BFSIGovernance & Policy

Insurance awareness cannot be spread by one stakeholder alone

S.S. Gopalarathnam, MD, Chola MS General Insurance, talks of the need for a joint effort to deepen insurance penetration

The winds of change have swept across India and ushered in new growth paradigms, and the insurance industry is no stranger to this. India harbors ambitions to become the third largest economy in the world, and India’s demographic dividend represents a huge opportunity for service providers.

With the Indian insurance industry expected to reach US$ 280 billion by 2020 driven by high levels of awareness, customizable & innovative products with easier access, the onus lies on policymakers and industry representatives to ensure more Indians are shepherded under the insurance umbrella.

We recently spoke to S.S. Gopalarathnam, MD, Chola MS General Insurance, and asked him to give his insights on ‘How we can educate the masses on the need for insurance’. Here’s what he had to say:

There are multiple stake holders (like Insurers, regulator – IRDAI, Govt. of India (GoI), GI Council, educational institutions (Schools / colleges), Media and the insured himself) involved in spreading insurance awareness among masses. Insurance awareness cannot be spread by one stakeholder alone, each stakeholder has a role to play.

Insurers need to ensure innovation and simplification along the entire insurance value chain from product development to claims payment is the key to attract and retain customers.

They must engage periodically with customers’ right from the pre-sale phase until renewals and further. Educate them on the features of the product, claims procedure, etc.

In Chola MS, we periodically run health camps pan India especially in Tier 2/3/4 cities to increase awareness of health insurance in India. Also we run motor simulators camps to identify driving patterns of the consumer and help them to enhancing their driving skills

The regulator – IRDAI – runs a consumer education / protection website to demystify the concepts of insurance and educating the public in general. They must evolve standard, simple products and uniform set of policy wordings for ease of customer understanding

The Government of India (GoI) has health insurance schemes like RSBY & Ayushman Bharat has really helped improve awareness of health insurance among masses. GoI can consider enhancing tax benefits for the insurance premiums paid by customers and can mandate health / life insurance for all on the same lines as motor third party. Many developed countries follow this practice.

The GI Council periodically conducted awareness campaigns, and education institutions can educate students on personal financial management, risk management and insurance as part of school / college curriculum.

The media for their part can create special programs in regional language specifically about Insurance in the same lines as agricultural program. Insurance being one of the complex products in the financial services space, media can help demystify the fundamental concepts of insurance.

The consumer himself should read / view various materials available about products / features / terms and conditions and them take an informed buy decision and not just based on price. He / she must assess the various risks faced, evaluate the various insurance products available in the market and pick up the appropriate covers.

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