SLIC set to grow with multi-product, multi-channel, bringing sense of protection to millions of Sri Lankans | Daily News

SLIC set to grow with multi-product, multi-channel, bringing sense of protection to millions of Sri Lankans

Despite the heavy toll of COVID-19 health crisis on Sri Lanka’s economy, state-owned insurer and the pioneer of the insurance industry, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) is finding opportunities in a crisis-hit market.

In an exclusive interview with Daily News Business, Eng. Vijitha Herath, Chairman of Sri Lanka Insurance says the SLIC is set to grow with multi-product, multi-channel, bringing a sense of protection to millions of Sri Lankans with its service enhancement. Herath spoke of how SLIC is using digital capabilities to embrace changes and respond to challenges and to provide uninterrupted insurance service to customers, the industry outlook, and challenges.

Excerpts:

Q: How did SLIC fare during the year 2021?

A: Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC), the leading player in Sri Lanka’s insurance industry closed 2021 on a high note posting a record GWP of Rs. 43 billion on all classes of business in the teeth of current challenges.

The year saw 14% growth in life insurance premia, up to Rs.21.9 billion, while general insurance reported 5.4% growth in premium value totaling to Rs. 21.2 billion despite stagnant market conditions.

The company achieved a combined Gross Written Premium (GWP) growth rate of 9.7% during the year. Life insurance contributed 51% to total GWP and General Insurance 49%. Marking 60 years of excellence as the insurer of the nation, SLIC recorded many Remarkable achievements during the year 2021 including (yet again) the highest Life Insurance bonus in the industry of Rs. 8.6 billion.

The insurer was able to produce 189 MDRT (Million Dollar Round Table) members with five COT (Court of Table) and one TOT (Top of Table) member at the MDRT conference 2021 marking a historic milestone as the highest ever representation from Sri Lanka Insurance. The SLIC was awarded The Most Loved Insurance Brand of the year and the Most Valuable General Insurance Brand of the year proving its prowess to win these awards for the 4th consecutive year. Also, SLIC Life recorded the highest brand value growth among Life Insurance brands in Sri Lanka. SLIC was also recognized as a ‘Great Place to Work” in Sri Lanka reiterating the insurer’s commitment towards building an empowering working culture.

Q: How do you see the behavior between the general and life insurance sector during this time?

A: Both life and general insurance sectors responded quickly for the changes and introduced digital capabilities to provide uninterrupted insurance service to customers. Despite the fact that consumer spending was limited due to the low disposable income owing to COVID -19; increased demand for life and general insurance policies – Life, mortgage protection and health was witnessed. The growing health concern has helped increase awareness on medical insurance due to COVID hospitalizations.

In fact people seeking digitalized insurance solutions have increased in a big way. In order to create a balance between the human and technology to offer insurance services, we at SLIC accelerated digital transformation including enhancing access points for customers to enhance customer experience thereby increasing consciousness about life and health insurance needs.

Q: And what factors have contributed to the overall performance of your organization?

A: In the Sri Lankan insurance sector, SLIC accounts for the largest asset base of Rs 235 billion and the highest and the life Fund of Rs 134 billion. SLIC yet again declared the highest Life Insurance bonus in the industry of Rs. 8.6 billion.

Sri Lankan Insurance is the only insurance company in Sri Lanka to be awarded AA (lka) Fitch Rating and to receive ISO 9001: 2015 quality standard.

Furthermore, the SLIC has come up with New product developments such as Motor Plus Ladies Only for women drivers, Motor Plus Tuk for three-wheelers, Motor Plus Rider for Bicycles, Motor Plus Commercial for commercial purpose vehicles, Naagaraja – Exclusive for Buddhist Clergy and their family members and Medi 60 – Senior Citizen Health Insurance to cater to unique customer segments in the market. Moreover, SLIC revamped products namely Speed Investment, SLIC Early Cash, Minimuthu Education Plans, and SLIC Business Club to fit into market requirements. To streamline processes, SLIC also introduced work flow management systems to drive paperless operations in the company and increase the efficiency of the operational processes. SLIC has also extended many digital access points for customers for insurance premium payments and we have streamlined many processes including the claim payment process with Motor E Doc system and Bee Express allowing fast-track claim settlement. Our strategic partnerships with key organizations such as Sri Lanka Medical Council, Sri Lanka Medical Association and Postgraduate Institute of Management allow us to extend protection to cover different market segments and deliver value to stakeholders.

Q: What will be long term implications of the Covid -19 pandemic as far as Sri Lankan insurance operations are concerned? And what are your expectations for the insurance sector in the post-covid era?

A: Demand for more affordable, transparent and customized insurance solutions have increased over the years. The pandemic has forced industry to maintain workforce transformation of the promise of a human-centered, tech-enabled enterprise.

Speaking of our sustainability focus, SLIC is taking actions in favour of environmental, social and governance issues and opportunities. And also we do believe in attracting and retaining talent in an evolving hybrid work environment while finding ways to balance technology adoption with maintaining the human touch.

Q: How do you think this health crisis is forcing local insurance companies to massively increase the pace and step up in terms of embracing digital and more flexible ways of working?

A: The pandemic situation has become a force to expedite the digital transformation of insurance companies. Customers are prioritizing health and safety. Hence they prefer technology driven insurance solutions.

Consumer dynamics are changing overnight and insurers had to embrace them at a staggering speed. Product development and delivery is stepping out from the traditional model and evolving into more technology based and contactless form. Insurers who were quick and swiftly moved will flourish customers with quick delivery, 24 hour access, clear and relevant information. Consequently SLIC came up with innovative insurance solutions to cater to these specific needs and growth prospects.

Q: Despite these technological advancements, people still prefer a human touch when making a lifetime decision such as insurance?

A: Insurance used to be a more human oriented business as the entire process depends on the trust between the insurer, customer and sales advisor and this relationship could last for almost 20 -25 years. As obtaining insurance is a lifetime decision, insurers must ensure that we deliver a sense of protection for customers. Therefore we have to have a right balance between the human and technology. Hence we arm our sales force with necessary knowledge and expertise on digital technologies to provide the same convenience for customers

Q: How does SLIC ensure a right balance between human and technology to provide a seamless insurance experience?

A: We arm our sales force with necessary knowledge and expertise on digital technologies to provide the same convenience for customers .We empower our sales force to be tech savvy and embrace challenges brought by technology to deliver ultimate value to customers. We keep our platforms open to customize their insurance solutions.

Q: What is your assessment of the insurance industry, challenges and opportunities and what more suggestions do you have for the betterment of the industry?

A: Insurance was not on the top of the priority list as Sri Lankans have a high dependency to rely on their relations and friends when it comes to an emergency or calamity. Therefore the insurance penetration is low in the country .There is a protection gap to be bridged by the insurance sector. Nonetheless, we can see a positive growth in insurance with more people being conscious about their health and protection. Consumer habits are changing, purchasing patterns are changing People are moving to more digital based solutions .The market is growing and there is huge potential in the insurance market yet the penetration is still low – 1.39 as at 2020 as a percentage of GDP.

Q: What sort of investment plan does your organization have in mind in Sri Lanka?

A: Plans are underway to expand our reach into different geographies in the country with the expansion of our branch network while introducing new insurance solutions to cover all affinity groups in Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, plans are afoot to expedite the digital integration of services and processes, enhance the user experience for customers, establish sustainable business processes, thereby giving back to the community to serve them better.

Pictures by Ruwan de Silva


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