IndiaFirst Life Insurance to focus on micro insurance products

To invest in big data and analytics to automate processes; to use conversational bots to improve customer service.

By Author  |  Published: 15th Feb 2017  10:53 am
Company is gearing up for new opportunities, says MD & CEO RM Vishakha

Hyderabad: IndiaFirst Life Insurance will look to tap the micro insurance markets with protection and guaranteed returns products. For this, it will consider tying up with microfinance institutions. It will also invest in big data, analytics and predictive modelling technologies to automate its processes, said RM Vishakha, managing director and chief executive officer.

“The mass and micro markets have no one to advise as the costs of service is high compared to the premium collected as ticket sizes are small. But we believe that if we use technology, we will be able to service micro markets at an optimal cost. The potential is enormous as the biggest chunk of the population sits at the bottom,” she said.

The products will be based on profile of customers, who lack financial know-how. It already has a tie-up with KGFS, the microfinance arm of IFMR, she said.

The company, in which Bank of Baroda holds 44 per cent, Andhra Bank 30 per cent and UK’s risk, wealth and investment company Legal and General 26 per cent respectively, has about six million customers. The gross premium- new business was Rs 1,192 crore as of December 2016, up from Rs 954 crore during the corresponding period of 2015. The retail premium as of December was Rs 213 crore, from Rs 125 crore.

“Our growth in overall retail has been 89 per cent till December over last year. But we hope to end the financial year with a 50 per cent y-o-y growth. Even though we had a good growth last year, sustaining the same rate of growth will be difficult. However, the outlook is positive,” the official said.

“Formal savings will increase and cash-based savings will decrease. We believe that there will be an uptake of savings products mainly due to the impact of demonetisation. However, with withdrawal limits being eased, it needs to be seen how much of the money deposited will stay in the bank accounts,” she explained.

“IndiaFirst Life will try and implement as many fintech ideas to improve customer experience and reduce costs for the customers on a sustainable basis. One of them will be to use artificial intelligence and NLP-based conversational bots,” said Vishakha adding that it will explore options to use data, analytics and predictive modelling to automate underwriting processes.

“We have two banks as promoters. We will look to serve the bank customers first. That is our focus area. We have revamped our online channel and look to increase our internet-based sales. These apart, we will have corporate agents and tie-ups with microfinance institutions for micro insurance products,” she said.

The insurance firm has invested in debt, equity and balanced funds in varying proportions. “We actively manage the investments and adhere to the IRDA provisions. We have an onus to live up to the trust customers have put on us,” the managing director said.