The value of health and term insurance policies that Policybazaar.com sold online saw a significant spike during the pandemic.
“There were two phases. In March and April, there was higher sales of policies than earlier for term insurance,” said Sarbvir Singh, CEO, Policybazaar.com. “People tended to think more about mortality and the like,” he added.
“The interest [value of business] was almost double that seen pre-COVID.”
In health insurance, it took a little longer, he said. “It started in May-June. The value of business was about 2-2.5 times what it was pre-COVID. And for our term business right now, it would be about one-and-a-half times the value sold pre-COVID.” These figures refer to quarterly premium collected after the pandemic set in, compared with a year earlier.
Asked if this was an inflection point, he said the challenge now for the sector was to deal with loss of jobs or pay cuts that people in the target profile might suffer. “We have one positive force in our business — more and more people are buying online. And, we are practically 90% of the online business.
“We deal mostly with the salaried and self- employed, who are in the ₹5-10 lakh annual salary range. If their incomes are impacted by the overall economy, that would have some degree of pressure on payments.”
‘Top-ups seeing interest’
In health insurance, the company has seen a rise in interest for top-up policies.
“Top-ups provide tremendous value at the price at which they are available,” he said. “If a ₹5 lakh policy costs you, say, ₹12,000 for a family, we said for ₹15-16,000, we should be able to give them base cover of ₹5 lakh plus ₹95 lakh super top-up. As our claims ratio was lower than the overall average, we were able to convince insurers to give our customers that kind of pricing.”
He said that customers were now inclined to take term policies lasting beyond the retirement age.
“Buyers tend to ask themselves what they get in return if they spend a lump sum yearly.
“The choice of outer age limit has been rising. We see sales of policies lasting till age 85 or 99. The average age at which policies expired was 65, say, five years ago; now people are choosing to keep life policies active till they reach age 75.”