Insured for the future

"Before liberalisation, the industry had a laid-back culture," says Bajaj Allianz General Insurance CEO Kamesh Goyal. Goyal should know; he was earlier with the public sector New India Assurance.

With only a few companies, there was no price competition. Distribution channels were few, and hardly any technology had been deployed. "Most of all," he says, "the industry witnessed no employee attrition at all."

But just five years of competition have turned the insurance industry upside down. Several new private sector competitors are in the fray, and employees and clients move from one insurer to another, keeping companies on edge. "With its all-India presence, Bajaj Allianz General has become a fertile ground for poaching," he says resignedly.

Goyal feels the growth in the industry has come from the motor, health and liability insurance segments. "All other segments have seen premium pressures and could not grow," he says.

Among private non-life insurers, Bajaj Allianz General is the most transparent. It not only publishes its full annual report on its website, but also puts out a white paper on claims settlement. "We would like an independent agency to develop benchmarks and parameters on the basis of which a customer can take an informed decision," says Goyal in a candid interview where he does not duck or skirt any questions.

Excerpts from an interview: