ICICI Prudential Life Insurance believes its performance demonstrates resilience in the context of the current economic environment, says chief distribution officer Amit Palta.
In an interview with Mithun Dasgupta, Palta says the company is looking at enhancing its existing distribution as well as creating new distribution channels.
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance believes its performance demonstrates resilience in the context of the current economic environment, says chief distribution officer Amit Palta. In an interview with Mithun Dasgupta, Palta says the company is looking at enhancing its existing distribution as well as creating new distribution channels. Excerpts:
What are the short-term impacts of the pandemic on ICICI Prudential Life’s business growth plans? How is the company responding to it?
The pandemic has pushed businesses across sectors to transform. Our robust technology backbone has enabled us to swiftly adapt to the new normal by prioritising digital engagement to deliver safety and convenience to our customers, employees and distributors. Employees in frontline sales and our distribution partners have been equipped with various collaboration tools to provide customers a contactless and frictionless experience. By leveraging digital tools, we have ensured that our claims settlement process remains unaffected.
During the April-August period, the company’s new business premiums declined 23% against a 6% de-growth for the life insurance industry. How are you planning to boost sales as the number of policies sold during the first five months saw a de-growth of 23% year-on-year? Which are the product categories you think will help boost sales?
We believe our performance demonstrates our resilience in the context of the current economic environment. The protection segment, which is a key area for us, maintained a consistent performance as it generated APE (annualised premium equivalent) of `214 crore in Q1, 26% of total APE for the quarter. Non-linked savings business registered a 14.2% growth during Q1. The unit-linked segment too has been improving sequentially through the year. We have also seen a considerable increase in customer interest in term products and critical illness covers and we see this demand as a significant opportunity.
The interest towards purchase of protection plans has increased after the rapid spread of Covid-19. As new daily cases and fatalities continue to rise, will demand for such pure protection products remain high?
Our estimate is that only 10% of the addressable population in India has some level of income protection, thus highlighting the deep level of under-penetration that exists in the country. The pandemic has only heightened the need for protecting life and ensuring financial security for the family. We firmly believe the demand for protection products that we are witnessing is structural in nature and we should see sustained growth in the coming decade.
The company is aiming at deepening penetration in under-served customer segments. For that, what kind of distribution mix (agency versus bancassurance) is it looking at?
We have a well-diversified distribution mix. Of the total APE in Q1FY21, bancassurance constituted 39.6%, agency 24.7% and the balance 35.7% was accounted by other channels. We are looking at enhancing our existing distribution as well as creating new distribution channels. For instance, we recruited about ~23,500 agents in FY20 and also forged partnerships with both traditional as well as new-age distributors such as IDFC First Bank, NSDL Payments Bank and Paytm.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought disruptions across operations of financial services. In this prevailing environment, how are you ensuring delivery of superior customer service?
Our digital platform empowered customers to conveniently and safely conduct virtually every transaction from the convenience of their homes. Service touch-points like WhatsApp, mobile app, company website and chatbot LiGo were scaled up to facilitate customers to initiate and conclude a variety of service requests. During the past quarter, 93% of service requests were completed through self-help modules, about 95% of required documents were submitted via the digital platform and about 390 claims were intimated to us through digital enablers.