Interview with Rajiv Kumar MD & CEO, Universal Sompo General Insurance Co Ltd


In the crowded general insurance space how do you stand out against the other established players?

Universal Sompo General Insurance has always strived to create a niche for itself in the already crowded general insurance space. We are driven by the mission to provide World class services and products to our Customers and Stable returns for our Shareholders. Universal Sompo General Insurance has the best Claims Ratio in the Industry which is a result of prudent underwriting practices and better canvassing of business under the knowledgeable and proactive thought leadership of the Management. Universal Sompo General Insurance has always held Customer Service at the helm of Business transactions. Providing superior values to our customers remains the pioneer philosophy which drives the wheels of Innovation and Risk Solutions for our customers. For our various customer centric efforts in extending the benefits of insurance products to rural as well as urban customers, Universal Sompo has been awarded with “Customer Service Provider of the Year” in the 2nd Annual Insurance India Summit 2017, “BFSI-Personal Line Broking Initiative of Year” from ABP Network and “Skoch Order-of-Merit 2016” award by the SKOCH Group. Our efforts to extend insurance awareness to rural India on platform like International Trade Fair-2016 have also been acknowledged by Human Service Foundation Organisation. We have the privilege of being Top Insurance Partners in terms of Customer Service for Maruti Insurance since the inception of partnership in November 2015. Apart from that we are on the empanelled panel of Insurers to extend Crop Insurance under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).


Your company has been primarily been promoted by Banks. How are you leveraging the existing customer base to promote your products?

The main driver of the company is our BANCA channel. The strategic bank partners and their existing established credibility in Indian market has assisted USGI in creating niche in insurance space in preliminary stages of business. (i) For business, on an average BANCA partners contributes at about 30-40% total business of USGI. The established customer data base of partnered banks have provided base for cross selling products as well specially health products to bank Customers to make a strong existence in rural insurance sector. On an average premium from BANCA has registered a growth of 5 % to 10% in past years. (ii) In getting better reach, bank partners of USGI have provided support. Strategic bank partners of USGI have already established credibility and have tremendous potential in Indian market and provide channel supporting terms of business and infrastructural support. At present USGI has networking of at about 11000 numbers to bank branches of associated prime banks at PAN Indian basis. (iii) In brining best practices, our bank partners have always supported. We have always followed best practices and the system with our bank partners and it has evolved during past years. (iv) We hold a special relation with the existing customers of our bank partners and have always been proactive in understanding their needs and to develop co-branded products for them. In terms of Health Insurance, USGI have co-branded Health Care Plus policies with each of the bank partners. Towards personal accident we offer KBL-Suraksha & IOB Suraksha to Bank Account holders. For Motor Insurance, we provide the best insurance services to the bank customers at best price with every motor finance loans from our Bank Partners.

Have you launched any specific products related to bank customers

For each of our BANCA partner viz. Allahabad Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and Karnataka Bank, we have designed specific Co-branded health product namely Allahabad Bank Health Care Plus, Indian Overseas Bank Health Care Plus and Karnataka Bank Health Care Plus based on bank customers’ specific need. All health product specifically designed have turn out to be quite well in past years. We have also launched specialized personal accident products for KBL customers and IOB Customers as KBL-Suraksha & IOB-Suraksha. These are specialized Personal Accident Insurance scheme extended by Universal Sompo General Insurance in association with respective Partner Banks to all its savings bank (SB) customers against a nominal premium payment. The policy comes with Sum Insured of Rs 10 Lakh at a nominal annual premium of Rs 100. Given the renewal of the policy can be done till the maximum age of 75 years which is one of the highest coverage provided across all personal accident schemes present in the Insurance industry. Universal Sompo General Insurance have specifically deployed bank associate at respective bank branches for providing efficient services to our customers. Various technological up gradation and new systems are also implemented to support bancassuarnce channel to improve servicing efficiency.

What is your current strength of operating offices and distribution channel?

Universal Sompo has always remained a front runner in identifying the opportunities in extending insurance benefits to masses. Universal Sompo has an all India Presence with 17 Zonal Offices and 111 Offices present across the length and breadth of the country. In addition to the above offices,
we extend Insurance benefits to Banks customers in both rural & urban area through the network of around 11,000 bank branches. We extend insurance benefits to rural India through our partnership with around more than 18,000 Common service centers (CSCs). Employees are the Face of the organisation and we boast of highly competent team of 1420 employees to extend the insurance services to our valued customers.

Online selling is gaining momentum. Your plans about enhancing your presence in this segment

Digital disruption is expected to impact insurance significantly in near future. The exploding popularity of smart phones and Internet has become a core part of life for many consumers across the globe and in India. The old ways of selling insurance are, over time becoming less sustainable and insurance sales from online channels is expected to grow 20 times by 2020 as per most of research reports. So in orders to take leverage of change in buying behavior of potential customers and increasing internet penetration, USGIC is gradually evolving our distribution strategy. USGI has already strategized business via web aggregator & CSC (common service centers ) channel with premium growth of 364.45% & 1587.87% in FY 2016-17 and has increased its presence among online buyers and in urban as well as rural / semi urban India . In FY 2017-18, USGI is planning to develop Point of sales and insurance marketing firm’s (IMF) as distribution channels for tapping business.

How has been your performance in current fiscal and what business you are eyeing in the next fiscal?

We have closed FY 17 with a premium of Rs 1287.23 Cr with an exceptional growth of 42.42% which is much better than the industry average. This organic growth has came from the well diversified business segments of the company in Motor, Crop and Miscellaneous line of business. Being one
of the empanelled companies for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the Crop Insurance business had provided the required impetus in the Company’s growth in terms of premium as well as customer base. Considering the tremendous potential of CROP business, USGIC has given a thrust to crop business in FY 2016-17 and in coming fiscal as well crop will be one of the major portfolios in USGIC business. After getting an acknowledgement by Maruti Insurance brokers Limited (MIBL) as top service provider, USGI will be keen to scale up its existing corporate tie ups like Maruti, Honda and Nissan in coming fiscal. Besides, leveraging new avenues and new tie-ups, USGIC is also keen on strengthening its traditional distributional channel, BANCA and Agency as well in coming fiscal. Various technological up gradation and new systems are in line to support existing distribution channels and we are expecting a robust business growth from these channels as well.

Do you provide any special tailor-made training to Bank Employees to equip them to sell Insurance Products?

Yes, a trained agent primarily plays a role of a communicator, counselor and facilitator for insurance products available in the market. Hence as training procedures Employees of our partner banks are trained at IOB, Allahabad bank and Karnataka bank staff training colleges. So far this financial year we have 582 IOB staff, 154 Allahabad bank staff & 82 Karnataka bank staff. Besides, our training team also coordinates for getting the bank Specialised Person’s trained and licensed. This financial year the training team undertook a massive project of getting 390 specified persons of Indian overseas bank trained and licensed.

Any other development you would like to share.

In the present circumstances, we can experience changes in customer behavior which is seeking conveniences a primary value. Now, customers want to shift effortlessly from agents to computer and now to smart phones as they explore and adopt products and services at the go. They want to access sales advice, customer service, and claims management at any time of the day or night, from wherever they happen to be. We at Universal Sompo General Insurance have noticed this growing segment and have taken various initiatives from being connected with our customers through social media to launching of the Universal Sompo Mobile App for our digital savvy customers. Apart from the digital segments, we have initiated strategies to connect customers from semi-urban and rural areas through Point of Sales Person (POSP), who lack the basic Infrastructural access of General Insurance products in their vicinity. These POSP who will be exclusive to Insurance Company, will be provided with Mobile POS (MPOS) application to help us to connect better with our target customers and innovate insurance products based on existing need-gap analysis. Besides this we are developing in house health serve web portal, e-policy issuance, c-kyc verification, underwriting applications etc to facilitate our end consumers as well as distribution channels.


About the Author 

Mr Kumar, started out with United India Insurance Co. Ltd in 1990, and then moved to IFFCO-TOKIO General Insurance in 2002. He has been with the company i.e. Universal Sompo General Insurance Co. Ltd since 2007, and in his last role, he was the head of corporate planning, customer service, product development and operations before taking over as Managing Director & CEO of the company in Oct 2016. Rajiv Kumar has completed his post-graduation from Delhi University and is an alumni of the Insurance Institute of India.



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