Fighting fire

Chennai: His job is to sell fire insurance policies to southern corporates. And he has excelled in it. He is K Bharathan, regional head (south), ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

Fire insurance is the most profitable and bulk-premium income business for a general insurer. Not just that. Once you strike the fire insurance premium (burglary insurance is included in that package deal), it's just a matter of time for a corporate to place its other insurance business like transit, group mediclaim and group personal with that insurer.

After driving on the wrong lane by indulging in motor insurance, ICICI Lombard, a 74:26 joint venture between ICICI Bank and Lombard General Insurance, Canada, has been steered to the profitability path with a clear focus on corporate fire insurance business.

As a matter of fact, it was the company's southern region that test-fired this concept after studying its manpower and other issues that would crop up if the company goes for multiple business lines. The success of this approach has made ICICI Lombard replicate this strategy nationwide, leaving the competition scaled.

“That doesn't mean we shun motor insurance business. We insure vehicles owned by our clients,“ Bharathan, 52, says. According to him 85 per cent of the company's premium in the south will come from fire insurance and the balance from transit, group mediclaim, personal accident, overseas travellers insurance among others.

At his age, when others would think twice before switching jobs, Bharathan, a chartered accountant by qualification, didn't think too much when he came on deputation to the insurance company in June 2002 from ICICI Bank.