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"Insurance safeguards against elements of chance", Ruchi Deepak, ACKO insurance

“Insurance sector has seen many initiatives in the last few years especially in the increase in awareness, the introduction of technology and changes in regulations.”

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In this interview, Ruchi Deepak, co-founder ACKO general insurance, talks about the challenges, opportunities, and role of startups in the insurance sector

What role are startups playing in the insurance industry?  

Insurance firms charge premiums to secure customers against a particular eventuality, and they're expected to deliver on the obligations set out in their policies. In essence, insurance safeguards against elements of chance that can affect individuals and organizations in a detrimental way. Since the pandemic has begun all insurance players start-ups, as well as traditional, are foraying into digital, we believe at ACKO we were way ahead of time and thanks to our promising business model ACKO started operations in 2017 by stepping into digital insurance and eliminating the distribution network for insurance products. ACKO is a one-stop solution direct to customer platform for customers' benefit where they can easily buy insurance products. We are a licensed insurance provider so customers can buy insurance from us directly without worrying about authenticity. 

What are the challenges in online insurance delivery? 

A major challenge faced by an online insurance provider is to build trust among users, it is really difficult to build trust amongst users to buy online insurance. Another challenge is to use data to improve experiences, we work hard on analyzing data to better underwrite the customers. In order to provide the right premium to our customers, we need to study the data extensively, ACKO’s exceptional product and service have won the trust of over 68Mn unique customers who have opted to get insured. ACKO has successfully issued over 1 Bn insurance policy to date. 

What is your prediction for this sector in the upcoming 5 years? 

The insurance sector has seen many initiatives in the last few years especially in the increase in awareness, the introduction of technology, and changes in regulations. The potential of the health business has grown after the pandemic, and it is going to see multifold growth. Further, the introduction of technology applications in different use cases (fulfillment, servicing, etc) has made it easy for the companies to serve their users with better quality of delivery. ACKO has led the path with unlocking micro-insurance products for new age e-com ecosystems like Urban Company, Ola, Zomato etc. This is going to grow further in the next 5 years. The regulation is also making space for new innovations like the introduction of pay-as-you-use products and health product benefits based on the user profile. 

How do you stand out from other players in the market? 

ACKO has made the entire insurance process seamless from purchase and claims, with quotes and all the relevant information pertaining to motor insurance available on the website, and after the purchase is made, the policy is directly sent into the buyer’s inbox in less than two minutes. Furthermore, ACKO distinguishes itself by offering services such as hassle-free claims requiring zero paperwork, one-hour pick-up, 3-day assured claim servicing and one-year repair warranty in select cities, as well as an option for instant cash settlements for low-value claims, maximizing the benefits for the customers. 

ACKO is also designing contextual microinsurance solutions for products and services that are regularly consumed, for e.g. insurance against accidents during cab rides, screen protection for mobile devices in partnership with 35+ leading players in the internet ecosystem such as Ola, Oyo, Goibibo, Redbus, Urban Company, and Zomato among others. By bundling insurance with products and services and making it available at the time of purchase, we are making it convenient for customers to secure themselves against any risks that may tag along with that service. 

How is ACKO preparing for the third wave? 

We have conducted vaccination drives for all our employees and partners in different locations - Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai. ACKO has introduced a COVID-19 support system that aims to provide all essential medical and non-medical support to its employees and thus make it easier for them to prioritize their own needs and the needs of their families above all else. 

ACKO has created a COVID war-room driven by the leadership team which includes the Co-founder, CFO, and HR. The COVID war-room is available 24X7 and eases the process for any employee who is in need of medical or financial assistance, for themselves or their families. Any requirement that comes to the COVID war-room is being picked up immediately and processed by the respective volunteer group to ensure that help is extended asap. 

ACKO volunteers are developing and continuously updating a repository for beds, oxygen, home ICU steps, and medicines. In addition to this, ACKO is providing medical facilities such as, teleconsultations, sample collection, 24*7 ambulance services, among others to ease the financial stress related to COVID, ACKO is providing its employees access to immediate credit and also offering salary advance on a need basis. 

To alleviate pandemic-induced mental fatigue, ACKO has partnered with mental health apps that offer employees and their dependents live meditation and yoga sessions at their convenience. They can also sign up for therapy sessions and receive mental wellness support from experts. To boost employee morale and create a sense of community, ACKO is also organizing internal contests, quizzes, and virtual shows. We continue to do these activities to prepare ourselves for the 3rd wave. 

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Acko General Insurance online technology regulations