Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Naval Goel says, “As insurance is a complex product, comparison portals will help save a lot of money for consumers who are tech savvy or have a basic knowledge of using the internet.”
Brief us about your business model. What led you to start this venture?
During one of my consulting assignments in US, I had a stint with AIG. That is where I started comparing the Indian market with developed markets and decided to come back and start PolicyX.com to enable digitization of the insurance industry. India had just started embracing the digital revolution and PolicyX.com was one of the latest entrants in the market. The company is IRDA approved and is headquartered at Gurgaon.
PolicyX.com provides live quotes and other comparison tools in the form of intuitive and easy to understand investment cash flow charts and info graphics, videos of the various products on offer that assists the customer in choosing a desired insurance plan with ease. The company has a strong team of young professional that help customers in every possible manner. It has also been nominated for the best website of the year 2014 and 2015.
We get paid by the insurance companies when customers purchase policies after comparing from our portal. The revenue model is commission-based. We are completely self-funded organisation till now.
What are the opportunities and challenges in this business?
Insurance industry in India is already over US$50 billion in size. Online insurance has just started picking up and is expected to contribute significantly to this in the next few years due to confluence of below mentioned factors:
Rising internet penetration
- Growing attractiveness of online products vs offline products – companies are launching cheaper and better plans for online audience as they are able to more customers at reduced cost of acquisitions.
- Reducing procedural hassles: Online buying process is much simpler and faster which enables the customer to make a purchase decision online within minutes sitting at home.
On a day to day basis, there are your usual challenges related with competition, business growth which involves exploring new avenues for growth in the already hyper-competitive online insurance market and dealing with multiple insurance companies and integrating different systems with our own system.
From the insurance industry point of view, what are the interesting trends being witnessed. What changes would you like to see?
The online insurance market is without a doubt growing at a very rapid pace. As stated earlier, the current market size is estimated at close to $50 billion and we expect the online channel to contribute nearly 50% of the total premium going forward.
As per the market estimates, still a majority of our population are uninsured or have very low insurance awareness. Hence both the life and non life segments have tremendous growth opportunities and online medium will play a major role in ensuring that insurance reaches each and every corner of the country and whosoever is eligible for insurance, gets insured
As competition rises, companies are launching better and innovative products
As insurance is a complex product, comparison portals will help save a lot of money for consumers who are tech savvy or have a basic knowledge of using the internet.
With insurance companies already reaching out directly to customers, what is the value proposition that you provide?
Even though individual insurance companies have online presence, customers would ideally want to compare multiple products from different companies before making a purchase. It is practically impossible for the customer to compare individual products by visiting each company website, therefore he would any day prefer a single platform (like PolicyX.com) which can suggest him the best plan and help him compare and choose by himself within minutes.
Online comparison have saved up to 50% of annual premiums for customers as it offers unbiased advice and help customers choose the plan which suits his requirements.
Our portal offers innovative cash flow charts, videos and graphics apart from articles that are available on various topics to make them understand the plans better and make an informed choice.
Additionally, our dedicated in-house delivery centre is always there to offer personal assistance to our customers and guide them at every purchase step
Comment on your financials. What is the revenue and profit outlook for the coming years?
We along with our insurance partners do a business of about 3000-4000 policies per month from visitors to our portal- PolicyX.com. If you assume a ticket size of 10k, the total premium would approximately be 3 crores per month. We would like to be the No.1 player in the segment by 2018 and hence, there has been a constant effort on our end to increase the customer experience on our website and constantly work on building a strong team of young professional, both at our corporate headquarter at Gurgaon and our delivery centre at Kirti Nagar. From a team of 3 individuals in 2013, we have scaled up to around 100 employees with a major share of them based out of our Kirti Nagar office.
In a short span of roughly 2 years, we have managed to achieve more than 0.5 million page views per month with an aim of reaching a target of 1 million by 2015 end. We were among the first two companies to get approved by IRDA under its new guidelines. In terms of traffic and leads, we are the #2 player in the online insurance category. We get more than 50,000 monthly queries on our portal for various products including child plans, pension plans, health insurance, motor insurance, term plans, travel plans, etc.
Cite some interesting trends you have seen among customer preferences or how they go about buying a policy?
Customers prefer to purchase policies online, however, most customers don’t complete the journey without tele-assistance. We see this changing in the coming years as customers become more knowledgeable about the products and as the journey get smoother with integration of newer features in the already existing product catalogue.
Insurance penetration remains lower. Do you see the need for much more awareness creation?
As per latest studies and market reports, insurance penetration in India stands at a dismal 4% which is way below the world average of 6.3%. The primary reason behind this low figure is lack of awareness among people regarding benefits of insurance policies. Low internet penetration is one of the major culprits as people in far flung areas are not even aware of what insurance is all about. Lesser disposable income also comes out a major hurdle in buying or renewing insurance policies.
However, with new players entering the online insurance segment and growing awareness among the youth of the country with regards to insurance, things are moving in the right direction with more and more people buying insurance online. With IRDA vouching for making it mandatory for insurers to move to online platforms, it is only going to be a win-win situation for the customers.