Insurers need to realign products, distribution

Nov 15 2013, 11:02 IST
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Opening of the insurance sector led to large scale employment generation. Opening of the insurance sector led to large scale employment generation.
SummaryThere are 24 life insurance cos in India and except a few, most companies are joint ventures.

realities. They then started thinking in terms of benefit to customers and value creation for the investors.

The transition, however, did not prove easy and a few of them moved out. But inspite of sudden awareness regarding the deficiencies that they had built into the system, so far quite a good number of them have held on to their position and are struggling to manage the crisis of negative growth. This is so inspite of the direct interventions of the finance minister and a seemingly more understanding regulator in place for last eight months. This indicates that the leadership style has either led to a weak foundation or it has not been able to match the unique challenges of this business. The business of life insurance is the business of trust, long term relationship and of robust yet responsible salesmanship.

When the economic trends were highly favourable it was convenient to chase topline with unit-linked insurance plans and to believe that everything was on right track. The fundamentals of the business were overlooked or not understood by the new captains. It is the crisis that brings out the best in the leadership but unfortunately that does not seem to be happening. Now it is high time to identify the weak spots or the weak link and the stakeholders must act to establish the culture of accountability.

The crisis should motivate leaders to realign the products and distribution network to create market not hitherto cultivated.

The writer is advisor (Life) GIC Re and former MD & CEO Star Union Dai-ichi

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