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Varun Dua: Making Insurance Accessible
Varun is the first one to digitise insurance while making it seamlessly accessible
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A serial entrepreneur, Varun Dua is and has progressively solved the pain points in the insurance business during the last decade - as a software service provider, as a digital broker during his tenure in Coverfox and now as a CEO of a full-fledged insurance company. After worked as the co-founder of Coverfox.com, he established ACKO General Insurance in mid-2016 with an aim to disrupt the Indian insurance industry while making it more transparent and offer hassle-free access to protection against key risks.
According to an insurance report by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), there is a strong growth in non-life insurance market and Gross Direct Premiums of non-life insurers in India which has reached Rs 1.51 trillion ($ 23.38 billion) in FY18. On which, Dua says, “Consumers don’t have a happy relationship with insurance. Mistrust, poor customer experience, unpaid claims - these intimidate regular consumers. It’s a highly regulated space and requires mammoth capital to enter and sustain.”
Varun started his career as an advertising and marketing professional and worked with leading insurance and financial service firms including Tata AIG and Franklin Templeton. “Through experience in sales, ROI-based marketing and building tech solutions for insurance companies, I’ve been able to solve problems using technology and the principles of customer experience. However, the regulator and investors have supported me to solve the prevailing issues of insurance on the largest playground which can effect change as the first individual promoted insurance company in India. The journey has been hard but it’s paid off so far. I think I’ve made concrete contributions to the industry and will be the first to connect insurance with the digital economy while making insurance accessible and seamless,” states Dua.
ACKO also offers contextual bite-sized solutions for digital consumers for e.g. screen protection for mobile phones. By embedding insurance purchase as a part of the customer journey on the internet ecosystem, the company offers products in a non-intrusive manner. For instance, Ola has an in-trip insurance programme with ACKO for cab rides. Some of its major partners include Ola, Redbus, Zomato and Amazon.
While offering innovative products relevant for customers at an economical price point, ACKO provides advanced services seamlessly across the value chain from purchase to claims. On the company’s vision, Dua says, “ACKO aims to establish a sustained relationship with the customers while offering contextual micro insurance solutions to e-commerce products that solve everyday customer pain points.”
ACKO has raised a total funding of $107 million through Narayan Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures, Accel and SAIF Partners, Amazon, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-founder- Infosys, Hemendra Kothari of DSP Blackrock, Atul Nishar – Founder & Chairman of and various other individuals.
On the challenges faced during his entrepreneurial journey, he said, “If you want to solve a hard problem, it’s a game of persistence and patience. It’s an even harder problem when it’s in an industry that’s not as interesting. Entrepreneurs work as crusaders - convincing everyone - from good technology talent to joining an insurance start-up to convincing regulators on the start-up’s ability to manage risk, etc. It’s also challenging to do things like long term capital and treasury management when you are personally new to it. Building a good team which understands the nuances and complexities of insurance is also challenging. In a nutshell, startups are a blend of great technology and good customer experience.”