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Sumit Bohra, President of the Insurance Brokers Association of India (IBAI), shares insightful views on industry issues, technological adaptations, sustainability, and geopolitics.

Ravi Lalwani: Please give a profile of your members. How has membership evolved over the last 3 years?

Sumit Bohra: The Insurance Brokers Association of India (IBAI) is a professional body representing all IRDAI licensed insurance brokers in India. Insurance brokers are intermediaries who assist individuals and businesses in obtaining insurance coverage from insurance companies. They act as advisors, helping clients assess their insurance needs and find suitable policies from various insurers. Primarily there are 3 categories – direct brokers, composite brokers and reinsurance brokers. Currently we have around 665 licensed brokers in India, IBAI membership has evolved over the past 3 years, driven by industry growth, regulatory changes, market dynamics, technological advancements, etc.

What are the most pressing issues facing insurance brokers in the country today, and what steps are being taken to address them?

I would identify several pressing issues facing insurance brokers in the country today:

Regulatory Compliance: The insurance industry in India is subject to various regulations and compliance requirements set by IRDAI. Compliance with these regulations can be complex and time-consuming for insurance brokers, requiring constant monitoring and adaptation to changing requirements.

Technological Disruption: The emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and big data analytics is reshaping the insurance industry. Insurance brokers need to invest in technology to stay competitive and provide better services to their clients. However, adopting new technologies also brings challenges such as data security and privacy concerns.

Market Dynamics: The insurance market in India is highly competitive, with both domestic and international players vying for market share. Insurance brokers face challenges in differentiating their services and adding value to clients in a crowded marketplace.

Customer Education: There is a need for greater awareness and education among consumers about the importance of insurance and the role of insurance brokers. Many people in India still lack adequate insurance coverage or understanding of insurance products, which presents an opportunity for insurance brokers to expand their market reach.

To address these pressing issues, IBAI is taking several steps:

Advocacy and Representation: We are actively engaging with regulatory authorities such as IRDAI to represent the interests of insurance brokers and advocate for policies that support the growth and development of the industry.

Training & Education: We are organizing training programs and workshops to help insurance brokers stay updated on regulatory changes, emerging technologies, and best practices in the industry. This includes promoting professional certifications and continuing education for insurance brokers.

Technology Adoption: We are encouraging insurance brokers to embrace technology and providing support in adopting digital tools and solutions to streamline their operations, enhance customer experience, and improve efficiency.

Consumer Awareness Campaigns: We are launching campaigns to educate consumers about the benefits of insurance and the value proposition offered by insurance brokers. This includes disseminating information through various channels such as social media, seminars, and workshops.

The most important issue is of renewal of license, which according to us should be perpetual or atleast automatic in nature which gives comfort for BCP to the members. Secondly the compliance levels keeps on increasing thereby putting lot of pressure on the brokers as far as expense in concerned. Representation has already been sent to IRDAI to look into the matter.

How have insurance brokers adapted to the evolving technology landscape? What new opportunities is technology enabling that was not possible earlier?

Insurance brokers have adapted to the evolving technology landscape by leveraging various digital tools and platforms to enhance their services and streamline their operations. Some key adaptations and opportunities enabled by technology include:

Digital Platforms & Online Portals: Insurance brokers have developed digital platforms and online portals where clients can access information, manage policies, file claims, and communicate with brokers conveniently. These platforms provide a seamless user experience and allow for 24×7 access to services.

Data Analytics & Predictive Modeling: With advancements in data analytics and predictive modeling, insurance brokers can better assess risks, personalize insurance solutions, and optimize pricing strategies. By analyzing large datasets, brokers can identify trends, patterns, and potential risks more effectively than ever before.

Mobile Applications: Many insurance brokers have developed mobile applications that enable clients to access services on their smartphones or tablets. These apps often offer features such as policy management, claims submission, real-time updates, and digital document storage, enhancing convenience and accessibility for clients.

AI & Chatbots: Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbot technology have been integrated into insurance broker services to provide instant assistance, answer queries, and guide clients through various processes. Chatbots can handle routine inquiries, freeing up brokers’ time to focus on more complex tasks and providing clients with faster responses.

Blockchain: Blockchain technology is being explored in the insurance industry to improve transparency, security, and efficiency in transactions such as policy issuance, claims processing, and fraud detection. Insurance brokers are exploring ways to leverage blockchain for tasks like verifying identities, managing contracts, and facilitating secure transactions.

Remote Collaboration Tools: With the rise of remote work and virtual collaboration, insurance brokers have adopted various tools such as video conferencing, document sharing platforms, and project management software to communicate with clients, collaborate with team members, and streamline workflows regardless of geographical location.

Cybersecurity Measures: As digital technologies become more prevalent, cybersecurity has become a top priority for insurance brokers. They are investing in robust cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive client data, prevent cyberattacks, and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Technology has opened up new opportunities for insurance brokers to enhance their services, improve operational efficiency, and provide greater value to clients. By embracing digital transformation and leveraging innovative technologies, insurance brokers can stay competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace while meeting the evolving needs of their clients.

With the increasing emphasis on sustainability and climate resilience, in what areas are insurance brokers developing specialized expertise?

Insurance brokers are developing specialized expertise in several areas to address the growing emphasis on sustainability and climate resilience. Some of these areas include:

Climate Risk Assessment: Insurance brokers are increasingly equipped to assess climate-related risks faced by businesses and individuals. This involves evaluating the potential impacts of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and droughts, on assets, operations, and supply chains.

Green Insurance Products: Brokers are developing and promoting insurance products tailored to support sustainable practices. This includes coverage for renewable energy projects, energy-efficient buildings, and eco-friendly technologies. Additionally, insurance solutions for carbon offset projects and biodiversity conservation initiatives are gaining traction.

Parametric Insurance: Parametric insurance pays out based on predefined triggers, such as wind speed or rainfall levels, rather than traditional loss assessments. Brokers are increasingly offering parametric insurance products for climate-related risks, providing faster payouts and reducing administrative burdens.

Climate Adaptation Strategies: Brokers are advising clients on strategies to adapt to climate change impacts and improve resilience. This may involve recommending investments in infrastructure upgrades, implementing risk management measures, and incorporating climate risk considerations into business continuity plans.

Data Analytics and Modeling: Leveraging advanced data analytics and modeling techniques, brokers are better able to quantify and manage climate risks. They use historical weather data, climate projections, and catastrophe modeling tools to assess risk exposure and develop risk mitigation strategies.

vi) Supply Chain Risk Management: Brokers are assisting businesses in evaluating and mitigating climate-related risks within their supply chains. This involves identifying vulnerable suppliers, assessing potential disruptions from climate-related events, and implementing contingency plans to ensure continuity of operations.

Regulatory Compliance: With the increasing focus on sustainability and climate-related regulations, brokers are helping clients navigate complex compliance requirements. This includes staying informed about evolving regulatory landscapes and advising clients on strategies to remain compliant with relevant laws and standards.

Sustainable Finance Solutions: Brokers are exploring innovative financial instruments, such as green bonds and environmental insurance-linked securities, to support sustainable development initiatives. These instruments help mobilize capital for climate-resilient projects while providing risk transfer solutions for investors and project developers.

Can you share any recent trends or innovations among insurance brokers that you believe have the potential to significantly reshape the market landscape?

Several trends and innovations were shaping the landscape of insurance brokers potential areas that have evolved:

Digitalization and Insurtech Integration: The integration of technology, particularly through Insurtech solutions, continues to transform the insurance brokerage industry. Insurtech startups are offering advanced digital platforms for brokers to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and optimize risk management processes. Features such as AI-powered chatbots for customer support, data analytics for personalized policy recommendations, and digital claims processing are becoming more prevalent.

Data Analytics and Predictive Modeling: Insurance brokers are increasingly leveraging data analytics and predictive modeling techniques to assess risks more accurately and tailor insurance solutions to individual clients’ needs. By analyzing vast amounts of data, brokers can better understand market trends, customer behaviors, and emerging risks, enabling them to offer more competitive and customized insurance products.

Expansion of Cyber Insurance: With the growing threat of cyber attacks and data breaches, the demand for cyber insurance coverage has surged. Insurance brokers are playing a vital role in educating businesses about cyber risks and offering comprehensive cyber insurance policies to mitigate potential financial losses. Brokers are also collaborating with cybersecurity firms to develop innovative risk management strategies and proactive security measures.

Focus on ESG Factors: As environmental and social concerns gain prominence globally, insurance brokers are increasingly integrating ESG considerations into their risk assessments and insurance offerings. Brokers are developing sustainable insurance products, such as climate risk coverage and green bonds, to address environmental risks and support clients’ sustainability initiatives.

Personalization and Customer-Centric Approach: To stay competitive in a crowded market, insurance brokers are placing greater emphasis on personalized customer experiences. By leveraging advanced analytics and digital tools, brokers can offer tailored insurance solutions that meet individual customer needs and preferences. Additionally, brokers are investing in omnichannel distribution channels to provide seamless and convenient interactions across multiple touchpoints.

Regulatory Compliance and Governance: Regulatory compliance remains a key focus for insurance brokers, particularly with the implementation of new regulations and standards. Brokers are investing in robust compliance management systems and governance frameworks to ensure adherence to regulatory requirements and maintain trust with clients. Additionally, brokers are enhancing transparency and disclosure practices to provide clients with clear information about coverage options, terms, and pricing.

The Point of Sale Person (POSP) model has changed the landscape of the industry where a 12th pass person can sell the OTC products through a handheld device which is fully supported by the Broker. This platfrom not only offers choice to the customer but also allows to issue instant policy.

What kinds of financial literacy have insurance brokers undertaken and what has been the resulting impact?

Insurance brokers in India typically undergo various forms of financial literacy to enhance their understanding of insurance products, risk management, regulatory compliance, and financial planning. Key areas of financial literacy that insurance brokers in India may undertake include (i) Insurance Products and Coverage (ii) Risk Assessment & Management (iii) Regulatory Compliance (iv) Financial Planning & Advisory Services (v) Ethical Practices and Professionalism (encompassing ethical practices, client confidentiality, conflict of interest management, and professional conduct).

IBAI has recently prepared a module for education of school and college going students and have circulated amongst all the broker members. We have already done 3-4 session with school children and have got good response.

Considering the risks arising from international geopolitics, what expertise have insurance brokers in India developed?

Insurance brokers in India, like their counterparts worldwide, have developed expertise in managing risks arising from international geopolitics. Some key areas of expertise they have developed include:

Political Risk Insurance: Insurance brokers assist businesses in obtaining political risk insurance to protect against losses due to political instability, government actions, or regulatory changes in foreign countries. This insurance covers risks such as expropriation, currency inconvertibility, political violence, and breach of contract by foreign governments.

Country Risk Assessment: Insurance brokers conduct thorough assessments of political and economic conditions in various countries to evaluate the risks associated with conducting business there. They provide insights into geopolitical events, regulatory changes, and socio-economic factors that could impact businesses operating internationally.

Customized Risk Management Solutions: Insurance brokers work closely with businesses to develop customized risk management solutions tailored to their specific international operations and exposures. This may include structuring insurance programs that address political, regulatory, and security risks unique to each client’s situation.

Crisis Management and Response: Insurance brokers help businesses develop crisis management plans and response strategies to mitigate the impact of geopolitical risks. This may involve providing guidance on evacuation procedures, emergency communications, and accessing resources such as security services and political risk consultants in the event of a crisis.

Legal and Compliance Expertise: Insurance brokers stay updated on international laws, regulations, and sanctions that could affect businesses operating across borders. They provide guidance on compliance requirements and help businesses navigate complex legal landscapes to ensure they are adequately protected.

Market Knowledge and Relationships: Insurance brokers have extensive market knowledge and maintain relationships with international insurers and underwriters specializing in political risk insurance. This enables them to access a wide range of insurance products and negotiate favourable terms and pricing on behalf of their clients.

Claims Management: In the event of a loss resulting from geopolitical risks, insurance brokers assist businesses in navigating the claims process and advocating on their behalf to ensure fair and timely settlement of claims.

Insurance brokers in India have developed sophisticated expertise in managing geopolitical risks to help businesses safeguard their international operations and investments. They play a crucial role in helping businesses understand, assess, and mitigate the complex and dynamic risks arising from international geopolitics.


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