Rajiv Kumar, MD, Universal Sompo General Insurance: Major growth will come from semi-urban, rural areas

Rajiv Kumar, MD and CEO, Universal Sompo General Insurance (USGIC), shares inputs on newer grounds for growth

How has the company’s journey been so far?

Our company has strategically created a niche position for itself in the insurance space by balancing our efficiencies and rural networking via our associated bank partners. BANCASSURANCE remains our key strength and it has helped us to benefit millions of rural and semi-rural customers to extend insurance coverage via the bank branches since the inception of our business operation. Universal Sompo is keen on improving its delivery mechanism and information technology system associated with its BANCA partners in the future years.

This is mainly due to the unique benefits of bank to reach out and their efficient networking in rural India. At present, we have already developed IT infrastructural base to cater more than 6,000 bank branches on a pan-India basis and are consistently upgrading on this to improve our efficiency to cater to the rural market.

Besides, our bank partners have banking correspondents in rural India as their representative who at present is working as touch points to rural people for various banking transactions. In near future, we will be associating ourselves with the banking correspondents of our partnered banks to extend USGIC financial service for further increasing foothold in rural India.

What is the growth strategy that your company is looking at?

Of late, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has opened up new avenues such as CROP, new distribution channels, for example, Common Services Centres (CSCs), Point of Sales (POS), web-aggregators, to insurers to further increase insurance penetration in rural /semi-urban markets of India. So, in orders to leverage such distribution channels, Universal Sompo is gradually evolving its distribution strategy.

We have already strategised business via web-aggregator and CSC channel with premium growth of 364.45 per cent and 1587.87 per cent respectively in FY 2016-17 and has increased its presence among online buyers and in rural/ semi-urban India via Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE).

We are consistently working on our product portfolio and so far have introduced 13 products (to be sold through CSC) in the current financial year. In FY 2017-18, Universal Sompo is planning to strengthen its POS and Insurance Marketing Firms (IMF) as distribution channels for tapping business in rural areas. So far, we have already got an approval for 14 products to be sold via POS channel and are receiving good response from customers.

With the increasing penetration of smartphones and internet/data connectivity in the rural hinterland, we have also developed an mPOS application for our POS-Person, which will help villagers to get the insurance policy at their fingertips. We are going to see major growth coming from semi-urban and rural areas. Progressive regulations on POS and CSC in terms of extended product portfolio will also drive the growth in future.

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