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 premiums, 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 remains stagnant. Your view? While there has been a some players, we’ve seen a 40 percent growth in the number of policies. This is good growth for a company like ours, which does not have a bank partner. 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. It benefited customers since it was a simple product with a minimum premium of Rs 10,000. 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. The South accounted for 90 percent of the business, which now has 50 percent. Every year, we plan to open 70-75 branches., we will open attachments 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. Since we missed the bus 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 get 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. We are waiting for approval from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Competition Commission of India.