Celebrating a decade of creating value and delivering Quality in the Indian General Insurance Spectrum; a glance at Universal Sompo General Insurance’s 10 year Journey
Insurance is plain, least expensive and most counted upon way to cover life. Insurance in India has never been a heyday topic. It’s only looked upon as an afterthought for tax saving purposes and returns. Life is full of uncertainties and insurance is the cover against all odds. Yesteryears have witnessed a tremendous growth in the Indian insurance sector with its younger workforce, a rise in personal incomes, market competition and regulatory initiatives making this market to watch. Parallel to this, there are few burgeoning Insurance leaders that are infusing their expertise in providing the finest insurance shield for the customers. Brewing up the idea to focus on those services that are not taken care of by other financial services providers and have potential to grow in India with not only facilitating economic transactions through risk transfer and indemnification but also contributing in overall nation building, Mr. O.N.Singh (Earlier Chairman to Allahabad bank) visualized a viable general insurance venture with public& private sector banks and other conglomerates from India and Japan. He laid the foundation of Universal Sompo General Insurance in the incompatible environment where only private sectors banks had ventured into the insurance business. The Company received the Licence and Certificate of Registration from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority in November 2007.
Today, under the leadership of Mr. Rajiv Kumar, MD& CEO, Universal Sompo General Insurance, the organization stands as a prime mover procuring, selling and servicing general insurance products. In a recent conversation with The CEO Magazine, Mr. Kumar shared the voyage of India’s first non-life general insurance company, Universal Sompo General Insurance and spoke over a host of issues. Here is the periscope…
Pooja: How did Universal Sompo craft a niche for itself as a solitary organization? How has been the journey?
Mr.Kumar:Well the journey has been incredible for us. It feels incredible to spearhead Universal Sompo as the onlyorganization to have the support and partnership of credible Public & Private corporate entities from India and Japan with financial industry leaders like Allahabad Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Karnataka Bank, Dabur Investments and Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. as its stakeholders. We have 135 IRDA approved products including Health & Critical Illness, Personal Accident & Disability, Home, Motor, Property for individuals, Offices, Shopkeepers Package and other non-life packages for Small Entrepreneurs, besides Employee Benefit, Operational, Project Insurance, Liability and other special products for Corporate. Adding to its gamut, we also offer innovative and customized Risk Solutions to a range of customer segments including Rural and Social sector, utilizing varied Distribution channels. We are backed by brokers and ventured into new tie-ups during past years to maintain a double-digit growth rate.
Pooja: Kindly brief us over the concept of your special prowess- Bancassurance.
Mr.Kumar:Our preferred domain, “Bancassurance”, is our key expertise which has helped the organization to benefit millions of rural and semi-rural customers to provide insurance coverage via bank branches of our partners and is into dealing with policies which involve various location-based policies or large mass-based policies by catering services to the large clientele of its partner banks. Besides the prime bank base customers and key account holders, USGIC has also leveraged its distribution channels via cross-selling, loan account holders, deposit holders etc. The servicing is time-tested as the same is being done for over a period of time. Besides Bancassurance, we have also developed a robust agency channel force of its own via its established IRDAI accredited training centers.
Pooja: What have been the growth drivers for Universal Sompo?
Mr.Kumar:In the past ten years, since our first step in the industry, we have nurtured ourselves and developed robust &efficient IT Systems, Grievance Management System and a Centralized Policy Processing Centre which has been effectively serving our clients’ requirements. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, we have sprouted as a pioneer in the insurance space by balancing internal efficiencies and rural networking and have been successfully maintained a steady and sustainable double-digit growth rate for many years; mastering our services efficiencies and customized products for its partnered banks. It’s the long-term relations with customers and commitment towards quality that we have preserveda robust growth throughout our journey till date. In FY 2016-17, we registered a premium growth of 42.3% by procuring premium worth Rs 1287.23 Cr and issuing 1.28 million policies.
Pooja: What are the services offered under USGIC’s umbrella?
Mr.Kumar:We have created our own Centralized Policy Processing Centre which caters technological interface that provides services like Online Policy buying, Online Renewal, and Online claim services (like web-based application – ‘Genesis’) to its policyholders for speedy policy issuance and resolutions if any. Universal Sompo has also developed its own claim settlement platform like 24 hours Helpline, SMS and Web Enabled service platform for customer guidance etc.; to provide efficient service to their customers. Furthermore, our in-house TPA provides quick claim processing to ensure better facilities /claim settlement to its customers.
We have also developed a delivery mechanism and IT systems as per requirement of its respective distribution channels and also at Point of Sale (Branches in Pan India). We have developed IT infrastructural base to cater more than 6000 bank branches at pan India.
Leveraging the increasing digitization, we are also soliciting insurance business via online channels like web aggregators, common services centers and via point of sales (Pos) for approved products to benefit policyholders. USGIC has enhanced and effective technological mechanism to address complaints and grievances of policyholders efficiently and within minimal timelines.
Pooja: How far Universal Sompo has spread its wings?
Mr.Kumar:With our registered office nestled in the financial capital of India, Mumbai, we have 103 branches and 17 Zonal offices located at Noida, Jaipur, Bhopal, Mumbai(Andheri), Varanasi, Bhuwaneshwar, Banglore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Lucknow, Pune, Trivandrum, Patna and Chandigarh.
Pooja: How well is Universal Sompo connected with its policyholders?
Mr.Kumar:For us, customer servicing is at the heart of an insured-insurer relationship. We have established an enhanced and effective technological mechanism to address customer complaints and grievances of policyholders efficiently and with the speed and are also directly linked to IGMS (Integrated Grievance Management System) of IRDA. We care about our stakeholders and thus, we have introduced several schemes, both educational and promotional to benefit customers on a regular basis. This involves organizing health camps in a year to educate as well as to create awareness among people and indulging in creating awareness via social media and through various articles and resolving queries of the policyholders. With our aim for doing best for the society, we also provide training and education to unemployed youth for general insurance products in order to support them to earn their livelihood. The amalgamation of these initiatives and support along these years has proven as a catalyst to broaden our customer base over past years. We have been successful in expanding our clientele base via solicitation of business, esteemed agency force at pan India and with its associated brokers’ networking. In the last few years, we have also expanded our customer base via online channels like web aggregators, the point of sales and common services centers.
Pooja: Can you name a few of them…
Mr.Kumar:Our clientele enlists over one lakh clients including leading corporate as well as government institutions like Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizers (RCF), Airport Authority of India (AAI), OIL India Ltd, GSPC gas company, NEEPCO, Jharkhand and Gujarat electricity board, Godfrey Phillip India, Arvind Mills, SUZLON, Haldia Petrochemical, CadilaPharma, Bengal energy, HONDA, Maruti Suzuki, TOSHIBA, Cannon, NHK shipping, Star Union Dai-chi Life insurance co etc. to name a few.
Pooja: Please throw some colors over Universal Sompo’s team.
Mr.Kumar:A promise and a believe could be sensedwaving in our work culture; to enhance the knowledge of an individual and also create a conducive atmosphere where work and fun form an integral experience in the professional journey.
Over 1500 employees work in the various department of USGIC like underwriting, claim, marketing, product development etc. The organizational culture is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid. To enhance and consistently maintain organizational efficiency & capability, we are drawn towards a performance-based culture. Our transparent, open culture boosts individuals to sew up their best work and evolve out their own ideas. As a strategic initiative, we also encourage Reward and Incentive system for encouraging productive employees. We care about our workforce and provide them with facilities like Health Check-ups programs and gaining industry knowledge through Training Workshops conducted externally as well as internally. The management gives a lot of thrust in grooming the staff both, professionally as well as from an individual point of view. Training is imparted on Technical Knowledge and another cross-functional training is extended for a 360-degree perspective. Soft skills training are also imparted either in person or through literature which adds values to their skills. As a part of our future plans, we envision to focus on deploying a healthy corporate culture in USGIC.
Pooja: How do you learn in your life and what is your biggest dream?
Mr.Kumar:This to me is a great question. I would like to answer this in terms of a personal dream and for life in general. For life in general, my biggest dream is that everyone who is associated with me should be happy. In modern time with busy schedules, there is so much suffering and agonies, and we all deserve to be content. For me personally, my biggest dream is to use my ideas/ thoughts a tool that helps and inspire others to find the courage and confidence to make their dreams come true. I believe we all, the creation of God, are here on this Earth to leave a lasting impact. Some people just need a little extra encouragement and help to find their unique voice and way of doing that.
Pooja: Tell me about when you failed. How did you overcome?
Mr.Kumar:You don’t know whether the failure you went through is the biggest or not, but of course, failure educates you a worthwhile lesson. In my opinion, success and failure are the states of mind. The path is taken by you after success/failure depends upon how you embrace it.
So I don’t know whether it would be right to treat it as a failure but I wished if I were a science student as it could have been provided me some technological domain in this fast-changing world.
However, I have meticulously overcome this fact since last so many years by keeping me updated via my passionate and continued efforts towards continuous learning via various modes. So for me, I truly believe in the fact that life is a never-ending learning process and it’s not only through school/ college but through real lessons from life.
Pooja: What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?
Mr. Kumar:I am planning to open a retreat center in a few years, where people can come to work on emotional and spiritual clearing for a joyful life. Courses will be offered to coaches, therapists, healers, and anyone who wants to learn clearing tools to keep the heart and soul clear and light and inspired. I asked the universe to send me a clear sign that this is the right plan for me. The next morning a colleague stepped forward, asking specifically for spiritual guidance. He took me into a quiet room and said he thought I was a most spiritual person and could I help him. It was an amazing thing – to be of service and to do this feeling completely pain-free.
Pooja: Thanks for this wonderful session Mr. Kumar. A piece of advice for young entrepreneurs and our readers from you would be great.
Mr. Kumar: My piece of advice to young entrepreneurs stepping into new ventures would be to remain focused on the business objective and vision of the company that you set during the inception of the business. There is no mantra for quick success neither complete dependency on technological tools. A entrepreneurs needs to include a personal touch while dealing with his customers and partners. Success can come fast with new tech tools, but to sustain the success, innovation and feedback on enhancing is pivotal. Failure and Success are parallel tracks that an Entrepreneur needs to embrace in his business journey.
USGIC’S Glory: Mounting Milestones and Achieving Awards
Universal Sompo General Insurance has started its full operation since FY 2008 and has maintained a steady and sustainable growth rate. Universal Sompo General Insurance has entered in general insurance space just after de-tarrification and in already intensified competition regime. Within competitive regime gradually it has created a niche for itself on better products, services and by balancing reinsurance build ups and retention capacity in preliminary stages of our business. Outlined below are the milestones and awards embarked by the organization:
- Crossing first milestones in FY 2012-13 by passing the mark of Rs 500 Cr of business by registering double-digit premium growth of more than 32%
- Turning profitable within 5 years of general insurance business, as against, a normal gestation period of 6 to 7 years for general insurance business
- USGIC got impaneled with the ministry of agriculture for doing crop business in India
- USGIC collaborated with Maruti insurance broker in the year 2015-16, web aggregators; common service centers etc to increase its presence in pan India.
- In FY 2016-17 the company achieved more than 1.00% of market share with a turnover of around Rs 1287 Cr.
- USGIC has been crowned as the First amongst the general insurance companies to implement the Integrated Grievance Management System – real-time/online grievance reporting system implemented by IRDA among all general insurance companies
- Numerically, the company has already written over Rs.2000 Crs of premium, issuing more than 50 Lacs policies and settled more than 5 lacs claims with 135 IRDA approved products including Health/Critical Illness and Micro for sale in the market
- Being ranked fifth among the top 15 non-life insurance companies as per the ICMR- BFM survey
- Universal Sompo was conferred with prestigious 94.3 MYFM India’s stars of the industry award for excellence in General Insurance
- Universal Sompo’s Complete Health Care was rated amongst the Top 6 in the industry for Family Floater Plan by Mint – India’s leading business tabloid.
- CSC project of Universal Sompo has been awarded as one of the best 100 projects in India by Skoch Group.
- Received the prestigious “Best Customer Service Provider of the Year’ 2016 Award”- at the 2nd Annual India Insurance summit & Awards, Mumbai
- Won the award in “Fintelekt-Insurance awards 2017” for the leadership in claim service in General Insurance industry for the financial year 2016-17
Future Binge & Journey Ahead
Universal Sompo has been consistently engaged with various stakeholders to create a sustainable environment by extending opportunities for economic growth & financial protection of the society with a vision of “winning the Customer Confidence through continual enhancement of the superior value”. Standards in business, customer service, and insurance continuously evolve and it’s the concern of USGIC to meet these changing needs. In the forthcoming years, USGIC’s efforts will drive in recognizing tech trends, evaluating the business opportunities, and actively incorporate relevant processes and programs into its business model, for outpacing and outperforming the market competition.
- From Business Perspective,
In next year USGIC will be focusing towards modernizing and transferring its internal system in terms of interaction with Counterparties, Customers, and regulators. Considering the growing demand, USGICwill focus on the lucrative segment like Individual Health as well as Motor to widespread its presence PAN India via all the channels /mode of business acquisition and via an online platform. In order to take leverage of IRDAI’s distribution channels and new avenues, USGIC is evolving its distribution strategy. Given the fact that the Indian economy is expected to do well in the coming decades; USGIC’s attention will be centered to tap this opportunity. Going forward, Universal Sompo General Insurance Company; will have a focused approach towards maintaining its momentum of growth and to keep increasing its market share. With a focused approach to bringing in efficiency in the claim and other infrastructural management, USGIC will be working to approach for a profitable combined ratio. USGIC is working extensively towards creating and developing efficiencies in customer services, claim management system to benefit its customer.
- Process Innovation & Marketing Innovation
USGIC’s advancements will include infusion innovation and significant changes in techniques, equipment and software to bring innovative methods aimed at better addressing customer needs, opening up new markets or generating awareness considering abysmally low insurance penetration in India. To leverage its potential in CROP business, USGIC will be giving a thrust to crop business for next year. USGIC is already in association with corporate tie-ups like Maruti, Honda, and Nissan and is quite keen on increasing number of tie-ups over next one year.
Over and above leveraging new avenues, USGIC strives to strengthen its traditional distributional channel, BANCA and Agency as well. Various technological up gradation and new systems are in line to support existing distribution channels. With evolving technological circumstances, USGIC is deploying various initiatives like Mobile application (M- POS), Payment integration to digital wallets, System for Weather Crop Insurance, Developments of channel portal like Agency portal, Customer self-service portal etc. Overall with a 360-degree futuristic approach, USGIC foresees itself to pan out as the fastest growing insurance company with a continuous increment in market share.
Man who has been spearheading USGIC’s expertise towards a new horizon
Mr. Rajiv Kumar
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer
Rajiv possesses 26 years of seasoned experience in Underwriting, Corporate Planning & Strategy, Business Development, Client Relationship Management, claims. He is proficient in managing & leading teams for running successful service delivery & process operations. His role in developing, unifying, and strengthening the reinsurance team, through the development of new approaches to the reinsurance team’s key activities – placement, administration, and recoveries have been remarkable in USGIC’s growth. Rajiv has hands-on experience in implementing procedures, service standards for business excellence, End to end Operations Management, Service Delivery, Operations Reengineering, and excellence. With an ability to work in a multi-cultural, team-oriented environment, he is a problem solver, service quality oriented, focused on deadlines who possess sound knowledge of underwriting for Fire, Engineering, Marine, Mediclaim Insurance, Motor, GPA, etc.