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‘Life insurance is a very big savings and investment instrument today’

An alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Management and Engineering Technical Campus (AIMETC), who is in a leadership position in a life insurance company, talks about the emerging trends in the sector

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Life insurance is among the rapidly growing industries in India now, says Pawan Chopra, Regional Vice President, Kotak Life Insurance. Prior to this, he worked in several leading companies in the sector including Bharti AXA Life Insurance, Exide, Life Insurance, and TATA AIA Life Insurance, among others. The Apeejay alumnus is hopeful of seeing life insurance penetrate further among people and live up to its full potential in the coming years. Read to know more:

Can you briefly take us through your professional journey?

It’s been 21 long years since I got a campus placement in a timeshare company named Sterling Holiday Resorts. The corporate journey that started in June 2001 has a larger chunk in Life Insurance Sales & Management. I have been fortunate to work with the top players in my industry and have learned a lot from my corporate Gurus. I have been instrumental in signing up new business relationships for the organisations. I have built strong teams across the length and breadth of North India and have bagged more than 100 awards and accolades so far and still counting. I have successfully turned around many markets and regions that were doing poorly in business/P&L and have made them profitable in the due course. The only success mantra for me has been hard work and dedication toward the end objectives. You have to lead by example to be successful in leading big teams.

Pawan Chopra

Why is life insurance important?

It’s a very important question. Life insurance helps us in planning the financial security and well-being of our family members during the important events of their lifetime. At the same time, it also ensures that those events go as per plan even in case of any uncertainty in the family due to sudden demise or disability of the bread earner of the family, who is responsible for executing all those events for the family flawlessly. 

Also Read: The insurance markets in the UAE and India have distinct features, says this Apeejay Panchsheel Park alumna

People generally take life insurance casually, but it is as important as or rather more important than any other investment planning that they do for their family. 

Can you share some tips to choose the right insurance plan?

Life insurance these days is more of a customised solution for everyone. Choosing the right insurance plan solely depends upon your age, your life stage, and your financial responsibility towards your dependents. 

Insurance buying decisions can be put into four major categories – Living too long, Dying too soon, Opportunities & Emergencies, and Debt Payment.

Generally, people misconstrue life insurance buying with death benefit only. Just to appraise everyone, in any given year close to 88 – 90 per cent of the claims given are maturity claims or survival benefit claims and the balance 10 – 12 per cent are death claims. Even during the pandemic, 89 per cent of the total claims made were non-death claims. So, life insurance is a very big savings and investment instrument today.

How did the pandemic affect your sector? Did people surrender their insurance policies?

The pandemic has brought about a massive shift towards life insurance buying. People have realised the value of life and thus life insurance. There is over 30 per cent growth in business year on year. This is in fact one of the fastest growing industries today.

People haven’t surrendered their policies during the pandemic. Rather, the policies that were in lapsed status have been revived. People paid their renewals in advance just to ensure that the policy is in force all the time.

How are life insurance trends evolving in India?

Life insurance has always been a push business where people are made to understand the Human Life Value (HLV) concept and their protection gap is identified and bridged. Today, even after 22 years of the privatisation of the life insurance industry, its penetration is just 6 per cent and we have a big room to cover. 

While the core impact area of the life insurance industry is pure risk coverage through term insurance, in today’s progressive times, life insurance is evolving as a very competitive investment tool with EEE Tax benefits and in some cases giving better-guaranteed returns than our banks. The governing body, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), has brought about some historical changes in the processes and approved some exclusive products in recent years to give the best possible benefits to the customers. There are many more revolutionary changes expected in the near future that will bring about a big change in the way this business is being done. All I have to say is that, with the customers getting more and more aware of their life insurance needs and with the kind of tailor-made best-in-class solutions being offered, this industry has a great future in times to come.

What memories do you have of college? How did it shape you for the future?

I fondly remember my college days, all my classmates, teachers, and the good times spent with them. It was a different world altogether. Thanks to social media, most of us are still in touch, wherever we are. We learned things the hard way, unlike the present times of ready access to everything over a tap on the smartphone. We have seen those OHP times in contrast with the smart classrooms today. 

The institute inculcated team bonding & team spirit since we used to participate in various inter-college and inter-university competitions. I did not miss any of these opportunities and proudly bagged three inter-university trophies for Apeejay. The curriculum was so aptly designed that it helped me in taking the bigger challenges of corporate life head-on. The presentation skills taught during my MBA days helped me in dealing with the board room meetings and it gave me the desired confidence to put my viewpoint forward effectively. Though the Marketing Guru Kotler doesn’t portray real-life sales and marketing completely it strengthens your roots and helps in taking the management decisions more judiciously. Overall, being at Apeejay has been a powerful and enriching experience for me personally. 

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Senior Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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