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Hope to grow to pre-Covid level by December: M R Kumar, Chairman, LIC


(This story originally appeared in on Aug 31, 2020)

LIC’s headquarters at Yogakshema in Mumbai has been the nerve centre of the insurance giant’s operations. Chairman M R Kumar speaks of how the corporate broke barriers overnight and razed rigid structures to not only cope but grow during the pandemic…

What challenges does the new normal due to the pandemic pose to your organisation?

It calls for a new work environment. Life insurance in India is still driven by individual agents.To overcome fear and maintain social distancing,there was a need to complete sales with minimum physical interaction and without paper. You need a strong digital infrastructure, flexible workforce, and strategies that pivot to changing situations. We are enabling email applications for maturity and surrender claims.For death claims, emails from club agents and development officers are accepted. We settled 339 Covid claims under 776 policies for over Rs 24 crore.

How do you get new business amid a pandemic?

Our marketing initiatives helped us grow individual first-year premium by 2.8% end July compared to -11.5% for private insurers. We hope to grow to pre-Covid level by Q3 end and close the fiscal with strong growth.

What people-related challenges have arisen?

Making people work with ease without compromising their safety was the biggest challenge. We used IT initiatives to break barriers overnight, enabling remote access for salary, pension, claim payments, and account closing even during strict lockdown. We moved from a top-down decision-making structure to empowering teams at zonal and divisional levels.

How are you managing a work-life balance?

Exercise, pranayam, better eating habits — an immunity boosting lifestyle — has been adopted. People realise the importance of life, health, family and work balance, which ultimately increases productivity.

What is the key learning from this crisis?

The pandemic has thrown light on the importance of life and health insurance. With people across age groups being affected by Covid, life insurance may become an essential part of the new reality of our economy. We will meet every requirement and expectation of our customers and are committed to the growth of our industry. We are confident of increasing our lead by the end of the fiscal.


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