Guardian Life Insurance Limited (GLIL) has been making breakthroughs in the insurance sector and beyond. They have brought intelligence, innovation and investment in an industry that was riddled with decades of lingering problems.
Insurance is one of the most integral parts of the modern economy. It protects financial aspects of an unexpected death, injury, loss of property, loss of earning power, legal liability or other unexpected expenses. However, the contribution of the sector to an economy is often understated. Insurance sector contributes significantly to the aggregate economic growth of a nation by providing stability to the functioning of businesses and generating long-term financial resources. It also provides financial support and reduces uncertainties that individuals and companies face at every step of their life cycles. It provides an ideal risk mitigation mechanism against events that can potentially cause financial distress to a family or establishment.
Over the past decade, Bangladesh has experienced significant growth in various sectors. It is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with an average growth rate that is well above the Asian average. Conversely, the growth of the insurance sector has not been at par with the economic boom. The insurance penetration rate in the country hasn't reached the expected level compared to other developing countries. According to Swiss Re data, a leading global reinsurer, Bangladesh's overall insurance penetration stood at a meagre 0.57% in 2018, the lowest in the emerging Asian communities.
In recent years, there has been a lot of positive buzz around the insurance sector. An increasing number of individuals and entities are leaning towards insurance as a means of safeguarding themselves against potential risks. Through the reinforcement of trust and transparency, there is a sense of positivity around the sector which has initiated its reformation. The positive momentum prevailing across the industry has been possible through the joint effort of regulators, associations and some of the vigilant private sector players who are working as the harbingers of the brighter days. Guardian Life Insurance Limited is one of the names that comes at the forefront. It is the fastest-growing life insurance company and is setting benchmarks for the industry. With more than ten million lives insured, GLIL is penetrating the market at a rate that was unimaginable a decade ago.
A Group Life Insurance policy is essentially a health/medical insurance plan that covers all the members of a particular group, in this case, employees of an organization. In a Group insurance policy, members get insurance coverage at a reduced cost as the provider's risk is spread across a significant number of employees. As our economy advances, Group Insurance is becoming a necessity for many companies. It is a major compliance issue for major MNC's and the local companies, it allows a competitive advantage in the provision for employee benefits at low cost. With more than 350,000+ lives covered under health and life coverage, the secret to GLIL's success in group business lies in the core values of the company which are: Customer Service, Relationship Management, Innovation, Networking and Quick Claim Settlement.
GLIL has set a new benchmark in the industry for relationship management with corporate clients. It has set them apart from their peers and helped them to reach new heights within a short period of time. In just a few years, Guardian has amassed 225+ corporate clients. GLIL's approach to clients is uniquely impressive. Rather than just selling a product; they play the role of a consultant. After evaluating the client's expectations, GLIL's representatives advise the best line of products suitable according to the client's needs.
Additionally, when a client is on-boarded, Guardian keeps constant communication with the client to ensure enhanced services. They have created a separate Group Client Service function in order to ensure a strong commitment throughout the lifespan of the relationship. They allow the clients to flexibily select the plan that has the aggregate benefit of the company.
MICROINSURANCE: GUARDIAN-BRAC BIMA (GBB)
GLIL aspires to work diligently towards financial inclusion and touch the lives of the underprivileged population with the spark of life insurance as it has a starkest implication on the lives of this economic group. In line with the idea, GLIL has tried to work out on innovative models of microinsurance that can prove to be sustainable. GLIL made a breakthrough with Guardian-BRAC Bima (GBB), under which more than 10 million recipients of BRAC Microfinance came under the scope of GLIL's credit shield micro-insurance program (including spouse). BRAC is the largest NGO in the world, with 83% of its clients (microfinance) being women. After going through some pilot phases, Guardian-BRAC Bima (GBB) was fully launched in 2017. The entire scheme was developed in partnership with BRAC to ensure it meets the needs of the community. It was enhanced so that the spouse of the borrower could also be covered, as in most cases; the spouse of the borrower inherits financial responsibility of the family and repayment of the debt incurred.
This entire venture has resulted in 40,843 claims being settled with 1.69 billion BDT (19.8 million USD) paid out to date. However, the numbers alone cannot justify the magnitude of GLILs' achievements. They are protecting millions of poor families and their livelihoods across Bangladesh in the event of the death of a household member or the earner. Microinsurance is an important safety net against various risks for the poorest and most vulnerable people of Bangladesh. Guardian-BRAC Bima (GBB) is playing a significant role in keeping millions of Bangladeshis above the poverty line and helping them to flourish despite the loss of a crucial family member.
Bancassurance is essentially a distribution channel for insurance companies, they make use of the vast network of the banks to sell insurance products. A distribution channel is one of the key elements that help facilitate insurance companies in growing and penetrating the market, functioning as arteries of marketing systems delivering services to customers. When insurance companies collaborate with banks they enter a guardianship of two regulatory bodies governing the process. This maximizes reach and security of the service propositions.
Through Bancassurance, Guardian Life Insurance is partnering up with the banks willing to re-discover the insurance industry as a vital source of their Non-Funded Income (NFI) Revenue. Its team of experts is ready to analyze the needs of its partners to create an innovative, cost-effective solution designed to enhance the VAS for its (partner) customers. In a short period, GLIL's bancassurance program has accumulated an outstanding portfolio. It has partnered up with some of the leading banking and non-banking financial institutions of the country including BRAC Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, IDLC and LBFL while providing protection to lives of about 1.5 lakh (Approx.) people.
Since its inception, the idea of Digital Bangladesh has transformed the average life of every person in the country. With the proliferation of the internet and digital services, technology is also transforming the financial sector ensuring better access and transparency. Guardian Life Insurance Limited is leading the insurance industry in Bangladesh towards digitalization. GLIL has done an incredible job in creating a user-friendly and intuitive app which is compatible with the average financial literacy of Bangladesh.
EasyLife is primarily a Digital Sales Channel activated via app and web. It is intended to make insurance more accessible to consumers. A significant number of people in our country are now connected through the internet; Easy Life allows them to purchase insurance policies through both app and web. One can conduct all the activities entirely online for buying an insurance policy and also pay the premium for being under coverage instantly. The very distinctive propositions of EasyLife are accessibility and availability. Its services are available on-demand regardless of the time. Without any intermediaries, one can buy life insurance instantly without the hassle of medical tests and filling-up a form. It paves the way for illegal and unethical practices. Through EasyLife, the entire process has become transparent. Clients now have all the detailed information about every service available; it allows them to assess and determine the plan most suitable for them. EasyLife aims to educate the market about the aggregate benefits of insurance and ultimately encourage them to buy insurance.
In its latest effort in making life insurance more accessible, Guardian Life has implemented e-KYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) solution within its EasyLife. It is the first e-KYC integration of the whole insurance industry in Bangladesh allowing customers to buy life insurance in just 5 minutes! Guardian Life has introduced this major initiative to have a better and secure customer onboarding process through app/web. Customers are being able to complete life insurance buying journeys through e-KYC by just taking pictures of NID (both sides) and nominee NID (both sides) along with face verification (cross-matching and verifying information with Election Commission database) process. The e-KYC solution has made the entire customer experience more transparent and convenient.
CLAIM SETTLEMENT AND NETWORKING
Parallel to the Corporate Relationship Management department, the Claims Department works diligently to ensure that every case is handled smoothly and transparently. GLIL settles claims within seven working days after all the documents have been submitted. GLIL does not only ensure that valid claims are paid but it also guarantees that all claims are processed promptly. GLIL has already paid over BDT 400+ crores in claims over the years. Another unique selling proposition for Guardian Life is its wide span of the hospital network. GLIL's hospital network is more extensive than any of the peers in the market. Currently, there are 345+ hospitals under the GLIL network.
INNOVATION IN PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT & CLAIM SETTLEMENT
In order to keep up with the ever-changing and dynamic business landscapes, every company must embrace innovation. GLIL has set a new benchmark in the industry by innovating to make every step of the process easier and more transparent. With product innovation complementing the overall value chain, they have also developed software which calculates estimated premiums on the spot. A similar estimation used to take a lot of time but now can be done even in a few seconds. Innovation has truly put GLIL at the forefront of the insurance boom.
OCS (ONLINE CLAIM SUBMISSION SYSTEM)
"Customer First" has always been a strong resolution for Guardian Life and a commitment to pay claims is one of the core values of them. Hence, Guardian Life Insurance Limited (GLIL) has been one of the most diligent companies throughout the pandemic in ensuring exceptional client service. As the pandemic situation continues, they are innovating ways to provide uninterrupted client services. Even under this lockdown and social distancing situation, Guardian life has kept its commitment to the customers by introducing the "Online Claim Submission (OCS)" platform to submit claims digitally. It allows the corporate customers to submit Life and Medical claims (Hospitalization / Outdoor Patient / Death) via mobile, laptop or desktop anytime, anywhere. The claims are then evaluated by the team from the system and are paid out from the system via online payment channels.
The writer is CEO (Current Charge) of Guardian Life Insurance Limited