Rising medical expenses and accidents make it mandatory to have insurance policies. When compared to earlier, number of people taking these policies is on the rise and there is a palpable change in thinking. There is increasing number of long term policies,” says SBI General Insurance Managing Director CEO Pushan Mahapatra. Insurance companies are also coming up with newer policies per the customer needs.
*what is the growth rate of general insurance policies when compared to earlier? Which are the policies most favored? Is there a change in customer pattern?
There are many new policies in general insurance now. 2016 saw many such. There is every chance that these may continue this year also. These all will help in the growth of general insurance sector. The first year premium has been increasing every year and saw 29% growth in the last year. Especially, there is growing prominence to crop insurance.
The performance of general insurance is very good. The trend clearly shows growing importance to motor, health and individual insurance policies as well as fire accident insurance policies. Customers are now using the latest available technology and there is clear change in mode of taking policy. Earlier customers used to follow whatever the policy advisor said. But now they are more knowledgeable and know what they want.
*Are the health insurance policies seen merely as tax saving options? Or as a need? What is your advice for new policy takers?
Still, there are very few general insurance policy takers in India but there is a clear change with time. with increasing health inflation and new diseases related to lifestyle changes, there is nowadays more inclination towards taking health insurance policies.
Everybody should have a health insurance policy. This can be further calibrated based on your social and financial condition. This saves all your savings from extinctions in times of a serious illness. It is always prudent to take a big policy if you have a bad family medical history. There is abundant information available regarding health policies and go through all of them before confirming.
*What are benefits of the new longterm vehicle insurance policies?
Many insurance companies are now coming up with vehicle insurance policies for durations of 2 and 3 years. SBI General Insurance also came up with one such policy. Apart from giving comprehensive insurance to the two-wheeler, this also insures third party and some insurance to the vehicle owner. There is opportunity to get subsidy in premium by taking such policies and also saves in case the premium rises in the future.
What is the extent of digitalization in insurance sector?
Digitalization is just at the beginning in general insurance sector and customers are slowly getting used to it and companies are working towards expansion of digitalization. This helps in digital services right from the time of taking the policy to all other services. There are attempts to start an information fund that sheds light on individual’s driving habits and health status but these are all in the primitive stage. The companies are also making arrangements to serve customers through social stages.
*what is general insurance sector expecting from the new budget?
General insurance has not reached people much yet. Most people are losing their heard earned money with increasing accidents, natural calamities and epidemics. We are requesting to increase the tax exemption limit to health insurance, which encourages more to take health policies.
Premiums paid to critical illness and accidental policies should be exempted from tax and along with these premiums of home insurance policy to be exempted from the tax is a longterm demand.