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PNB MetLife: Strengthened by Bank Partners

PNB MetLife Insurance has been recording consistent growth in its business and ranks 7th among the private life insurance players during April-September 2015 (on ANBP basis). Tarun Chugh, MD & CEO, says the company has moved towards a solution-oriented approach with product propositions linked to its bank partner’s core business. ‘Family Suraksha Bachat Khata’ with Punjab National Bank is one such example, he says, adding as a result of the need-based selling and customer focussed approach of the company, it can monitor complaints and customer feedback seriously.“Our e-commerce platform, launched with an innovative health and online term plan, digitizing the sales process, online buying process strengthened with easy navigation, ‘click to call’ facility for instant query support and flexibility to track and review application, have indeed contributed to growth,” says he.

NEW PRODUCTS

As a customer-centric organisation, the company continuously listens to its consumers through research and feedback, with an endeavour to create solutions that meet their needs and expectations. Ithas made a foray into the e-commerce space with 2 innovative yet simple products, the health plan and the recently launched online term plan. MetLife Major Illness Premium Back Cover, or MMIPBC health plan, has brought in the concept of ‘Living Benefits’ – insurance if one falls ill and assured returns if one stays healthy. What makes this unique is the coverage against 35 critical illnesses, making it one of the most comprehensive plans in this category.

Chugh explains: “As per market data, only 14% of expenses incurred due to major illnesses are due to hospitalization, which is covered by the conventional mediclaim and health plans. This means 86% of cost is borne by the customers themselves. Hence, we introduced a benefit-based plan that provides policyholder with a lump sum amount on diagnosis of any critical illness covered under the policy. It is a benefit product and not a reimbursement one.”

MetLife Mera Term Plan (MMTP) isthe second offering on the online platform.It is a comprehensive and flexible term plan offering multiple options to financially protect one’s family. Given its features and easy buying process, one can create his/her own financial protection plan. The product covers a customer’s needs ranging from a simple term cover, monthly income for the family, child’s education expenses, to joint cover for the spouse and option to increase sum assured depending on life stages, among other benefits.

FOR RURAL POPULATION

PNB MetLife has tied up with all the 5 RRBs of Punjab National Bank in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. With this partnership, it is now able to reach out to over 2000 branches and more than 1.5 crore customers, who had access to bank products, but not life insurance. “We have deployed products with a low ticket size starting as low as Rs6000 per annum, specifically for the rural customer base. Additionally, we are also looking at providing loan protection products to cover agricultural loan customers of the banks. We have pilot-tested our proprietary bancassurance system, Met Smart, in one of the RRBs and plan to implement it across all for improved efficiency in operations,” says Chugh.

The company has also tied up with J&K Bank, which is also a bank partner for it. The bank has more than 11 lakh customers and 215 branches in the state.

DIFFERENTIATORS

PNB MetLife offers innovative products with competitive pricing. Industry customers look for insurance policies that address the financial security need for their dependents. “Our approach towards product diversification and innovation has increased customer engagement and will surely reflect in our business performance,” contends Chugh.

The company follows a planned approach and hence, its focus for the year has been strengthening its business and entering the digital age. Its website is customer friendly and intuitive. Chugh says the company has launched an e-commerce platform, digitized the sales process, strengthened the online buying process with easy navigation, introduced ‘click to call’ facility for instant query support and given flexibility to track and review application. Moreover, the payment gateway has been strengthened with Airtel Money, Paytm, Mobikwik along with regular, credit / debit card and net banking options.

The companyalso follows a balanced approach with respect to product mix. In its business, ULIPs account for 35%, pure term, including group, 8-10% and the rest is traditional.

TECHNOLOGY

PNB MetLife hasintroduced IT solutions to drive efficiencies starting from an enhanced onboarding process to ensuring faster claim processing. Met Promiseis an automated claims management system that helps in processing claims through a workflow and imaging system. The initiative has significantly improved turnaround time, which is nowjust2 days. Says Chugh: “This has helped inintegration between departments and cut down unnecessary work in filling up multiple applications internally to process claims and further helped in making claim processing system paperless internally. We have recently made an entry into the social media space and look forward to creating continuous engagement to further build our brand and create greater recall.”

PROFITABILITY

Persistency, improved efficiency in distribution and high productivity are critical to the path of profitability, says Chugh. “We are working on these key parameters, along with a continued focus on building strong technology processes. We are evaluating our options to determine the next steps,” he adds.

TARGETS

The companyremains focused on meeting its customers’ needs and create offerings for meeting their long term health and protection needs. “Our focus for the year is on strengthening our online sales platform, enhanced customer interaction and engagement digitally together with introduction of innovative solutions,” says Chugh.

Chugh adds: “Specifically to life insurance, the real penetration in terms of ‘protection cover’ is still a challenge in India. A person has insurance policies but is the cover enough is a key question. Also, a lot of ground still needs to be covered in the area of spreading insurance literacy so that people buy the right products and for the right reasons. This is also very important for long-term health of the sector. Banks are the most important avenues of channeling household savings into investment capital and insurance companies are also important financial intermediaries, which not only provide risk cover and tax planning to individuals, in turn supporting consumption, but also act as an important channel to fund investments.”

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