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Post Covid-19, customers expecting better digital experience from insurers

With recruiting nearly 1,000 people along with opening up more than 50 new branches, Shriram General Insurance plans a major expansion in 2022-23

Anil Kumar Agrawal, MD & CEO, Shriram General Insurance
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Anil Kumar Agrawal, MD & CEO, Shriram General Insurance

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In FY23, Shriram General Insurance (SGI) is looking at an aggressive growth for company's standalone of 25 per cent. It plans to have a major expansion in its manpower portfolio with nearly recruiting 1,000 people along with penetration in newer geographies by opening up more than 50 new branches in 2022-23. Anil Kumar Agrawal, MD & CEO at Shriram General Insurance, in an exclusive interview with Bizz Buzz, says: "Affordable health insurance is need of the hour and after 'Covid-19' health segment has grown rapidly and even surpassed motor insurance in the country. SGI is planning to enter into the health insurance business via retail segment rather focusing on GMC which is bleeding portfolio for the industry."

Which aspects does SGI cover under burglary insurance? (Who is your competition for burglary insurance?)

Burglary insurance policy of SGI offers an additional layer of security to insured's property. It offers coverage for damages or misfortunes caused to insured's property and its contents. Burglary insurance may be part of SGI home insurance or shopkeeper insurance product and offers cover for losses or damages to the insured property due to housebreaking or burglary. Most of the insurers like TATA AIG, Bajaj and ICICI Lombard are having this product and giving competition to SGI.

What does all risk insurance stand for?

Insurance policy that covers all kinds of risks except those which are categorically excluded from the policy wordings are known as 'all risk insurance'. This policy is opposite to named perils policy like fire insurance. In contrast, all-risks insurance does not mention the names of perils which get covered under the policy instead, it actually names the risks that are not covered under the policy.

What are your future plans and growth aspects?

In FY23, we are looking at an aggressive growth for SGI standalone of 25 per cent. We plan to have a major expansion in our manpower portfolio with nearly 1,000 recruitment along with penetration in newer geographies by opening up more than 50 new branches in 2022-23.

We are in process of rolling out aggressive campaign in developing the non-motor business by creating a connect in the small and medium enterprise (SME) segment. We are driving this initiative by providing value added services to our clients like risk management services.

As the company is increasingly operating in the challenging and disruptive market conditions, our team is actively planning and implementing new verticals by expanding our business. We are therefore eyeing the EV vertical development on a larger scale as electric vehicles are gaining popularity. EV is the most targeted vertical for everyone these days and SGI is also geared up to join the EV growth story of the country. There is month on month accretion in this segment and by end of year we expect to have a book of 50 crore. We are creating RR Vertical to focus on Tier 3 & 4 cities. We have a prominent vision towards this vertical by focusing on 600 talukas where insurance penetration is extremely low. As such we have already worked on 71 tehsils/districts and will continue to invest in untapped areas. We are strengthening the agency vertical by aggressive recruitment of manpower and ensuring more intermediary production per person.

When is SGI planning to enter into health insurance?

Affordable health insurance is need of the hour and after 'Covid-19' health segment has grown rapidly and even surpassed motor insurance in the country. SGI is planning to enter into the health insurance business via retail segment rather focusing on GMC which is bleeding portfolio for the industry. Further SGI will expand its health portfolio by launching more benefit-based products like hospital daily cash, Vector borne insurance and later on adding indemnity-based products like Arogya Sanjeevani under its portfolio.

What are some recent digital initiatives taken by SGI?

SGI has recently revamped the website insurance journeys for private car and two-wheeler insurance. With this update buying two-wheeler and private car insurance online on SGI is possible within three minutes now. New journeys are equipped with advance API's which enables customers to buy insurance by entering vehicle registration number, verifying the prefilled values filled by advance integrations, make payment and download policy document instantly. The user journey form while purchasing bike/car insurance policy from SGI website now has intuitive user interface and provides has state of the art customer experience.

How is your claim settlement post Covid-19?

Shriram General Insurance is an industry leader in quick claim settlements, with 60 per cent of claims being reported online by customers and agents with automatic feed into the insurer's systems. Further, 30 per cent of claims use digital tools for remote damage assessment or appointment selection. The company's status request calls have dropped by 50 per cent owing to the use of status messages, and 50 per cent of the loss payments are now triggered and executed automatically.

Automation helps in reducing the cost of a claims journey by as much as 20 per cent. Higher customer satisfaction, driven by the improved service and faster processing times helped by digitization, has become a driver of profit through increased customer retention. Using data analytics has also helped the company price and underwrite more accurately, enabling it to offer affordable policies and better identify fraudulent claims.

In order to optimize the claims settlement process, Shriram General Insurance has adopted digital claim files or soft working methods to equalize the work done in hard copy, maintained claim settlement efficiency despite the remote working conditions, given importance to telephonic communication to ensure uninterrupted progress of work, and encouraged use of digital channels by team members for open communication. The company aims to go above and beyond to address customers' issues and minimise variations, by measures such as evaluating the claims intimations on a daily basis, and focussing on conclusion of received claims through verification.

Are any sandbox products in pipeline?

Currently there is no sandbox product in pipeline, however, in second cohort, SGI got approval from IRDAI for product on fire loss of profit.

Which current trends are shaping the insurance industry?

The insurance industry is undergoing continuous change just because of the market conditions, demands of the customers and innovative marketing trends. Current trends which are shaping the insurance industry in 2022 are:

Artificial intelligence: Leveraging AI to make smarter decisions, enrich the customer experience and thus bringing in automation into our workforce.

Digitalization: Insurance companies are just adopting digital strategies not only for efficiency minimisation but for increased customer satisfaction by coming up with newer methods for promoting our business on digital platforms.

Insuretech: Various initiatives by the regular front are also making conducive environment for the insurtechs.

How is the motor segment performing post the pandemic?

Motor insurance premium is showing increasing trend after pandemic and industry is expecting a growth of around 10 to 15 per cent due to increase of TP rates and due to increase of motor vehicle sale. Insurers have also seen increase in reporting of OD and TP claims post pandemic.

Do you see any increase in demand in commercial insurance?

People are getting more aware about ensuring protection of their business from unexpected losses. Hence the same will increase demand for Commercial insurance covers. Moreover, some of the regulations issued by Governments are making it mandatory for owners to purchase commercial insurance policies like Workers' compensation insurance or Liability Insurance etc, the same is also impacting demand for commercial insurance. Moreover Insurtechas are also playing a very important role in increase demand for commercial insurance.

What are your observations on changed customer behaviour towards insurance pre and post Covid?

The Indian insurance industry has seen several changes in consumer behaviour and attitude towards insurance. Post Covid-19, customers are expecting better digital experience from insurers. Customers have also started accepting e- policies. Earlier they were happy with getting physical policies. Customers have started buying more cyber insurance after Covid. This kind of demand for cyber insurance was not there before Covid. Further, the pandemic has forced people to buy health insurance. Currently, 65 per cent of the total healthcare expenses are getting paid through them out of pocket. The Covid has increased the role of digitization and it has pushed millennials to purchase insurance as fundamental tool for protection. Insurtechs are also playing an important role in increase of demand for commercial insurance.

Kumud Das
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