Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Will continue to focus on online medium: K S Gopalakrishnan
Q&A with MD & CEO of Aegon Religare Life Insurance
M Saraswathy | Mumbai
January 22, 2014 Last Updated at 11:10 IST
Aegon Religare Life Insurance, which has been a strong player in the online insurance space, is looking to continue its focus in this segment. In an interview with M Saraswathy, K S Gopalakrishnan, MD & CEO of Aegon Religare Life Insurance talks about their strategy and the way forward. Excerpts:
The company is one of the largest players in the online insurance segment. Will the thrust on this channel continue?
The online channel is a strategically important channel for us. We view it as a medium where customers can experience products and buy them on their own. We started with term insurance and then evolved the product and included new covers like terminal illness benefit cover.
Later, we also came up with online Ulip and health product, fixed benefit product. In December end, we introduced savings cum insurance product. We have also launched few riders to go with the term products. Roughly, out of the total business, online is one-third, one third is proprietary channel (agency and salaried sales-force) and one-third is corporate agency and brokers. This is line with our business plan.
With the new product guidelines being implemented, are all your new products in place?
We had some products approved on September 30. Some more were pending, whose approvals have come across. There was a popular product (a without profit endowment type product) in the agency channel, which we migrated in November itself and did not wait for January.
It did have an impact. Any change will have a negative impact. It went for 4 weeks and since the last week of December, it had started settling in. Now, we can clearly say that the impact of product changes is behind us.
Aegon Religare has seen an almost 50% drop in net losses for the quarter ended September 2013. Is profitability on the anvil?
As volumes come up, losses will come down. We have a proprietary channel present in certain locations. We wanted to maximise business from existing locations and hence improve productivity. We are taking a hard look at the expenditure, taking out wasteful expenses and are sharp at managing our costs.
Now that there will be an open architecture of bancassurance (with banks as brokers), do you see increased opportunity?
Open architecture of bancassurance has not yet gone live. We have been waiting for it since the last five years. We are hoping that it opens up in one form or the other and is implemented. So, there is still clarity required. Whether it is optional or mandatory, whether it is only for public sector banks or private banks, we do not know. As soon as it opens up, we are ready to take the next steps.