We expect more customers to embrace insurance as a necessity: Munish Sharda

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on April 17, 2020 Published on April 17, 2020

Munish Sharda, Managing Director and CEO, Future Generali India Life Insurance (File photo)

Post lockdown, insurers will have to be prepared for uptake in demand and do things differently, says Future Generali India Life Insurance chief

The current coronavirus pandemic could lead to more focus on insurance — in terms of both risk management as well as consumer demand, believes Munish Sharda, Managing Director and CEO, Future Generali India Life Insurance.

In an interview with BusinessLine, he said while the company is focussing on serving customers, it is also working on future plans keeping in mind the current situation. Edited excerpts:

How will the insurance scenario change post-Covid-19?

It is too early to visualise what the future may look like. It also depends on how long the crisis will last and how the world responds to protect people and economy. However, one thing is certain: it will force people, companies and governments to think differently about how we live, how we engage and how we conduct business.

I see this as a moment of truth for the insurance industry. Our main priority is the safety of our employees and the well-being of our customers. The lockdown has not only put to test our digital powers but also accelerated digital adoption and innovation within the company. I see us building further on these gains post-Covid-19.

I also think that this will also have a deep impact on the risk management aspect in the insurance business; especially in the areas of business continuity, cyber security and markets, both debt and equity. I also expect more customers to embrace insurance more as a necessity and not something that needs to be pushed into their financial planning agenda.

Are insurers thinking of special packages and products for life insurance?

We see quite a few specialty products being launched by general insurance companies to cover against Covid-19. In case of life insurance, as per the directive from the IRDA, death due to this epidemic is covered under all plans. Going forward, I expect higher demand for policies offering comprehensive cover against illnesses — known and unknown.

What is the growth strategy going forward?

Notwithstanding the short-to-medium-term slowdown in business, we are currently drawing out scenarios and shall be casting plans accordingly. In the current phase, our focus is to keep business healthy and serve our customers well. Looking ahead, we need to be prepared not just for a massive uptake in demand for insurance once normalcy returns, but also be ready with new ways of doing things. Long-term fundamentals of the market remain robust and our strategy will remain consistent to grow our business, albeit our methods and designs will be suitably modified for life after Covid-19.

How is the company doing in terms of performance?

We did well last year. In 2018-19 we grew about 35 per cent in individual regular premium business. We are constantly working on improving the quality of our business. Both the 13th month persistence and the claim settlement ratio and turnaround time have improved. Our plan for three years is to grow at about 30 per cent plus CAGR. We are also expanding our footprint selectively where we see opportunities for growth in proprietary channels — both direct and agency channels. We are also seeing momentum in our partnership distribution with Bajaj Finance, Saraswat Bank, AU Bank and American Express. Proprietary business is about 60-65 per cent of our individual business.

How is your partnership with Future Group shaping up?

It’s going on well. We are doing a couple of things on the group and individual side. Last year, Future Group had set up a distribution arm to sell insurance products in the store. We are seeing good build-up of volume in the set-up. We offer both term products and savings.

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Published on April 17, 2020
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