Money & Banking

Passion and processes have to be balanced, says India First Life Insurance CEO

N.S.Vageesh Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 16, 2017

RM VISHAKHA, MD & CEO, India First Life Insurance

It’s eight years since India First Life Insurance Company opened for business and its MD & CEO, R.M. Vishakha, uses the occasion to reiterate the philosophy of ‘securing lives and creating value’ as its core mission.

Starting out as the 23rd entrant in a crowded industry, India First Life Insurance Co has grown to be the 13th ranked player and aims to break into the top ten soon. It has sold policies to 10 million customers in eight years and has about 4.5 million of them on its books now.

It made its first profits at the end of the fifth year and in the last fiscal reported a profit of Rs 35 crore on a gross written premium of Rs 2,265 crore (with total new business annual premium equivalent at Rs 528 crore). Individual premiums grew at 82 per cent last year and this fiscal the numbers continue to grow at an impressive 108 per cent.

Asked to explain this scorching pace, Vishakha said a combination of good teamwork and the establishment of sound processes have begun to pay dividends. She said as organisations grow, it becomes important to set up processes that don’t kill the passion in the sales team. Striking the proper balance between passion and processes is the key to success, she said.

This has also meant ironing out defects and mis-selling that tended to happen earlier. Guidelines have been issued for selling to potentially vulnerable customers and there is a rule engine for the same. This checks if the sale was made to the right person. For instance, if the potential customer is above 50 years of age with no income or employment but wanted a high premium policy for 15 years, that would trigger an alert for further investigation.

Similarly, after a sale has been made, there is a check at the back-end as part of the pre-issuance process with a call to the customer to find out whether he or she has understood the product and whether there was any mis-selling by over-enthusiastic salespersons.

The sales process is also being tweaked to ensure that disincentives are built in for mis-selling or in the event of customer complaints. There must be consequences for mis-selling and it must hurt salespersons when it hurts customers, Vishakha said.

As she explained, “We have to align the pain of the customer with that of the organisation”. These measures have seen instances of mis-selling drop by 50 per cent, Vishakha said. Customer persistency ratios (13th month) has also risen from 63 per cent earlier to 74 per cent last year.

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Published on November 16, 2017
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