Universal Sompo General Insurance-Ensuring Insurance Penetration with Innovation

O N Singh, Chairman, Universal Sompo General Insurance Company Ltd

Universal Sompo General Insurance is driven by the mission to provide world-class services and products to the customers and deliver stable returns for the shareholders. The company has always been a front-runner in identifying opportunities in extending insurance benefits to masses, says O N Singh, Chairman, Universal Sompo General Insurance Company Ltd, in conversation with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).

Tell us about Universal Sompo General Insurance and its operations in India.

 Universal Sompo General Insurance has been operating with a vision “To emerge as a market leader in our chosen domain by winning customer confidence through superior value and continually enhancing the same.”  This philosophy has been engraved within the company to constantly drive Universal Sompo to enhance its innovative and customised risk solution offerings across customer segments utilising traditional as well as emerging distribution channels.

Universal Sompo General Insurance has a bouquet of 137 Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) approved products. It has a mandate to extend Insurance coverage to rural and urban retail customers as well as corporate and Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) clients. Further, the product line extends across business segments like fire, engineering, marine, motor insurance, health insurance (both retail and group mediclaim), liability including cyber liability, personal accident policy including Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Crop Insurance under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

 Universal Sompo has grown step by step in its 10-year journey. The company has always performed better than industry benchmarks in terms of growth as well as on key operating parameters. The company has achieved Gross Premium of Rs 1,287.23 crore with a premium growth of 42.43 per cent as compared with industry growth of 32.43 per cent in 2016-17.

The company takes immense pride in covering a total customer base of more than 1.10 crore of which 10,81,271 farmers are covered under Prandhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) scheme and 46,32,223  are covered under Prandhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) in 2016-17.

The company has been awarded with some of the distinguished awards like “Best Customer Service Provider of the Year” at 2nd Annual India Insurance Summit, “Fintelekt-Insurance Awards 2017 for Leadership in Claim Service”, “BFSI- Personal Line Broking Initiative of the Year” by ABP Network, “Skoch-Order of Merit 2016” by Skoch Group for company’s various customer-centric efforts in extending the benefits of insurance products to rural as well as urban customers.

How are the services of Universal Sompo different from other counterparts in this domain? How is information technology (IT) helping you in improving your delivery mechanism?

Universal Sompo is driven by the mission to provide world class services and products to the customers and deliver stable returns for the shareholders. The company has always remained a front runner in identifying the opportunities in extending insurance benefits to masses.

 The Company was among the first insurers to partner with Common Services Centers (CSC) e-Governance Services India Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle under MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) under the Government of India to extend insurance benefits to rural India through Common Service Centres. The company was also front runner in identifying opportunities to tap Point of Sale persons to extend insurance benefits to underserved marginalised masses in semi-urban and rural areas.

The extensive distribution network of our Partner Banks viz. Allahabad Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and Karnataka Bank along with various customer service interventions like 24/7 customer care operations and efficient and fast redressal of claim has made Universal Sompo a preferred Insurer in Retail General Insurance Domain.

The company is leveraging Information Technology in a huge way to greatly enhance the insurance delivery mechanism whether in terms of its seamless connectivity with more than 7,500 Partner Bank Branches to its connectivity with Common Service Centers in the remotest rural hinterlands. The company has also developed M-POS, a mobile application for POS (Point of Sales) Channel to extend insurance coverage at the tip of the POS person thus helping in instant policy generation for its customers.

Universal Sompo is gradually evolving its distribution strategy. What is the growth strategy that your company is looking at?

In its 10 years journey, Universal Sompo General Insurance has always maintained a focused approach towards striking a balance among growth, market share and profitability.

Going forward, the company will ensure to improve its market share along with ensuring positive underwriting profit over next few years. The company is taking various initiatives towards brining efficiencies in customer servicing, operational support and claim management which will benefit our customers as well as help the company to improve its overall combined ratio.

The company is also looking forward to raising additional funds through right issues which will help in charting the growth trajectory. It will also help with enhancing customer-centric initiatives and strengthening the distribution network. In terms of distribution network, the company has envisioned appointing 8,000 POS persons to solicit and extend insurance benefits to underinsured marginalised section of the society.

The company is also studying the feasibility of utilising Business Correspondents of the Partner Banks to extend risk solution products including micro-insurance to remotest and interior parts of rural India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government has a vision to empower people of semi-urban and rural areas. How is Universal Sompo planning to contribute for the cause?

With a vision to empower people in semi-urban and rural areas, the present government indeed has taken several initiatives in the recent times. The government has taken digital initiatives to empower rural India and ensured that Government services are made available to citizens electronically by improved online infrastructure. From insurance perspective, the Centre took initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and has promoted Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and health schemes to benefit rural counterparts.

Complementing the vision of the Government of India for rural empowerment, Universal Sompo General Insurance has participated in all government schemes initiated by the Government of India to benefit rural people.

The general insurance business is expected to grow faster as the economy is likely to improve here on. Kindly share the future plans of Universal Sompo.

The General Insurance Industry shares a positive correlation with economic growth. Hence, as economic growth is expected to improve in next financial year, we believe general insurance segment will further pace up.

Next year, our brand will be focusing towards modernising and transferring our internal system in terms of interaction with counterparties, customers and regulators.

From business perspective, considering the growing demand, we will keep our focus on lucrative segment like Individual Health as well as Motor, as we are quite keen to increase our presence at pan- India via all the channels /mode of business acquisition.

We are keen to evolve its distribution strategy by increasing its presence among online buyers. For this we will be focusing to take leverage new distribution channels (namely Common services centers (CSCs), POS (point of sales), Web aggregators) to increase insurance penetration in rural /semi urban India.

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