Money & Banking

Protection segment to emerge stronger: HDFC Life official

Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on June 05, 2020

Covid-19 has forced companies to do a rethink of their business strategies. As companies deliberate on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ scenarios, the Covid crisis has put a spotlight on insurers who can expect to be inundated with general inquiries and claims across multiple different lines, be it health, life, or non-life.

Balancing the need for responding to this influx of activity at a virtual level and navigating the crisis with resilience and ingenuity is the overriding philosophy at HDFC Life.

Suresh Badami, Executive Director, HDFC Life, told Business Line that the impact of the outbreak “has been seen across new business and renewal collections, with customers wanting to conserve cash till clarity emerges. We expect business, especially the protection segment, to emerge stronger at the end of this pandemic”.

Badami said this has also been the experience in other regions in the past and added that the company is well geared to serve the demand that may arise as the situation improves.

Corporate culture

Covid-19 has created a moment of truth for corporate culture, with the Executive Director (ED) attesting that focussing on the company’s purpose and values will help with the right decision making.

HDFC Life has a strong corporate culture built on the foundation of a robust value system, said the ED. “We want to be the easiest to deal with, offer the best value for money, and set the standards in the industry to remain the most obvious choice. Like all successful companies, we have built our business on strong ethics and a strong values framework to ensure a long-term sustainable business,” says Badami.

Though culture is guided by purpose and values, it is being put to the test by the crisis. The company’s agility, integrity, people-centricity, innovation, and ambition hold it in good stead.

Growth shoots

Speaking about the priorities, the ED said the safety and well-being of employees, customers and partners and ensuring uninterrupted service to customers continue to be foremost priorities at the company. “Our existing suite of digital assets is available across channels, partners and employees. This has enabled us to continue providing a seamless experience to the end customer from a new business and servicing perspective,” adds the official.

Commenting on the protection gap in India, Badami insists it is rather wide. “As a percentage of GDP, insurance premium is in single digits. Though the percentage of sum assured is going up, it is low compared to that of developed countries. Therefore, the opportunity and scope for growth in life insurance remain immense,” he continues.

Challenges ahead

HDFC Life expects its business to emerge stronger at the end of the pandemic. “Life insurance is a long-term-oriented industry and we need not look at the impact on a weekly or a monthly basis,” said the official. “While it might take some more time for things to settle down and a new normal to emerge, we believe that the structural story for insurance remains intact,” adds Badami.

Pointing out that the need for insurance across mortality, morbidity and longevity coverage remains high, the ED said: “We need to see how the financial services sector will be affected due to Covid-19, and how savings patterns change and what proportion comes into financial savings.”

Published on June 05, 2020

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