HDFC Chubb General Insurance CEO Shrirang V Samant pins his hopes on speciality products and risk management solutions|
Chennai: He is a true insurance professional in every sense - be it qualification, experience or outlook. Shrirang V Samant, chief executive officer, HDFC Chubb General Insurance, is not only a fellow member of the Insurance Institute of India but also similar institutes based in the UK and the US.
Samant, who holds an MBA from Jamanlal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies apart from possessing LLB and BA honours degrees, has 20 years' rich experience in the industry - he was earlier with New India Assurance Company, serving both in India and abroad.
At a time when many of his contemporaries are vary about the freedom to fix premium rates - in general insurance nearly 65 per cent of the premium rates are fixed by the Tariff Advisory Committee - Samant is unperturbed and is in fact all for it. ''Actually tariff has restricted product innovation and design. Fire insurance tariff will go in due course of time, and the same will happen to other business too,'' he says.
HDFC Chubb (a 74:26 joint venture between HDFC and Chubb Global Financial Services Corporation, a subsidiary of Chubb Corporation, USA) may be a late entrant into the domestic general insurance industry, but Samant is planning a cautious and steady growth plan for the company. ''HDFC Chubb is finding its niche in speciality insurance like directors' and officers' liability insurance [D&O].''
Standard & Poor's (S&P) says D&O liability business has become troublesome for US insurers on three fronts. First, insurers are licking their wounds of corporate America's chastisement since Enron's scandal-ridden demise. Second, they have been broadsided by a greatly heightened litigation environment. And third, they are reaping the consequences of underpricing in the late nineties
That aside, HDFC Chubb intends to do business with car dealers, a segment eschewed by other private insurers. As of today Chubb has clocked a premium income of Rs 7 crore. In a brief conversation with domain-b.com he talks about his company's growth strategy. Excerpts:
You have started this business of selling standard car insurance policy. What is your marketing strategy?
The strategy is to leverage the HDFC brand equity. Motor insurance is our entry point. It is a statutory product and easy to do, more so if you tap it at the source - the car dealer's end. We have an arrangement with Hyundai Motor dealers. Similarly, we will launch simple products like a group personal accident insurance policy, overseas travel insurance for corporates and house insurance and tap them at source.
All the non-life insurers are targeting the corporate sector now. How do you plan to go about it?
Chubb is known for speciality insurance products. We will introduce unique products like directors' and officers' liability policies, overseas travel, group personal accident insurance, and an errors and omissions insurance policy. The last one will be focussed on the IT sector.
By delaying to focus on the corporate sector wouldn't you lose out? What is your target for this fiscal?
We are realistic; we are in the learning curve. We will, in due course, tap the fire insurance and other traditional corporate business. But the initial focus will be on speciality products and risk management solutions. The target for this fiscal is Rs 100-crore premium income.
Your network spread…
As of now we have a corporate office, regional offices in Delhi and Bangalore and a small office in Hyderabad. We will soon open a branch in Chennai. Unlike many other private insurers we are issuing policies at the point of sales. While we are selling motor insurance policies via dealers we will use brokers for our group personal accident insurance policy. The focus is to minimise spend on infrastructure. We will also leverage the net.
Tell us about your reinsurance and investment programme.
A major chunk of our reinsurance business will be placed with General Insurance Corporation of India, though our current portfolio is small. We do the investments but take advice from the group company, HDFC Mutual Fund.
Every private insurer has laid down timelines for settling claims. What about you?
We have tied up with service stations for prompt and proper repairs of cars. We have a helpline and also a mobile help-centre. As to the timelines, we will settle a claim within five days of submission of requisite papers by the insured.
You were earlier with a public sector company. What is that you have to learn and unlearn at HDFC Chubb?
One good aspect about a public sector company is that you can learn every nuance of insurance business, be it marketing, underwriting or claims. There was nothing I had to unlearn here.