Interview with Mr G. Srinivasan
Chairman & MD – THE NEW INDIA ASSURANCE CO. LTD.
He enjoys the distinction of becoming Chairman Cum Managing Director of United India Insurance Co. Ltd, one of India’s leading PSU Insurance Company at a relatively young age in the year 2007. Prior to that also, he was Managing Director of The New India Assurance Co. (Trinidad & Tobago) Ltd., in the Caribbean island. Since 2012, he has been at the helm of affairs of The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., India’s largest non-life insurance company and has taken the company to a all time new height(high) during his eventful stint.
Soft and suave and modest to the fault, Mr. G. Srinivasan, B.Com, FIII, AICWA, ACMA, pursues his mission with great fervour and passion. Behind the soft veneer, however, lie a steel determination and the attitude of a go getter – the mantra behind his great success. An avid lover of carnatik music, Mr.Srinivasan is also a voracious reader.
In a candid and freewheeling interview, Mr.G.Srinivasan spoke to Dr. Rakesh Agarwal and Dr. A. K. Chattoraj.
Q. New India has been a market leader for years and a market leader leads the market with innovative products. What has been New India’s contribution in product innovation…?
New India has launched many innovative policies (products). We launched Griha Suvidha Policy- a very simple product. The main highlight of the policy is its simplicity and ease to the customer in providing the details and description of the contents and also a simple and hassle free process of claims administration.
The Top up product of New India in health Insurance sector is also very popular. This product helps to meet the need of high sum insured in health insurance policies. The Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana launched by the government at a very low premium has been very successful. More than 10 crore policies have been sold. Since the premium collection is linked with banks with minimum hassle for customers, the policy has been able to create very positive and effective awareness among the common public about benefits of insurance.
Our company has also launched a high premium i.e. Rs 1 crore mediclaim cover for the higher echelon of the society , the first such plan by a public sector company. Besides being available for a high sum insured, the policy covers most treatments that are otherwise not covered under common mediclaim policies and provides concierge services. The sum assured under this policy ranges from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The policy can be taken by an individual as well as a family floater cover by the family. We have been conscious that there is a section which needs a high value policy with very few restrictions. This prompted us to come out with this policy. We continue to look for opportunities to introduce innovative products to maintain our leadership position.
Q. New India has received many awards. What reasons do you attribute behind these award & achievements..?
A. Success of the company depends upon its team. A good team that rises to the occasion to collectively achieve the goals and objectives of the company is bound to succeed. There should be clarity of objectives and strategies. Our company has a very good team which works passionately in achieving the goals.
Q. Cabinet has approved the plan to list the five state-run general insurance companies including only state-owned reinsurer GIC Re. What are your plans to launch IPO?
A. Our Company has already started the listing process. It will take a few months for us to hit the market as we will have to file the prospectus, and finalise the banker to the issue,”
New India has huge asset base and investment. It shall reflect in our valuations. Our Company has been rated A-(Excellent – Stable outlook) by AM Best and CRISIL has reaffirmed its ‘ AAA/STABLE ‘ rating. The size of IPO offer and structure shall be decided in consultation with the selected banker and legal advisers subject to regulatory requirements. Among the four non-life insurers, New India will be the first to hit the market.
Q. Is your company also looking for Global Expansion?
We are already operating in 28 countries and we have got an office at Dubai and we are looking for a licence for the office to be converted to a branch. We are also looking for expanding in countries like Myanmar and Qatar.
New India has set up a shop in GIFT City couple of months back and we were the first insurance company to open our office there. Here we plan to do reinsurance business from foreign countries both facultative and treaties, direct insurance in other parts of the world and also to provide reinsurance support to Indian market to the extent we are permitted.
Q. How focussed is your company in CSR Activities?
A. Our company believes in the philosophy of giving back to the society. In India, a large chunk of population is still uninsured. We keep on organising mass awareness programmes to educate the consumers. The opening up of micro and one-man offices is a step in that direction. We already have 1000 micro offices and we are further planning to increase the reach to serve the society.
We are working very seriously on our vision statement which strives to transform India into a risk aware society from being a risk averse society. Through our mission statement, we are trying to achieve our vision by integrating social, environmental and health concerns of the Indian society into Company’s overall CSR Policy and programmes. We have initiated employment enhancing vocational skills, promotion of rural development projects, rural based sports etc.to promote CSR activities. School connect and village adoptions are our major CSR initiatives. The whole idea is to reach the bottom of the pyramid.
Q. According to you what will help to create Financial Inclusion.
A. There are 2-3 major factors in financial inclusion. The first one being creating awareness, extending the reach of micro office and expanding the network of Insurance agents. Second the launch of micro and small products, having low premium keeping in mind the needs of low income group people. And the third one, revolves around organising health care camps, creating awareness through mobile vans, mobilising opinion in villages etc.
Q. Do you think India has the potential to emerge as a Reinsurance Hub?
A. Yes definitely India has the potentiality to become Reinsurance hub. Currently the regulations are little restrictive. IRDAI will take a call on this and as the Insurance market in India matures, the reinsurance activities will also increase. Many Reinsurers have already setup their offices in India.
Q Health and Motor Insurance are major portfolios but at the same time –they are bleeding as well. Your views?
A. Motor Insurance portfolio has high incidence of losses. Most of the losses in Motor Insurance are in Motor third Party area. The third party premium is inadequate in comparison to the losses in this segment. There are huge numbers of uninsured vehicles –plying without mandatory liability insurance. Further in case of cashless settlement of Motor own damage claims, the claim ratio is rising at the dealers’ level. This is a cause of concern which needs to be addressed at the earliest.
Health insurance has also been witnessing huge losses. The losses are primarily due to high medical inflation . No regulations for service providers, lack of rate standardisation e.t.c are hurting the portfolio. For meeting up with the challenge, GIPSA has launched Preferred Provider Network (PPN). Under this programme public sector insurers have negotiated a special package rate from many hospitals across the country for common procedures/treatments. This will help us to limit the claims.
Public sector companies are going for their own TPA- Health Insurance TPA of India promoted by all public sector non life insurers. This will help us to bring efficiency in claim settlement and also reduce turnaround time.
Q Do you think in this age of extreme competition, technology is going to play a major role in Insurance Marketing and servicing.
A. Yes, technology is going to play a major role. Our company already has created online platform for purchasing policies online. Customers can get their policy document online in minutes. A large numbers of customers are using our online platform for buying as well as renewing old policies. Currently we are offering online facility for health, motor, rural segment and in some other chosen areas. In online, we are planning to launch more basic and simple products which can be readily bought online. We have equipped our marketing team also to issue online policies through our portal. We are also active in social media platforms. We are also offering 10% discount on first time purchase of policies online on some selective products.
Q. What are your initiatives in customer engagement?
A. We have a very good feedback system from customers. We get continuous feedback from our retail offices and marketing personnel on ground. We have a very sound Grievance Redressal management system where all complaints are dealt with promptly and if any customer is not satisfied, he can escalate his grievance. We ensure speedy and prompt disposal of claims.
Q. How has been your current year and what is your outlook for next financial year?
A. The financial year 2016-17 has been a year of high growth for the general insurance industry. The Insurance Industry in India is growing at about 27% to 28%. Our Company is also growing at that pace. This year, we have witnessed growth not only in the traditional lines like fire and marine but also in the retail lines like motor, health. The Government schemes like Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana have really pushed the premium growth in the general insurance sector. We hope to cross business of Rs.21000 crores this year.
We are expecting Rs 25,000 crore in premium income for 2017-18. Our major drivers of growth will be health insurance, motor insurance and crop insurance.
We are also looking at increasing the share of our overseas business from the current 18 per cent to 25 per cent in next five years. Overall we have a very positive outlook for the company.
Q:- What are your defining moments in life ?
A:- I remember two such defining moments in my career. In 2007, when I took over the reins of United India Insurance co.Ltd.-the company was going through a bad phase –ridden with many prickly issues. I was able to bring about complete change in the organization with the help of dedicated workforce. During this period , United India Insurance moved on to become the largest insurer by profits, and also registered lowest underwriting losses among public sector players. Similarly, when I took charge of New India, it was going through a phase of turmoil. Today New India has been able to establish itself as the undisputed market leader with market share surging ahead every year. In a way, I have a very satisfying feeling that I could play an important role in the turnaround of two of India’s well-known PSU companies.
Q:- How do you unwind …?
A:- I love listening to carnatik music. I am very fond of listening to the likes of M.S.Subbulakshmi and M.Balamurali Krishna. I also enjoy reading books, particularly anything related to insurance.
Q: Your humility touches us…. How could you remain so humble despite the fact you have to take tough decision at times?
A:- ( Smiles) I believe in inner peace and that keeps goading me. Humility comes from understanding the self. Positions cannot define individuals for they come and go with time. I always tell my fellow employees to take care of customers. We exist for them and, therefore, all our decisions should be customer focussed. What can be more satisfying than finding our customers feel both safe and secure doing business with us…?