Adopt to accelerate: Riding megatrends to increase life insurance penetration in India

| 24 Jan 2022

The FY 2020-21 report by The Economic Survey reported an increased insurance penetration to 2.82% from 2.74% in 2018. Albeit an improvement, there is much work ahead for the industry to educate the population on financial protection.

Due to lack of awareness on life insurance and limited platforms to connect for information, insurance penetration in India continues to be slow and staggered, especially among the rural population. But a key takeaway from the report is the opportunity to reach to large swathes of the country that remain uninsured. To drive more efforts, it is imperative that we leverage the power of digital to tap new avenues of connecting with the customer.

An opportune tech ecosystem has been created in India with the government driving the mandate of ‘Digital India’. A big contributor to the initiative is the spurt in usage of smartphones in rural India, which is set to have more internet users by 2025 than urban India. The convenience and accessibility of the smartphone indicate that in absence of brick-and-mortar banks or insurance branches, the mobile phone could be the dominant medium to tap into this segment. 

But the question remains, how do you start a conversation with an audience that is remotely located? How do you build connections for your product? Adopting the three megatrends of voice, video and vernacular, have today become the key methods of taking technology and reaching the remote customer in India. 

Strong preference for local language 

Preference for regional content among users has drastically increased. Google’s ‘Year in Search 2020: India for determined progress’ report stated that 90% of internet users prefer to choose their local language to carry out tasks online.

A majority of consumers in the rural-dominated Bharat have indicated strong preference for communication in their native language. Keeping up with the trend, it is important that websites, apps should be developed in regional languages ensuring localisation to enhance rural penetration.

Creating a video interface

Traditionally, bancassurance or strong agency networks have driven in-person interactions between prospects and life insurers in rural areas. While these have proven to be highly effective, currently face-to-face interactions pose a risk. Video marketing has thrived in the pandemic and insurers must ride this wave to offer new-age solutions and options to the users. By integrating the human interaction through the video interface, life insurers will also build trust with the consumer and subsequently increase life insurance uptake.

Enabling voice assistance for better engagement 

With voice search queries in India growing at 270% per year, voice technology is the future of the insurance sector. The integration of Indian languages will enhance the user experience where insurance brands can customise services through adapting, detecting unique voices, and developing features that provide relevant information to consumers such as policy reminders, health updates etc. Leveraging voice technology will result in a more holistic and effective communication.

While the country is working towards financial inclusion, it is time for life insurance industry to seamlessly blend with the burgeoning tech ecosystem to educate Indian consumers about the need for life insurance as well as ease the lifecycle of insurance purchase and servicing. Leveraging the three megatrends will not only lead to financially protecting India, but also assist in making it economically stronger. 


An industry veteran in the financial services sector for nearly three decades, V. Viswanand is deputy managing director at Max Life Insurance and a member of the board.

Under his belt, he is responsible for distribution, including proprietary channels, bancassurance and third-party business, institutional sales, business development and distribution operations.

He steers the strategic direction and growth of the company and leads the Max Skill First training partnership as well as the procurement and facilities functions.

He played an instrumental role in not only propelling the company to emerge as the industry leader in customer retention, claims paid ratio and customer loyalty but also had led the company’s wins in several global and national accolades in quality and technology, including the coveted gold medal at ASQ, USA and RBNQA.

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