Thinking insurance and beyond for the rural community

By Pradeep Pandey

Creating a self-sufficient and sustainable society, especially in a developing economy like ours, is a key responsibility which vests on every citizen’s shoulders. The active participation of citizens can lead India to becoming a more balanced urban-rural model economy. Over 60% of the population in India lives in rural areas and the most important things in their priority list are a house of their own, ensuring their children’s marriage and safeguarding their land. What is least on anyone’s priority is protecting their own life and securing their family in case of any eventuality.

Importance of educating the rural population

As a financial services provider, it is our responsibility to ensure that they get adequate access to financial products and services. As a first step towards that, we need to create awareness about the importance of being financially self-sufficient and secure themselves and their families.

Life insurance is based on trust. Once that is established, its benefits can be better explained to them. While insurance penetration in the rural sector is low, it also gives us tremendous opportunities to reach out to this vulnerable population. We need to have product customisation, viable and cost-effective distribution channels, and an extensive rural agent network, thereby building consumer awareness and confidence.

Safety of their funds

To explain the need for life insurance, we need to first gain their trust – trust in the agent who is interacting, trust in the company that he is representing and trust in the product that is being presented to him; since with limited funds available, safety of these invested funds is of paramount importance for them.

Need based insurance

The surest path to success is to identify and measure the requirements of the people correctly and offer a product that they would be able to afford. We need to help them understand the importance of insurance as an instrument to save money that will support them in times of need.

Creating a platform

The village community is a mixed population including traders, farmers, drivers, marginal labourers and opinion leaders or influencers including the sarpanch and school teachers. We need to initiate ‘community choupals’, which is a platform to extend knowledge services to the community and help them understand the importance of protection and savings for themselves and their family members. This is a small step towards reaching out to the low income, rural, masses enabling them to become financially secure.

Agents of Change

The role of the community choupal will not only be restricted to insurance awareness or guiding them on how to invest in financial products, but will also focus on the importance of investing in education, especially among youth, leading to employment and a more sustainable means of income. It is the young generation who can bring about a transformational change not only in their life but also the people around them.

Beyond insurance

We can play a larger role in engaging and working with the community on a sustainable basis that extends beyond offering financial products and services. We have the opportunity of leveraging our branch networks and strong presence especially in urban areas to act as epicenters of social change.

With the help of experts and professional organisations, each branch location can be a launching pad for pilot solutions to common civic problems. Issues ranging from environmental cleanliness, waste management, alternate energy usage, preventive healthcare, and even poverty issues of those around our communities.

There is an opportunity for companies to contribute towards sustainable development and nation building that will help India become economically, socially, environmentally and politically developed in the years to come.

Pradeep Pandey, Chief Marketing Officer at Future Generali India Life InsuranceAbout the Author: Pradeep Pandey, Chief Marketing Officer, Future Generali India Life Insurance. Pradeep brings with him more than 16 years of extensive experience in the Life Insurance industry. He has worked in areas of e-Commerce, Branding, Distribution, Marketing, Product, New Business modeling and Innovation in the areas of customer experience and engagement. Prior to joining Future Generali India Life, Pradeep was heading Global Innovation at Aegon N.V., Netherlands and oversaw innovation initiatives across US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Before moving to the Aegon Global Headquarters, he was with Aegon Religare as Director of Branding & Communication, spearheading some of the most popular campaigns for the company and was involved in developing India’s first online sales portal for life insurance. He was also associated with Reliance Life, SBI Life, Leo Burnett, Kinetic Engineering and LML in the past.

As the Chief Marketing Officer for Future Generali India Life, Pradeep leads the Product, Brand & Corporate Communication areas as also the Online Channel initiatives.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.