FinTech ecosystem in India has been blossoming since the last couple of years. While payment tech firms have existed for over a decade now, there has been a lot of development in other FinTech verticals as well. The subject of discussion here is the insurance tech space, where online companies are cutting short the lengthy process of negotiating with brokers and banks followed by endless documentation exchange, to allow consumers to buy insurance policies with just a few clicks.
A report by BCG & Google predicts that the size of the online insurance market will grow 20X between 2015 to 2020, reaching Rs 15,000 crore. This indicates the opportunity being created by technology, which is organising the scattered space of insurance retail. At present two of the leading firms in this space are Policybazaar and Coverfox, 1.5 million and 350,000 visits on a monthly basis, as per SimilarWeb. They are also the most funded firms in their segment with $69.6 million and $14 million raised till date.
In the midst of these established firms, there are startups which are gradually carving out a share of the total market opportunity by building their own USP. The larger objective is still to make insurance buying easier for all users through technology. Subir Mukherjee founded GIBL in 2014 with a similar aim, to eradicate the miss-selling of insurance policies through an easy informative web & mobile app based procurement platform.
An Introduction to GIBL
Subir’s own bad experience in dealing with health insurance brokers, and ‘nightmarish’ paperwork, led to him establish GreenLife Insurance Broking Pvt. Ltd. The company is building an intuitive web and mobile platform to enable customers to make their own decisions for policy buying, through a tech guided and personalised process. GIBL isn’t only an aggregator, it has a broking license from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority as well.
“We are giving customers the option to see multiple quotes & the features at their finger tips. So within few minutes they can understand what is good or not so good for them and take decision accordingly. It removes the dependency on what the agents are saying and accepting the price they are quoting.” says Subir.
About the Product
The product curates quotes from over 25 insurance providers across segments, and allows users to review them as per their requirement. Additionally, understanding the need to present documents repeatedly to redeem or renew policies, the mobile app in particular acts as a policy vault to store all policies, claim history etc.
The company claims to have tied up with insurance firms to give a better price to its customers, with an option to buy policies instantly without uploading their documents.
When asked about why would a consumer download an app for policy buying, Subir responded “Our App lets our customers have the flexibility to purchase a policy or do the research on the go. It will store their required policy documents, claim details, motor RC copy and all related documents at their finger tips. Now e-Policy for motor is being accepted, so no need to carry the hardcopy.“
The platform is built on Microsoft MVC technology, and take pride on their integrated work-flow and customer relationship management system. “We integrated continuous machine learning, profiling and pattern matching algorithm in our integrated system which brings automated sales suggestions to our team and help them bring more sales.” says Subir.
Progress Till Date
The company claims to have approximately 500,000 registered users and is seeing around 20,000+ monthly transactions. Subir says that they are growing at a 50% rate month on month. It acquires most of its users through content marketing and SEO efforts. In FY15-16 GIBL claims to have seen a growth of 5000% over the last financial year.
Additionally, the company is seeing a 90-95% renewal rate for policies bought through its platform.
Challenges in Building an Insurance Tech Firm in India
“I think our biggest challenge is the people’s faith on God and karma. As a nation we believe if we do good, nothing bad could happen to us as god is watching. So they feel they are already safe-guarded by God and he will protect them from any disaster. As the result, they think they don’t need any insurance protection from any company.” shares Subir. “Most people in India will prefer more to take the chance than being insured. It is kind of an extension of the Jugaad mentality. So educating the mass is still the pivotal challenge.” he adds.
Most of the people might not think of purchasing insurance unless they buy something new, or come in close contact with a health or accidental mishap. The traditional path of buying insurance is also tedious, there’s no straightforward way nor are the consumers aware of a go to person or a destination who would guide them right. The aforementioned research by BCG also predicts that in 2020, 25% of insurance buying decisions would be influenced by digital.
The startup is operating as a customer-first broker, educating them and guiding them wherever required. They are aiming at making policy buying, and claim settlement a piece of cake. Subir shares, ‘Recently we fought against two mighty insurers and settled more than Rs 15 lacs claim for our customers. They were delighted and their smile makes our job so easy.’
On Competition and Market
Considering that the investor funded companies have been able to build a name among consumers, we asked how will a new player like GIBL will sustain in the space, to which Subir responded “There are few companies out there, who have raised fund in this space. But current status of most of these companies is just like their other eCommerce peers. They are in big loss and if you dig deep, you will find out that, they are struggling for their existence. Spending money on advertisements can create brand but this doesn’t guarantee revenue. Their current revenue is not justifying the big spending. Burn rate of these companies are really high.”
Also, quoting the above mentioned prediction of the Rs 15000 crore market size by 2020, Subir opines “Online insurance is very fragmented and still there is not a single player with more than 10% of the existing market.” hence there is a lot of opportunity for more companies to start up in this space. With that said, the online insurance industry indeed has a lot of players in the market such as Policybachat, EasyPolicy, NammaPolicy, InsuringIndia, PolicyX and more.
“Being an insurance broker it gives us the advantage to design our own policy and able to expand both offline & online. The industry will take its own time to go totally online, so we are moving at our own pace. We are building up our niche and our special customer centric process, which will be keeping us ahead in the competition.” says Subir.