The coronavirus pandemic has been “advantageous” for insurance companies as more customers are willing to pay and secure themselves, said top executives of India’s biggest companies in the sector on Wednesday.
The executives, while speaking at the fifth webinar of Business Standard’s six-part Unlock BFSI 2.0 series, agreed the pandemic had made customers aware of buying quality insurance. The pandemic had given a push to digitisation. The experts said serving customers was the bottom-line and were unanimous in hoping for an early end to the crisis caused by the pandemic.
The panelists in Wednesday’s webinar, titled ‘Insured and safe’, were ICICI Lombard Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Bhargav Dasgupta, IFFCO Tokio Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Anamika Roy Rashtrawar, Reliance General Chief Executive Officer Rakesh Jain, Tata AIG Chief Executive Officer Neelesh Garg, SBI General Deputy General Manager P C Kandpal and Religare Health Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Anuj Gulati.
The discussion was moderated by Tamal Bandopadhyay, consulting editor, Business Standard.
IFFCO Tokio’s Rashtrawar said enquiries related to health insurance had gone up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, while motor renewals had slowed down as people wanted to save money for general use. “Health is the new motor insurance,” she said, adding that the segment would become predominant in the future.
Tata AIG’s Garg said the pandemic had turned out to be a positive for general insurance sector. “The customer has become more mature and there was more awareness of risk. Health insurance is becoming one of the most interesting segments for distribution,” he said.
Reliance General’s Jain said the pandemic had affected everybody, but had was a positive for the industry. “The heightened awareness in customers has put general insurers in an advantageous position,” he said. The task at hand now was to work on the awareness.
Religare Health’s Chugh said that heightened customer awareness would lead to growth in the sector. He also thanked the regulatory bodies for their support. “In our case, support from regulatory bodies proved to be a big enabler and inspired us to focus on our execution.”
ICICI Lombard’s Dasgupta said that while retail health numbers had grown 30% in Q1, aggregate industry numbers showed a de-growth of around 5-6 per cent, especially in the motor insurance segment. He also said the National Digital Health Mission could help the industry going ahead.
Commenting on the rapid digitisation in the industry, experts said that with improving connectivity, India was changing very fast, digitally.
Speaking about the competition between non-life and life insurers, who also want to get into short term insurance, experts agreed that the debate was unnecessary and there was ample scope for growth for both.