We are looking at tying up with small finance banks: Manoj Jain

We crossed the premium of Rs 1,000 crore and touched Rs 1,020 crore of gross premium in FY16. We also had a healthy growth of 38 percent in new business premium, collecting Rs 706 crores. Similarly, the annual premium equivalent grew 52 percent to Rs 454 crores in FY16. This was in comparison to Rs 299 crores collected in 2014-15. There are concerns that while new business premiums are growing, the number of policies is staying stagnant. Your view? While there has been a flat growth in the number of policies among some players, we’ve seen a 40 percent growth in the number of policies. For a company like us, which does not have a bank partner, this is good growth. Also, concerning renewals, we grew 37 percent in FY16 compared to FY15.

Did the tie-up with Telenor play a big role in new policy sales?

We had partnered with Telenor to offer free insurance to its customers. We have seen success in it since we have provided a cover to six million Telenor subscribers. Since it was a simple product with a minimum premium of Rs 10,000, it was beneficial to customers. Overall, we have covered 14 million lives, of which six million came from Telenor, and eight million came from micro-insurance and micro-finance customers Give Us Life.

Earlier, you had a big presence in the south. Have you shifted focus to other parts of the country as well?

In the past three years, we have opened around 300 offices. These have been predominantly located in other parts of the country since we have already had a good presence in the South. Earlier, the South accounted for 90 percent of the business, which now has 50 percent. Every year, we plan to open 70-75 branches. This year, we will open branches in the country’s northern, eastern, and western parts.

Are you looking to tie up with any banks shortly?

We do not have a bancassurance partner. We realized that since we missed the bus in tying up with banks earlier, we should look at small finance banks. We have identified two of them.

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Shriram Life has taken around a three percent stake in Ujjivan Financial Services and a five percent stake in Utkarsh Micro Finance. Since they will be getting into multiple corporate agency models to sell insurance products, they will also sell our products. This will give us a level playing field.

Has your foreign partner raised its stake in the life insurance company?

We had applied for the stake hike of our foreign partner, South-Africa-based Sanlam, from 26 percent to 49 percent. After that, a 23 percent stake increase will be done in the life insurance and general insurance company. Currently, we are waiting for approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Competition Commission of India.