“Till I’m the CEO, my brand ambassadors shall only be my own people, my own company people. We are the best and we shall remain the best in delivering the promise.”- Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO, Bajaj Allianz
His parents saw him as a future bureaucrat. His father was in the police and his mom wanted him to be either an IAS or an IPS, and he longed to be a scientist!! A challenge from a friend on appearing for an aptitude test landed him in the field of insurance. From aspiring to become a scientist to getting into the shoes of an insurer has been a beautiful journey for Tapan. He carries a sparkling aura and a smile which holds the power to enliven the whole conversation with him! Honesty, Simplicity, fairness and a universal mind add more stars to this fine gentleman and an earnest employer in almost every way you admire him as a role model. He is Mr. Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO; the name that goes in sync when speaking about best in class insurance practices and services house not only in India but across Asia- Bajaj Allianz. The humble journey of Bajaj Allianz began on 2nd May 2001; at a time when the Indian Insurance Industry was ruled by public sector companies and the market was dominated by conventional tariff based products and offered very limited scope for innovation.
The company reported strong financial results with a 29.8% rise in net profit at INR 7.28 Billion for FY 16-17 as against INR 5.64 Billion in the previous Financial Year 15-16. The Gross Written Premium (GWP) of the company has increased by 30.3% to INR 76.87 Billion. With a Solvency Ratio of 261% and a Claims Ratio of 96.8%, it is one of the most financially strongest insurance companies in India. With an underwriting profit of INR 620 million in FY 16-17, it is the only private insurer of India making underwriting profits because of its prudent underwriting philosophy. Focused on revamping the insurance space in India by introducing “customer-centric” product and service innovations, Bajaj Allianz has been victorious in pushing the boundaries and delivering superior insurance solutions leveraging the latest technology and unique products that offer protection against new age risks. Bajaj Allianz has been the thought leader in the insurance space introducing industry-first initiatives making insurance transactions a smooth experience.
Bajaj Allianz at a glance
“Over the years Bajaj Allianz has left an indelible mark on the insurance spectrum of India through its sound insurance practices and customer-centric innovations. It has posted a robust growth, ensured profitability and delivered superior insurance services for its customers. Today with a history of almost 6 Crore customers, the company is also transforming the way insurance business is conducted by building a preventive, instead of a reactive model. To enable this, it has launched India’s first telematics-based insurance offering, introducing usage-based motor insurance model in India. It has also launched “Pro-fit” an app that tracks a customer’s health details. Its block chain based travel product proactively settles claims in the event of a flight delay without the customers having to initiate the claims process!”
Ushering the era of Disruption and Innovation in the Insurance sector
In just 16 years of setting base in the insurance space, Bajaj Allianz organically holds 35% of the market share of profits. The organization has maintained a consistent ROE, have industry best solvency ratios and have best in class claims settlements.
Many Firsts to its abode
- Introduced online policy issuance and image-based claims processing for faster and better customer services
- First insures in the Indian insurance industry to introduce cashless motor and health insurance claim settlement processes.
- Created an in-house health administration team – HAT, while the whole industry was working with TPA’s which helped in ensuring efficient claims management and faster turnaround times (TAT) for claims settlement. Today BAGIC has one of the best TAT’s in the industry for cashless claims approval. Today the entire process is digital with no paperwork involved and the team sends cashless approvals in less than 60 minutes.
- First to leverage on the digital mega-trend by introducing mobile applications to empower its agents
Taking insurance to the next level, the company today deploys latest technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data analysis etc. that enable on the spot claims settlement. When it comes to ensuring hassle-free customer services, the company as a rule never holds back from taking risks that may translate into innovative solutions transforming the way insurance business is conducted. Since its inception, Bajaj Allianz GIC eyed to make innovative disruptions into its process and services using digitalization to enhance customer satisfaction levels. The company became the first insurer in India to issue policies online, thus ushering the era of change in an otherwise paper and manual intervention based industry. The company adopted several e-solutions such as online policy issuance, image-based underwriting and claims processing, system integration with network partners for instant services etc. It has today evolved technologically to a stage where it has established Virtual Offices across 1000 towns of the country providing an entire gamut of insurance services just on tabs and mobiles for its TIER II/III city clients, at their doorsteps!
In line with its Go Digital adage, the company also launched an app, the Insurance Wallet, empowering its customers in conducting insurance transactions – anytime, anywhere. In a span of merely a year the company has launched a slew of digital initiatives, outlined below which aims at empowering its customers.
- Travel Ezee – In a first, in the Indian insurance industry, the company has leveraged the power of Blockchain technology for its application – “Travel Ezee”. This application acts proactively and notifies the customer on their payout eligibility in case of a flight delay.
- Boing – An Artificial Intelligence powered customer service chatbot platform that services customer queries 24/7.
- Motor OTS – A unique facility that empowers our motor insurance customers to register as well as self-inspect their motor insurance claims of up to Rs. 20,000 through company’s self-service mobile application; Insurance Wallet.
- DriveSmart – India’s first telematics-based motor insurance service offering that introduces the concept of pay as you drive (PAYD) by monitoring and giving real-time feedback on the insured’s driving habits.
- Health CDC – Another unique facility by BAGIC where Health Reimbursement claims up to 20,000 can be settled by the insured through its app – Insurance wallet. The facility does away with manual intervention, as the insured can submit the claim documents through the app sans any physical documentation. With this, the health reimbursement claims are settled in just 2 days.
- Bajaj Allianz was also one of the first insurers to leverage on the social media platforms to educate and empower its customers on insurance.
Delivering the promises
“We always directly emphasize on the relationship we have to offer to a customer through our product offerings. We build an emotional connection with our consumers. We strongly believe and work hard towards creating a relationship that extends beyond just selling insurance policies.”
The company follows a multi-pronged distribution model for an enhanced outreach. It has one of the largest agency forces in the country. Being the prime mover to leverage on Bancassurance as a distribution channel, the company today has the largest tie-ups with over 200 major scheduled, multinational and cooperative banks and even with some of the leading non-banking financial companies of the country. With time, the organization has moved onto the digital medium of selling policies online through its website. Pivoting on technology and digital revolution further, the company laid down the foundation of digital offices. These virtual offices have signaled the onset of digital disruption and helped the company spread its base to more than 1000 towns of the country. The company also leverages Govt. Mass schemes on Crop and Health as an excellent way to reach out to previously untapped populations. Through the several Govt. Common Service Centers (CSCs) the company distributes its retail insurance products to the rural customers of India.
“We believe that like individuals, companies too have a soul and a thought process that drives them to take up social causes. Our CSR philosophy is inherited from our promoters, which is the difference that our business and industry can make to the lives of people. The 2 main focus areas for us are promoting health care including preventive health care and promotion of education and employment enhancing skills that makes children employment ready. We are associated with NGO’s such as Smile Train India, Association of Rural and Urban Needy – Project Rainbow Homes, SOS children’s village and have created care centres and charity trusts at some of the leading hospitals in Maharashtra that take care of treatments for the indigent.”
A guide and a celebrated entrepreneur; The CEO’s Periscope
Tapan isn’t one for talking much about himself. He takes off his professional suit to eloquently share his thoughts with Pooja Kundoo, Editor at The CEO Magazine on off the beaten entrepreneurial subjects; his influencers, his journey, the difference and future plans of Bajaj Allianz, with a note for the budding entrepreneurs.
Mr. Singhel thanks for joining us. You had an amazing entrepreneurial journey so far. Many people look up to you as a veteran and a role model. I am a personal admirer too!! What would be the two-three highlights of your career that helped you shape who you are today?
A challenge from a friend on appearing for an aptitude test landed me in the field of insurance. From aspiring to become a scientist to getting into the shoes of an insurer has been a beautiful journey. While insurance is not a preferred profession, I realized the good in what we do the day I handed over a Cheque to a widow just after her husband had succumbed to an accident. I realized it that day that I was in the business of doing good, by supporting people financially in their direst hours of need. It has forever since stayed with me and I have wanted to take insurance solutions to the remotest corners of the country. I have always been passionate about my work, and find happiness in all the projects I undertake.
What is the current environment laying in Insurance segment? What would you like to change?
The basic challenges of the insurance industry still remain unaddressed simply because it is a financial tool that many people are still not aware of. While there are infrastructure issues that are getting slowly addressed through the use of technology, a lot of people are still unaware of the benefits an insurance policy offers. And this sort of an awareness, this sense of participation towards the kind of social cause, insurance is, cannot be created by governments alone. Neither can the insurance companies solely achieve it. Together they have introduced and implemented several schemes for Crop, Personal Accident, Health and even Life Insurance. Several more such ideas and suggestions are still in pipeline.
And these also point towards the reforms that I would bring about if I could spin the wand of absolute power. I would have made the entire economies understand the role of insurance as a social cause, a powerful tool that protects each citizen from the vagaries of life. Also I would take insurance to the last mile of the country, generating employment opportunities for millions of unemployed Indians. And lastly, I would direct revenue both from government and industry schemes to develop a sustainable infrastructure to serve as a backbone to an intensified insurance penetration programme in the country.
Take us on the journey of your first business breakthrough which turned out to be a big success.
Initially when the company was making inroads into the insurance industry, dominated by the public sector companies, the employees took on the challenge to gain the trust of Indian consumers and earn premiums. As the office head of Kanpur, on a particular day in 2001, I happened to have a look at the RBI building. It clicked to me then that insuring the highest monetary body of the country would be the best opportunity to gain trust in the market. Hence, we insured the RBI building which displayed our strength and ability to cover such huge risks.
And the most obvious question in a new way!! Throw some colors on the secret formula of 6700, closed to your heart ‘People of Bajaj Allianz’; the brand ambassadors.
In just 16 years of setting base in the insurance space, we organically hold 35% of the market share of profits. We have maintained a consistent ROE, have industry best solvency ratios and have best in class claims settlements. As we have always believed that employee happiness translates to customer happiness, the company has always ensured a sound work atmosphere, enabling people to bring their best selves and their best ideas to work.
Your words, as I quote, “We are the best; we shall remain the best and let the competitors feel jealous and try to copy us. Unluckily they cannot copy my 6700 people”. What is the picture you hold for Bajaj Allianz in the next five years?”
We want to reach the remotest corners of the country to improve awareness on insurance a very important component of an individual’s financial security via various digital initiatives. Our energies are focused on strengthening our home and health insurance portfolios as well as distribution capabilities.
Distribution Transformation: To take insurance to every city, town, and village of our nation through virtual/digital offices.
Claims Transformation: To innovate and in the future take claims settlement to the next level.
Focus on Home and Health Insurance: We will be working towards creating more awareness on the subject, reaching out to more tier 2 and 3 towns, creating innovative and need-based products in home and health space.
Customer Centricity: We would be providing ease and convenience with priority given to claims, billing and policy processing.
Digital by Default: Every process to be digital, empowering customers and channel partners with low-cost mobile solutions and engaging with our customers and business partners on digital platforms.
Simpler & Innovative products: Coming out with simpler, innovative and need-based product variants that can be customized as per the customer’s requirement.
How do you learn in your life and what is your biggest dream?
I believe every challenge comes with its own lessons. Once you overcome a tough situation, you emerge stronger, and the lessons stick with you for a lifetime. It is ok to fail but not ok to not learn the lessons from that failure. I have been lucky to be surrounded by several such influences who time and again rekindled the spirit of adventure in me. I also believe that one must learn to view things from a winner’s perspective from the start itself and learn to listen to their instincts. I am a firm believer in giving back to the society, and hence my biggest dream is to contribute to it as much as I can. Being already in one of the noblest businesses’, I dream of taking this financial security tool to the last mile of the country while generating employment for at least a million people.
Bajaj Allianz’s Timeline: A glimpse of Awards received
- 2017-18 “Digital Insurer of the Year Award” and “Technology Initiative of the Year Award” at the prestigious Asia Insurance Awards
- Bajaj Allianz General Insurance was conferred with Private Sector General Insurance Company of the Year at Fintelekt Insurance Awards 2017.The Company was also honored with Best Product Innovation Award, Personal Lines Growth Leadership Award (Private Sector) and Customer Education Initiative Award in general insurance category.
- Bajaj Allianz was conferred with Motor Insurance of the Year Award at Money Today Financial Awards organized by Business Today Group on 19th April 2017.
- BAGIC was accredited with iAAA rating by ICRA for the 11th consecutive time
- BAGIC digital marketing team wins DMAI Create Effect Awards 2017 for #NoMoreExcuses campaign
- BAGIC won Silver at ICMA awards for its ‘Mobile Asana’ initiative in #HealthkaNotification campaign under Best Use of Mobile Medium for marketing category at the 2nd edition of Indian Content Marketing Awards (ICMA) organized by exchange4media and Audacity.
- General Insurance Company of the Year (Private Sector) by Indian Insurance Awards 2016,
- Insurance Asia Awards 2016
- Domestic General Insurer of the Year
- New Insurance Product of the Year
- CEO of the Year
- “Best Non-Life Insurance Provider”, the “Best Motor Insurance Provider” and was the runner-up for “Health Insurance Provider” at the Outlook Money Awards 2016
- Drive Smart recently received the BFSI Digital Innovators Award conferred by the Indian Express Group, in the ‘Digital Pioneer’ category
- SKOCH Smart Technology Award 2016&SKOCH Insurance Award 2016 for Drive Smart & Virtual office respectively at the 46th SKOCH summit
- HR Innovation Awards 2016 – ‘HR Team of the year’ and ‘Most Innovative use of HR Technology for MobiBuZZ’ at the HR Innovation Awards 2016
- India’s Leading Insurance Company- Non-Life Private at India’s Leading BFSI Companies & Awards 2017 organized by Dun & Bradstreet.
- Best Brands in India by The ET Premium Brands study conducted amongst 500 CXO’s from some of the top organizations of our country.
- The Brand Trust Report India Study 2016 ranked Bajaj Allianz as India’s One of the Most Trusted General Insurance Brand in a study covering 20,000 brands across 16 cities.
- White Page International – the World’s largest multi-format platform for branding recognized BAGIC as “India’s Most Admired Brands 2015-16” and Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO, as “Best Admired Leader”.