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Interviews

“Digital fulfillment and tech enablement of services to change the way insurance looks today”— Praveen Gupta, MD and CEO, Raheja QBE

Praveen Gupta, MD and CEO, Raheja QBE

Technology today has transformed almost every sector across the globe and the insurance industry is no exception. With advanced digital capabilities and the availability of data in real-time, insurers form better relationships with customers, manage risks better and do quicker processing of claims. Newer technologies like IoT, blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) have given rise to new business models and use cases in the insurance sector.

We sat down this week to interview Raheja QBE’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer – Praveen Gupta. Raheja QBE General Insurance Company Limited is a leading general insurance company in India, and is a joint venture of Prism Cement Limited, India and QBE Holdings (AAP) Pty Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of QBE Insurance Group Limited, Australia.

Praveen is a postgraduate in history and a Fellow of both the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Insurance Institute of India. He has over three decades of rich experience in diverse markets of Thailand, Hong Kong, UK, and India and is a Member of Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD).

Praveen and his team at Raheja QBE are working towards creating a contrarian business model with many first-time initiatives in the marketplace. Read on as Praveen talks about insurance landscape in India, the impact of technology on it, about different offerings of Raheja QBE and a lot more.

1. Give our readers a quick overview of Raheja QBE and what makes it different from others in the general insurance sector?

Very often, we have been referred to as a ’boutique insurer’. Raheja QBE was licensed in the very thick of the detariffing phase. By default, we became a speciality insurer. We are a leading player in some very interesting niches such as Constrution PI, Media Liability and Clinical Trials Liability.

The business model, therefore, was around specialty lines with frugal resourcing and distribution only through brokers. Perhaps, we are the only insurer born in the detariffing era that conserved the initial capital and even grew it modestly. Thanks to our focused and deep involvement with brokers, we have built a vast distribution network way beyond our own physical presence. We hope to leverage the same in our retail push. Despite our small size, we should be one insurer with the highest per capita GWP.

2. How do you think Insurance as a sector has evolved from the last decade?

Has it truly evolved? Grown it has. Primarily driven by Motor, boosted by Heath and most recently a rich ‘harvest’ from Crop. Indeed, this would not have happened without technology. However, the knowledge pool has shrunk and become shallower. There is excessive focus on the ‘point of sale’ rather than ‘moment of truth’. The pricing conundrum and poor risk management, in the corporate commercial space, act as a double whammy. Insurers are measured by top-line and valuation rules the roost.

3. Give a brief about your offerings for both personal and corporate clients.

We are only beginning to venture in the personal lines now – with Individual Health and Motor Own Damage offerings. The corporate side is very specialty driven: Financial lines, Casualty, Trade Credit and Marine Liability.

4. What has been the biggest achievement of RQBE in 2017-18?

Thanks to the experience in mandated third-party Motor business, we realized how it was beginning to quietly build our brand. Something that gave us the confidence to look at the retail space more seriously. A tipping point for balancing our portfolio between short and long-tails.

5. There’s no doubt that new technologies have affected every industry sector. In Insurance sector, do you see a rising demand for insurance against cyber-attacks in addition to traditional insurances?

There is more noise than real demand or surge. The most vulnerable segment is working on a ‘pull factor’, for instance banks and financial institutions are the ones really beginning to buy cyber insurance. At the end of the day, let us hope the cyber solutions are meaningful both in terms of coverage and limit.

6. Do you think insurance providers should adopt latest technologies like cloud computing to deliver faster services to their end customers? Please shed some light on the role of cloud computing in the Insurance sector.

In terms of analytics and availability of computing power, Cloud Computing helps companies a lot. Also, with proper safeguards many customer facing portals and applications also become compatible with cloud.

7. Which technologies are you currently using in your company for performing operations and servicing customers?

We are building our new infrastructure for servicing Customers and Operations which would be using Robotics and Web services extensively.

8. What trends do you think will reshape the Insurance sector in the coming years?

Digital fulfillment and Tech enablement of services would change the way insurance looks today. Also, the Tech enabled infrastructure and ecosystem would change the way Insurance operates (Distribution, Servicing et al). Climate change and sustainability would be major factors reshaping the insurance sector.

Suggested reading: “Banks to experiment with new mobile applications and voice-enabled gadgets to enhance both delivery and contextual personalization”—Saket Agarwal, Global CEO, Spice Money

9. What do you think are the challenges in the growth and development of Insurance sector in India?

Low levels of trust; we do not communicate effectively despite doing some great work for the society and the economy; lack of inclusivity (rather than just diversity – as an industry we are still an old boys’ club); over emphasis on distribution rather than delivery.

10. What’s in your roadmap for 2019?

Widen and deepen our specialty offerings; build our presence in the retail space – primarily, Individual Health and Motor OD.

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