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Open Architecture in Bancassurance


Academic year: 2021

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Open Architecture in





 Bancassurance in India – Size and Significance  Desired channel for insurers in India – why?  Open Architecture – Regulatory Backdrop  Current Regulatory Proposal

 International Perspective

 Uniqueness of Indian Banking Landscape  Banks – Perspective on Open Architecture  Key Opportunities for Banks

 Key Challenges for Banks  Way Ahead




 In FY 13-14 banks accounted for 43.6% share of Individual New Business Premium of Private Life Insurance

companies and 15.6% of total industry. *

 Share of banks in Overall New Business Premium of Private Life Insurance (including group) was 34.4% and 9.4% of total industry*

 Share of banks in Health Insurance Individual Policies premium was 6% and overall premium including group policies was 4%.*




 Share of bancassurance in GI business in premium terms has not been large but in terms of number of polices, it accounts for a very large number of polices – specially health (12.12L policies sold in 2013-14*).  Across insurance industry the share of bancassurance business varies

widely amongst private insurers, from close to 100% for some of the bank promoted life insurance companies to nil for few insurers.

 Over time, share of bancassurance in overall business of bank promoted insurance companies has come down as the insurers develop other

channels, however it continues to be a very significant for them.  With increase in number of Public Sector banks promoted insurance

companies, the penetration of insurance amongst public sector banks which account for majority share of the banking network in the country has been increasing steadily and in the coming years this will add

significantly to the overall insurance penetration in the country.



 Distribution capacity added – A single tie-up brings immense capacity to an insurer vs. the effort required to build similar capacity elsewhere.

 Manpower Productivity for Insurer – An insurer wanting to increase volume can invest with confidence.

 Quality of the distribution channel – High quality of infrastructure (physical, IT, etc.), people, stability due to transacting relationship with customers and predictability of business.

 Quality of business - Intense scrutiny of multiple regulators has ensured lowest misselling complaints vis-à-vis other distribution channels across the insurance industry. Most banks have moved up the curve in terms of driving persistency of business.



 Opening of the life insurance sector at the turn of the century led to entry of bank promoted private life insurance companies.

 This was followed by Corporate Agency Guidelines by the insurance

regulator in 2002 which led to entry of banks into insurance distribution.  Discussion on open architecture in bancassurance began as early as 2009.  IRDA came out with a Exposure Draft on Licensing of Bancassurance

Entities in 2011-12 which –

 proposed geographic bifurcation of country in 3 zones and location wise tie-up with insurance companies

 Allowed banks to tie-up with multiple insurers zone wise

 Restricted the total number of tie-ups with a single insurer in each zone

 In effect forced multiple tie-ups but different for each geography

 After wide consultation these guidelines were not taken up for enforcement.



 Thereafter at various forums there were discussions on mandating banks to act as brokers. Banks at that time needed to form a separate subsidiary to undertake broking activity.

 Proposal to make broking a mandatory route for banks to distribute

insurance would have lead to banks taking liability on their books which was not in line with the guidelines from RBI for bank’s with clear

distinction on - with and without risk participation in insurance business.  In July 2013, after consultation with various stakeholders, IRDA issued

fresh guidelines, opening up broking license for banks without forming a separate company for undertaking broking activity. However the RBI regulations also required modification to enable banks to take it up.  In November 2013, RBI came out with a Draft Guidelines on Entry of

Banks into Insurance Broking Business and

 In January 2015 RBI issued the revised guidelines on Entry of banks into Insurance business which allowed banks to take up broking without forming a subsidiary as allowed in the IRDA guidelines.



 None of the banks applied for broking license since the guidelines from RBI allowing it in Jan 2015.

 On March 31st 2015, IRDA came out with an exposure draft on

Registration of Corporate Agents Guidelines. The key points were:

 Allow corporate agents to tie-up with 3 insurers in each line

 Restricting share of business to one insurer, with gradually narrowing share to single insurer, thereby forcing multiple tie-ups

 Registration of corporate agents with IRDA directly instead of through insurance companies earlier.

 This arrangement, apart from forcing banks to have multiple tie-ups was anticipated to possibly lead to loss of valuation for several bank promoted insurance companies with large share of their business coming from

promoter bank. This could have resulted in lower realization for banks looking forward to divest stake to their foreign partner after recent hike in FDI limit in insurance sector and realization of capital to infuse it in the core banking business.



 On May 29th, after receiving representations from various stakeholders,

IRDA has come out with the 2nd Exposure Draft of the Registration of

Corporate Agents Guidelines. Key proposals are:

 Banks can tie-up with upto 3 insurers in each line of business – life, general and standalone health insurance.

 No restriction on the share of business that can be given to a single insurer.

 Banks, at the time of registering under the new guidelines have to submit a board approved policy which gives the bank’s stand on the open architecture policy and its implementation.

 This would give discretion to IRDA to question their policy, seek

suitable amendments and thereafter the policy would be binding on the bank to implement.

 Several points which were not relevant to banks have been redrafted and now apply only to corporate agents with more than 50% share of total income coming from insurance.



 Bancassurance model has been running for over 3 decades now.

 Among developed countries, bancassurance has a low share in Anglo-Saxon markets like US, UK, Australia, Netherlands, etc. vis-à-vis other European and Latin America markets.

 Has emerged as a fast growing model in many emerging Asian markets but has gone through the cycle of regulatory changes and adjustments.  Markets where bancassurance has been running successfully for a long

time, like France – follow open architecture model.

 One of the successful models includes captive insurance company of a bank which is not allowed in India.

 As complexity of products increases from mortgage cover to long term savings, regulatory environment plays a key role along with the capability of banks to train their staff.



 In context of Bancassurance Model, the uniqueness of Indian Banking landscape needs to be understood.

 The size, scale and capability of banks varies. Broadly banks in India can be divided into following Categories:

 Public Sector Banks

 Private Sector Banks

 Foreign Banks

 Co-operative Banks

 In terms of the banks ability to sell insurance products and reach a level of penetration to its customer base a bank may be at different stages of its lifecycle:

Mature – Has ability to identify customer needs and target them through

multiple channels and has well trained sales staff.

Emerging – Has been able to get the low hanging fruit like high penetration

in borrower base but does not have the required number of skilled staff or programs to address the depositor base effectively.



 The need of the bank from its insurance partner will depend on the stage of the lifecycle in which the bank is in.

 Also, the model adopted by the bank for sale of insurance products will also determine the advantages it will seek from open architecture:

 Lead generation model dependent upon presence of insurer’s staff for closure of sales would seek more manpower to -

 Creating competition in the branch to increase efficiency

 Bifurcate geographies between insurers to ride on the strength of the insurer – presence and brand acceptance

 Bank in a learning phase could look at a partner with experience which can help it align its processes and build best practices

 A bank at a mature stage could look at product and process

customization, training inputs, IT enablement, quality control on misselling, customer service etc.



 Most are opposed to forced multiple tie-ups

 But almost all welcome the flexibility of multiple tie-ups.

 Key Question is what value does it add? The answer can be different for different banks depending on status of existing insurance distribution:

 Level of maturity have they reached in terms of insurance distribution.

 Market it operates in and challenges it faces in insurance distribution –

 Brand acceptance of the insurer

 Geographical presence/support of the insurance partner

 Bank’s significance for the insurer, level of support

 Cultural alignment/fitment

 Whether the bank is the promoter of the insurance company

 Positioning of the bank – mass/mass-affluent/HNI

 Needs can be unique, some may want an additional LI partner while others may want a GI/Health product provider to fill existing gaps in product portfolio.



 Apprehensions from new regulations, additional regulatory compliance with one more regulator:

 keeping regulator informed on opening of branches

 declare branches selling insurance

 keep copies of proposal forms

 duplicate the complaint management process of the insurer in bank (related to service, product etc. which currently go to the insurer)

 duplicate the insurer’s process of renewal notification, etc.  Additional requirement of informing customer of all available

products – how to fit with the need analysis process.

 Curtailment of lead generation on phone unless customer’s request is recorded first may limit reaching out to customers.

 Certification and training of staff, earlier as per product sold by the staff, now as per status of license – stand alone/composite, higher number of hours of training will make the certification process more difficult.



 Fill gaps in product portfolio, could be significant in some GI/Health lines  Offer choice to customers in product lines where significant

differentiation between products of different insurers exists.

 Choice of product provided to the channel and consequent competition will increase the level of support, engagement, productivity.

 Even if the larger business is doing well with the current insurer, can address smaller segments through additional tie-ups

 If the existing relationship with an insurer is not taking off and switching is not an option, addition of a partner can create the spark to ignite both sides of the business.

 Address regional disparities by creating options through multiple tie-ups.  Can look forward to adopting best practices and technological

enhancements like digitization of sales process for the bancassurance business through a new partner if the existing partner is not ready



 Unlike other product lines with open architecture where the product differentiation is low – insurance products are complex and product and process training requirements are high, mostly done by the insurer.

 Ability to train and keep the bank’s team update on product features and process on 1 product provider is challenging, managing multiple product of multiple insurers is going to be complex.

 Risk of mis-selling/wrong selling in case of any gaps in knowledge would go up significantly

 Risk of customer dissonance in case of inability to answer all queries convincingly will be high

 Most successful bancassurance channels are also great partnerships between both teams of the bank and insurer.

 It takes time to create this partnership, bring cultural alignment and consequently high level of control over a business where there are 2 different sales teams involved in execution.

 Level of control bank will need to execute on sales process will go up significantly and thereby its cost.



 Additional Regulatory compliance would require more investment in manpower, training, IT systems etc. from banks, significantly increasing the expense it currently incurs for the distribution of insurance products.  Higher number of training hours for certification, more stringent

processes can significantly limit the coverage of the bank network for distributing insurance products.

 Any gaps in executing multiple tie-ups properly can affect customer

experience, relative perception and result in customer dissonance which would ultimately hurt the bank’s franchise in the long term.



 The customer till now expected a bank to provide the full bouquet of products of one insurance company, the availability of multiple brands from one banker will set off customer expectation to a higher level.  Demand creation will mostly start from the evolved customer base –

metro/urban, educated, mass affluent/HNI.

 One can expect banks operating in these markets and segments to move towards multiple tie-ups sooner or later.

 In cases where the partnerships have not been able to move forward

significantly, the banks may be interested to get into multi-insurer tie-ups. Success stories thereafter will define the direction.

 Banks already have norms prescribed by RBI for selling insurance products, IRDA has also specified additional measures like product disclosures, Staff Certification, etc. Banks will have to be watchful that control over the business quality is maintained, as any lapses can result in over-regulation which has been found to be disruptive in several markets.



Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this presentation are strictly personal observations and do not reflect the views of the employer or any organization or group the author is employed or associated with. These are based on personal interactions with industry and reports published in media. The

author does not take responsibility for any action or decision taken by any person or organization basis the contents of this presentation and any consequences of the same. With respect to regulations

quoted in the presentation, these are available publically on the website of various regulators and it is advised that the contents be checked from the source for any use, understanding, quotation. The presentation or any part thereof mush not be reproduced in any form without the express written approval of the author. Any breach of confidentiality of the contents would be liable for litigation in appropriate legal forum.


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