In­di­aFirst Life’s AI plat­form

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R.M. Vishakha, MD & CEO at In­di­aFirst Life In­sur­ance, speaks about var­i­ous busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tives in the com­pany

R.M. Vishakha, MD & CEO at In­di­aFirst Life In­sur­ance, speaks about var­i­ous busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy ini­tia­tives in the com­pany

In­di­aFirst Life, launched in 2009, is a joint ven­ture of two of In­dia’s old­est banks – Andhra Bank and Bank of Bar­oda - and UK’s Le­gal and Gen­eral, a lead­ing risk, wealth and in­vest­ment brand.

Mehul Dani: How would you rate the ban­cas­sur­ance model of In­di­aFirst Life?

R M Vishakha: Ban­cas­sur­ance in In­dia has proved to be a win-win model for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and banks. There is tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for ban­cas­sur­ance as over 40% of fi­nan­cial house­hold sav­ings in In­dia lie with the banks. The spread of bank­ing net­work en­ables the of­fer of rel­e­vant prod­ucts to the cus­tomers at the near­est point of con­tact. We at In­di­aFirst has ac­cess to the col­lec­tive net­work of 8000+ branches of both our part­ner banks and more than 50 mil­lion of their cus­tomers across In­dia, mak­ing ban­cas­sur­ance an ob­vi­ous pri­mary model of busi­ness op­er­a­tion for us. As a late en­trant into the mar­ket, it was es­sen­tial for us to garner crit­i­cal mass. Over a pe­riod of time, with the two banks as part­ners, ban­cas­sur­ance model has proved to be scal­able, sus­tain­able and prof­itable for us. Go­ing for­ward, we an­tic­i­pate higher lev­els of cus­tomer pen­e­tra­tion, which will help us scale up the busi­ness.

What should be the spe­cific ar­eas and level of the bank’s pre­pared­ness that you ex­pect as an in­surer from it?

Banks have moved from be­ing trans­ac­tion ori­ented to ser­vice ori­ented and they to­day un­der­stand the need to of­fer holis­tic wealth man­age­ment so­lu­tions to their cus­tomers. The abil­ity of the bank staff to un­der­stand the needs of the cus­tomers and of­fer req­ui­site prod­ucts based on suit­abil­ity is im­por­tant. We are happy that both our bank part­ners have been sup­port­ive of this and have en­cour­aged learn­ing and train­ing to meet cus­tomer needs ef­fec­tively.

What has been your strat­egy to gain mar­ket share?

In FY2017, we had a mar­ket share of 3.3% among pri­vate life in­sur­ers of In­dia and is the fastest grow­ing life in­sur­ance com­pany, with a yoy growth of 82% in in­di­vid­ual APE. While ban­cas­sur­ance is a dom­i­nant chan­nel at In­di­aFirst, we pride our­selves in adopt­ing a mul­ti­dis­tri­bu­tion model with busi­ness in­ter­est in mi­cro, agency, broking and cor­po­rate busi­ness. Con­tin­u­ing the growth story, we have wit­nessed a new busi­ness growth of in­di­vid­ual APE by 148% in Q1FY2018.

Do you find any con­cerns or is­sues re­lat­ing to risk man­age­ment in poli­cies sold by the banks? What is the dis­pute re­dres­sal mech­a­nism be­tween the bank and the com­pany?

Banks of­fer one-stop so­lu­tion for all their cus­tomers and in­sur­ance be­ing an in­te­gral part of per­sonal fi­nance, they rec­om­mend in­sur­ance so­lu­tions, post their due dili­gence. A for­mal griev­ance re­dres­sal mech­a­nism for In­di­aFirst Life In­sur­ance cus­tomer is in place through touch points by way of email, call cen­ter and web­site. We have also en­abled the banks to log in com­plaints di­rectly, which is in­te­grated with our CRM.

Are any new prod­ucts planned for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year? How do you pro­pose to grow busi­ness in ru­ral In­dia?

We will be in­tro­duc­ing new prod­ucts sub­ject to IRDAI ap­proval. We are launch­ing an in­no­va­tive sin­gle pre­mium prod­uct to cater to sea­sonal in­come cus­tomers. In ad­di­tion, we re­cently launched prod­ucts which aim to ad­dress spe­cific needs of ru­ral pop­u­la­tion seg­ments through em­bed­ded in­sur­ance cover that can also work as loy­alty ben­e­fit. We are com­mit­ted to bring­ing in­sur­ance to masses through right prod­ucts and our tie-ups with mi­cro lend­ing / ru­ral fo­cused in­sti­tutes like IFMR, CSCs and ru­ral bank chan­nels. We are aligned with the gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion of mak­ing in­sur­ance not only af­ford­able, but also sim­ple, ac­ces­si­ble and ef­fi­ciently ser­viced for the mass mar­ket. In­di­aFirst Life In­sur­ance is among the first in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to ad­vo­cate Prad­han Mantri Jee­van Jy­oti Bima Yo­jana (PMJJBY). The com­pany cov­ered 2.4 mil­lion lives in FY 2016-17, with roughly 87.5% of these be­ing per­sis­tent cus­tomers con­tin­u­ing for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year. Over the last 2 years, we have set­tled claims of nearly Rs167 crore and sup­ported more than 8000 fam­i­lies un­der PMJJBY alone.

We have adopted seam­less sales pro­cesses based on Aad­har and e-KYC to help over­come the pro­ce­dural chal­lenges of do­ing busi­ness in ru­ral In­dia. Such ini­tia­tives en­able us to ad­dress the

in­sur­ance needs of ru­ral In­dia. Go­ing for­ward, we in­tend to con­cep­tu­al­ize more prod­uct of­fer­ings for the ru­ral seg­ment.

Have you ex­panded your branch net­work re­cently?

We opened new branches in Patna, New Delhi, Ra­jah­mundry and Vi­jayawada in Septem­ber. Bi­har now has the dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing over 300 out­lets in­clud­ing 236 branches of Bank of Bar­oda and 67 branches of Andhra Bank. Andhra Pradesh has a to­tal of 3 branches in key cities of Vishakha­p­at­nam, Vi­jayawada and Ra­jah­mundry. We have a cor­po­rate agency tie-up with Chai­tanya Go­davari Grameena Bank in Gun­tur to reach out to its cus­tomers in over 106 branches across three dis­tricts of the hin­ter­land of Andhra Pradesh.

We have an agree­ment with vil­lage level en­trepreneurs (VLEs) for dis­tri­bu­tion of our prod­ucts. The dis­tri­bu­tion process is com­pletely seam­less due to the amal­ga­ma­tion of our tech­nol­ogy plat­form with that of the VLEs. We hand­hold the VLEs and hone the skills of ru­ral In­dia through the CSC move­ment to play a cru­cial role in im­prov­ing so­cial and fi­nan­cial de­vel­op­ment.

How are you us­ing so­cial me­dia for mar­ket­ing? What per­cent­age of busi­ness is gen­er­ated on­line? What mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties are planned for 2017-18?

With the evolv­ing dig­i­tal space, there is vast op­por­tu­nity to en­gage with the au­di­ence. We un­der­stand that a large vol­ume of mil­len­ni­als is on so­cial plat­forms. We found that in­sur­ance is still sold and not bought in our coun­try. Hence, our ob­jec­tive is not only to tap the cus­tomers through on­line mar­ket­ing but also to cre­ate in­sur­ance aware­ness. Out of the many of In­di­aFirst Life In­sur­ance cam­paigns on so­cial me­dia plat­form, we pride our­selves on ‘Free­dom from il­lit­er­acy’ cam­paign, which was well re­ceived and at­tracted wider eye­balls. We wit­nessed 3 mil­lion im­pres­sions on Twit­ter dur­ing this cam­paign. We have been able to achieve an av­er­age en­gage­ment rate of 10-12% or­gan­i­cally on Face­book. We be­lieve that our cus­tomers are the big­gest in­flu­encers to in­crease brand aware­ness and adop­tion.

What is the progress in IT im­ple­men­ta­tion in the last 12 months?

We see tech­nol­ogy as one of the big­gest en­ablers. We have lever­aged tech­nol­ogy to en­able en­hanced con­ve­nience to cus­tomers and thereby sim­pli­fy­ing the pro­cesses to en­cour­age seam­less and er­ror free pro­ce­dures. We have in­tro­duced the ‘In­di­aFirst Life In­te­grated In­sur­ance Sales Plat­form’ (IIISP), a seam­less and easy-to-use sales so­lu­tion, avail­able on­line and off­line for the field sales to man­age their day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties in a smooth and ef­fi­cient man­ner with lit­tle or no de­pen­dence on back-of­fice for sales ful­fil­ment. This ini­tia­tive brought in 62.3% im­prove­ment to pol­icy is­suance turn­around time and sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in use of pa­per­based ap­pli­ca­tion forms, now lim­ited to 5% of the to­tal re­tail vol­ume.

Re­cently we have up­graded the IIISP plat­form, suc­cess­fully in­cor­po­rat­ing a chat­bot and en­hanced learn­ing man­age­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

We have also spear­headed the de­ploy­ment of end-to-end au­toma­tion us­ing an­a­lyt­ics and ma­chine learn­ing, thus eas­ing the claim set­tle­ment process and iden­ti­fy­ing fraud through risk-scor­ing mech­a­nism.

We have very re­cently de­vel­oped IRIS, an indige­nous chat-bot. IRIS is built into IIISP, which has con­trib­uted to im­proved sales pro­duc­tiv­ity and op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies. Each ap­pli­ca­tion un­der IIISP caters to spe­cific needs of ev­ery stage in the sales life­cy­cle and thus acts as a com­pre­hen­sive sales en­abler, with ac­cess to ser­vices both on­line and off­line.

IRIS, coined from In­di­aFirst Re­sponds, pro­vides quick and real-time so­lu­tions via a live chat ex­pe­ri­ence. The chat-bot read­ily sup­ports with queries around pre­mium cal­cu­la­tions, fund value, ap­pli­ca­tion and CFR, or Call for Re­quest, sta­tus. Sales can even call upon IRIS for pre­mium re­ceipts, tax state­ments, etc, mak­ing it more ro­bust and sales­force-friendly.

As much as 90% of our ap­pli­ca­tions are pro­cessed pa­per­less to­day. Even claims are pro­cessed on­line, re­quir­ing no pa­per. IRIS, op­er­a­tional 24x7, adds to our sales plat­form’s over­all ca­pa­bil­i­ties and user­friend­li­ness. Tech­nol­ogy and au­toma­tion, thus, en­able us to do bet­ter and do more in ef­fi­cient man­ner across the value-chain, for the cus­tomers’ ben­e­fit.

As an in­surer with its own dis­tinct chat-bot, In­di­aFirst Life is now among the hand­ful of firms in In­dia that have adopted Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) to both sell in­sur­ance poli­cies and raise the bar in in­tu­itive cus­tomer ser­vice and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Do you have any plans to go pub­lic? What are the over­all tar­gets and ex­pan­sion plans for 2017-18?

We had a suc­cess­ful FY2016-17, declar­ing `350 mil­lion profit and is on course to cross `500 mil­lion profit for 2017-18. The share­hold­ers are participative and sup­port­ive on our strate­gies. We in­tend to grow faster than the in­dus­try and ex­pect to main­tain a CAGR of 30%. We had recorded 82% growth, the high­est since its in­cep­tion 7 years ago and has emerged as the fastest grow­ing life in­sur­ance com­pany for the fis­cal 2017 with a re­tail pre­mium APE col­lec­tion of `4.03 bil­lion.

R M Vishakha is proud that the com­pany is among the pi­o­neers in lever­ag­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to strengthen sales and cus­tomer ser­vice

R.M. Vishakha, MD & CEO, open­ing a new branch at Con­naught Place in Delhi

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