Mr. Rakesh Jain, one of the leading Business Leader and ED &CEO, Reliance General Insurance Company Limited. in a candid discussion with our editorial team.
Q1. Our viewers would like to know how has been your journey so far as CEO of Reliance General Insurance Company and what’s the way forward?
For the last nine years, my journey has been instrumental in driving Reliance General Insurance's continuous growth, innovation, and expansion. Today RGI is ranked 5th amongst the leading private general insurance companies in India (March - 20). The company has grown at a CAGR of 28% in the last 5 years.
As a next step, our focus is to provide an impetus on retail health insurance. As per IRDAI's, only ~4.2 crore individuals have a retail health policy. India's health spends are under 4 percent of its GDP compared to global average of ~10 percent. At the same time, our out-of-pocket spends are ~65 percent vis-a-vis global average of ~18 percent. We therefore plan to develop this segment and build a robust distribution strategy for health insurance in India. I also believe digital is the way to go for businesses – both large and small for a long time to come, which is why our focus on pan-digital communication with all our stakeholders has greatly increased in the current scenario.
Today, we are the preferred partner for many corporate groups. We intend to keep the wheel running and cross new milestones at each step by continuing to remain agile and efficient in embracing change and whatever challenge life throws at us.
Q2. How do you see the current crisis from the larger perspective of the country? What are the some of the key challenges and opportunity for us as a country?
The pandemic is the biggest healthcare crisis this world has seen in the last 100 years or so. The current crisis has also staggered the global economy, thereby resulting in an economic crisis. We are going through turbulent times, and to get through these times, we need to shift our focus to digitization. Technology is the only force that is capable of keeping the world going under terrible stress, and will help us come out of this crisis.
Given extremely low penetration for retail health in India, the current crisis provides a significant opportunity for insurers to focus on building distribution strategies. This will not only strive to offer health insurance to the masses but also to spread awareness about its importance. In fact, the insurance industry has embraced the change completely and is getting full support from the government and IRDAI to take our health insurance initiatives ahead. The new normal, as we call it, is here to stay. It is better for us to equip ourselves as a nation with the digital and technological know-how to survive and sustain in this new normal – whether it be purchasing a policy online, or working from home.
Q3. What Impact do you see of COVID 19 on General Insurance Industry? Do you see some benefits of increase in awareness amongst the people helping the industry especially on the health insurance side?
We definitely see the silver lining amidst the dark grey cloud that is COVID-19. For a country like India with abysmally low insurance penetration (at 0.97 percent as per Swiss Re sigma report for FY ‘19), the pandemic is a wake-up call our country needed to realize the importance of health insurance. We are working in full force to educate and empower our customers and increase traceability.
The challenge we as a country face is inadequate health insurance cover for people. Under the current inflated healthcare scenario, a basic insurance plan is no longer sufficient. It is imperative to have a comprehensive health plan that can cover all out-of-pocket spends. However, we can say that the pandemic has definitely aided in health insurance awareness. IRDAI too has launched affordable insurance plans to help first time buyers. We at RGI has launched a dedicated COVID-19 Protection Insurance cover to offer affordable insurance against the pandemic. As a brand, we always look to cater the needs of the market by introducing products that are relevant to the times.
Q4. Reliance General Insurance has been at the fore front of innovation; whether it is launch of new products or use of digital technology to better serve its customers. What`s the next big idea that we can expect from you in times to come?
The health and safety of our employees and customers is paramount for us at RGI under the current scenario. In light of the lockdown, we began our digital transition by migrating the online infrastructure, offline hardware and systems from office to respective people’s home, which wasn’t an easy feat in a short span of time. It is only through technology and the teams’ hard-work that we were able to equip our 5000+ strong customer support staff to offer round-the-clock assistance to our customers.
In line with the growing trend, we have also shifted our entire customer communication and product experience to digital channels. Being digital and customer-first, our tech-enabled systems were already in place to ensure easy policy issuance, renewal and claim assistance. We were well-equipped beforehand digitally. Now, all processes are undertaken either through our website, email, RIVA, or WhatsApp. Our AI assisted chatbot RIVA is fully equipped to manage customer queries and transactions under 2 minutes. We have equipped our agents with end-to-end digital solutions within SmartZone, for them to be able to service customers faster. In such times, it is yet another achievement for us to have bagged the ISO 31000:2018 assurance for risk management. In the last three months, we have introduced SMS links for direct policy purchase and claims, the motor floater policy which covers multiple vehicles under one policy, and many more such developments across verticals.
Q5. What are your top three key focus areas or priorities for 2020-21?
Given the current circumstances, I would say health is going to be our focus for a long time to come. That apart, seeing as the impending monsoon season is just a month away, we would also like to advise our customers to ensure safety of their capital assets and motor vehicles. Therefore, home and motor insurance also become a priority given the seasonal challenges that we foresee.
We will also be focusing on sachet products. Given the success of our dedicated COVID-19 cover, we see a huge potential for sachet insurance in the market. It is beneficial for people who may not be able to afford comprehensive insurance policies but still need and are looking for insurance cover.
Q6. Our viewers would like to know that as a successful business leader what is your mantra for success?
I truly believe self-discipline is the mantra not only being a successful leader, but a successful person. Whether it be routine, eating habits, fitness or work-life balance, it is critical to maintain personal discipline in life.
Q7. What would be your advice to young professionals and management graduates?
Like I mentioned before, self-discipline is paramount for success in life. This is especially important when you’re a student or a young professional who has just started their career. It is therefore important to respect and value your time and inculcate the self-discipline in life using which you will progress and prosper starting from a young age itself.
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