Lessons for private insurers from LICís long-term success

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SummaryDuring the 12th year of liberalisation of the insurance industry, there is a sudden lull in the market.

During the 12th year of liberalisation of the insurance industry, there is a sudden lull in the market.

There is no excitement on any front and all the noise regarding too many regulatory interventions has died down. The half-yearly results, as on September 12, do not give any indication of a once-booming industry bouncing back. Some kind of uncertainty is pervading the whole atmosphere.

Those who used to speak of the advent of a new era have withdrawn themselves from the limelight. This is, of course, a very unfortunate situation for an industry vital to the economy and these developments reflect the truth, whatever be the sporadic announcements from Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi regarding inducing growth through various strategic decisions. At this juncture of dilemma, it will be worthwhile to look at the inherent strengths of Indiaís largest insurer ó Life Insurance Corporation ó as this behemoth has not only survived the liberalisation, but has also regained its market share after initially losing nearly 50% to the private sector.

Today, LIC is not only the market leader, but also, to the utter disbelief of the experts who predicted a huge erosion in its ability to protect its turf in the face of innovative products and state-of-the-art service standards being introduced by the private players, the public sector organisation has conceded just over 1% average market share to the 23 private sector players. Interesting, isnít it?

On Diwali, an old colleague shared his experience that out of nearly 100 SMSs of greetings that he got, nearly 80% were from insurance agents with whom he had worked as an LIC branch manager 20 years back. I think the secret of LICís success lies here.

Each salesman of this institution who has survived for at least five years is virtually a moving office in its locality and is trusted by the customers for all insurance needs. A strong force of such sales people has been created by LICís marketing officials through a continuous handholding in the field for enabling them to successfully launch themselves on a very rewarding career.

I have met LIC agents who literally worship their mentors, who they look upon as selfless seniors who place business before self and for whom the interest of the organisation is uppermost. For 20 years, the team, mentioned to me by my colleague, has been contributing and earning loyalty of customers through their continued visibility and presence in

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