Fourth South Asian Regulators’ meet

According the insurance experts, there is a need to highlight the need for insurance and provide right solutions to spread awareness and increase its penetration. A galaxy of insurance stalwarts and insurance regulators from South Asian countries deliberated on a wide range of aspects during the International Insurance Conference and the Fourth South Asian Regulators’ meet hosted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.

“Reach out to people and explain what kind of insurance is required. We cannot slacken efforts to reach more people to spread insurance,” Arijit Basu, Managing Director and CEO, SBI Life Insurance, said in a panel discussion on the role of consumer awareness in enhancing insurance penetration.

Noting that even though about 30 crore people had life cover in the country, Basu said the sum assured was way below the needs. It is not about buying insurance once, but sustained premium payment is also vital. “We can lock in the customer for 15-20 years if combined efforts are made…” he added. Winning the trust of customers is vital not just for insurance penetration but also to post “good quarterly results by doing the right sale,” Basu pointed out.

According to Ritesh Kumar, MD and CEO, HDFC Ergo General Insurance, distribution should be strengthened by making the agents technology savvy and increasing their numbers.

Currently, there are about two million agents in life insurance and 3.60 lakh in non-life. “We need to go out into rural areas to spread awareness about general insurance,” he said. While life insurance penetration in the country is at 3.49 per cent, that of general insurance is less than 1 per cent, with some segments like home insurance having a very small customer-base.

Hemant Bhargava, Managing Director, LIC, said government schemes such as Prime Minister’s Jeevan Jyothi Bima Yojana, Suraksha Bima Yojana, Fasal Bima Yojana and the recently announced National Health Insurance scheme have brought insurance to the forefront.