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CEO’s Views

  • Entering the new financial year

    April 2015

    The last year has indeed been transformational from the political, social as well as the economic perspective. After nearly three decades, a party has managed to secure absolute majority in Parliament on the back of two focus areas – "Growth" and "Good Governance". Financial inclusion via the '"Jan Dhan Yojana" and the proposed Social Security System symbolised the commitment of the Indian government towards creating a healthy social infrastructure. On the economic front, reform measures are expected to establish India as a growth-leader among major economies as forecasted by various domestic and global agencies.

    The financial year 2014-15 has proved to be a good year in terms of returns for both equity and fixed income investments. Investor sentiments were revived with the mining and insurance bill being passed in the Parliament and the expectation of implementing GST along with transparency in the process of resource allocation like auctioning of coal blocks. The Government has also introduced various measures aimed at "Ease of doing Business" including tax rationalisation in the Union Budget. The declining interest rate environment, low crude oil prices and a benign global liquidity scenario would help in rekindling the animal spirits which is key in achieving a double digit growth for our economy.

    In a welcome development for the Insurance industry, the much awaited Insurance Amendment Bill was passed in the Parliament thus making 49% FDI in insurance a reality. Apart from the country getting additional foreign inflow, all stakeholders in this sector will benefit due to value creation as a result of the FDI boost. We, at Future Generali India Life Insurance, will continue to strive towards achieving sustained excellence by ensuring best-in-class services.

    I am happy to inform you that both our Traditional and ULIP funds have generated competitive returns over the years. We have been declaring good bonuses to our Traditional Policyholders. Our Future Income Fund (Debt Fund) has delivered a CAGR Return of 10.89% (Annualised return 14.84%) since inception, which is one of the best in the market. Also, our equity funds have given competitive returns over the past one year. The volatility and risk are inherent elements of the financial markets. It is advisable to remain invested for medium to long term and complete the term of the policy to optimise your return.

  • Insurance Bill

    March 2015

    • Passing the insurance amendment bill is truly a positive step forward and the first major economic reform in recent times and Future Generali welcomes this move.
    • This bill will not only enable long term development but also facilitate the reforms agenda and drive economic growth and long term funding to Indian infrastructure projects.
    • The insurance bill will give more powers to the regulator which will enable them not only to regulate better but also empower them to make decisions in the favour of long term development of the industry. We also believe this bill will be beneficial for policyholders and help in increasing penetration of insurance in the under-penetrated Indian market.
    • We believe increase in FDI will enable further product innovation, enhanced customer engagement and service delivery, highest standards of corporate governance norms.
    • Our shareholders stand committed towards long term development and success of the life and general insurance businesses, and Generali will increase its stake in the JVs in line with the regulations and post discussions with the JV partners.
  • Union Budget 2015

    Feb 2015

    Overall reaction to Budget

    The finance minister has presented a forward looking growth-oriented Budget. Focus on 'ease of doing business' has been demonstrated by streamlining of project approval process, composite cap for foreign investment, rationalisation of corporate tax structure, comprehensive bankruptcy law and dispute resolution mechanism. The focus on creating a social safety net, housing, employment and agricultural productivity will lead to inclusive growth. At the same time, increasing public spending by keeping higher than estimated Fiscal Deficit for the next year augurs well for GDP growth. Monetization of gold by creating a Sovereign gold fund and channelisation of savings by increasing the limit in Pension schemes will lead to higher capital flow in productive sectors. Overall, we consider the maiden full-fledged Budget by the present government as pragmatic and credible which shows a lot of promise towards taking the Indian economy towards a double digit growth in next couple of years.

    On insurance

    In the Budget, the government has taken various measures to promote inclusive growth by creating a functional social security system. While Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna is designed to cover accidental death risk of Rs 2 lakh, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna shall cover both natural and accidental death risk of Rs 2 lakh. Higher tax incentives will boost usage of health insurance. Also, limit on deduction on account of contribution to pension fund and the new pension scheme has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh. These measures will surely help higher insurance penetration and aims at providing a safety net of pension scheme to all Indians.

  • How to search for the right life insurance policy?

    February 2015

    Munish Sharda, Managing Director & CEO, Future Generali Life Insurance

    Your friend bought a life insurance policy and told you about it. It is at that time when you realised it was missing from your financial plan and decided to get one too. The decision has been made but you don't know where to begin? Most of the insurance prospects are not sure about which policy would be most appropriate for them. Here are a few easy steps to begin your search process to find one that best suits your needs:

    Step 1: What do I need?

    Life Insurance products offer various choices that will cater to your needs. You need to identify the kind of unforeseen events that can deprive your family of their financial well-being. This would include events like death, disability or any major illness etc. The decision to choose your life insurance product depends on the financial needs of your family. Your decision will be influenced by the following:

    • Current family income and expenses. What portion of income will stop if you are not around?
    • The lifestyle that you want your family to lead even if you are not around. This can be calculated by adding up all monthly expenses.
    • Money that you will need for future needs. For eg: Child's education, House rent, Retirement, Loan repayment etc.
    • Inheritance you will leave for your family. For eg: loan free house, savings etc.

    Addressing the above questions will help you analyse and identify your insurance requirements.

    Step 2: What type of product is suitable for me?

    Life insurance products offer financial security in a more structured and disciplined way. These products can help an individual meet the dual needs of saving for the future as well as protection during unforeseen circumstances. These products offer more than just pure risk cover, as it also provides options which give you market linked returns or guaranteed returns or money backs on key milestones. Many policies will offer you options which can be customised as per your current requirement, for eg: few traditional plans are unique as they offer you benefit payouts which are timed to suit your needs so that you get money at the right time to meet your financial objectives. However, it is important to understand the type of policy you need and there are three simple steps to it.

    • Pure Protection policies OR savings oriented policies?

      You can buy a life insurance cover by paying a very low premium that offers no returns or higher premiums that also offer you the benefit of savings and investments. Savings oriented policies help you to systematically do long term savings. Life Insurance is also a good tool for tax planning and investment returns. Higher premiums may give you additional tax benefits with savings oriented plan. Decide how much you can spend from your disposable income to make an informed decision on the type of policy you wish to purchase.

    • Unit linked plans OR traditional savings plans?

      Before you select a plan, you need to understand the amount of risk that you are willing to take on your investments. In unit linked plans, the investment risk is borne by you; however, there is also an opportunity to earn higher returns. In traditional plans, you can receive steady returns without much investment risk. ULIPs offer a high degree of transparency, where all charges in the plan as well as the entire net amount invested is shown. In traditional plans you can clearly see what you pay and what you will get as benefits in the policy. At times, traditional plans offer steady and almost assured returns over the long term.
    • Period of premium payment – single, limited period or regular period

      Choosing the period of premium payment completely depends on the individual's capacity and commitment to pay for that period. Many life insurance policies offers options to pay just one time or for a defined period or regularly during the period of the policy. Shorter the period, higher is the premium for the same benefits. It completely depends on how long you would like to commit to pay the premiums.

    While you decide what the best option for you is, do also look at options to enhance your cover with additional riders for disability due to accident or critical illnesses. These riders can be added at a nominal cost along with such plans.

    Step 3: Short-list and Select

    Once you have selected the type of policy, the next step is to choose the product which falls within your identified list of policies.

    • Shortlist the policies on the internet: Insurers' websites can be used as a platform to get the required product details. For further understanding, the helpline number or a request for an advisor can be a useful way to gather more information. You can also generate illustrations from the website and compare the benefits and returns of various products and shortlist the insurance providers.
    • Validate your assessment by meeting advisors: Once the insurance company has been decided, their advisor can assist you with the information through a detailed presentation. This will help you identify your needs and choice of the product. This will also help you understand which product is more beneficial and offers better value to you.
    • Select the plan: After all the hard work, you should buy the product that is most suitable for you. With this, you can upgrade your financial plan by addressing your insurance needs and securing your financial goals.

    These simple steps will help you buy the right life insurance policy with ease. Self-assessment of your needs, researching various plans and taking professional advice are the three key 'mantras' for selecting the correct life insurance plan.

  • Are you an informed life insurance buyer?

    September 2014

    Munish Sharda, Managing Director & CEO, Future Generali India Life Insurance

    The insurance landscape in India has undergone significant transformational changes during the last decade, and we often come across the common complaints from a stressed customer such as 'I am conned by my agent//broker or misinformed about my life insurance policy.'

    Who is to be blamed if a life insurance policy does not work for you? Is it completely the fault of your agent/broker for pushing a policy which didn't meet your needs? Or should the customer share the blame for buying without understanding or reading the terms and conditions? The most common concern that the customer faces is whether it is a single premium policy or not; or whether there are guaranteed returns or does it come with an investment risk?

    Being in the life insurance industry for almost two decades, I believe that while selling is an act of persuasion; buying is an act of making an 'informed decision' of choosing a product which meets one's requirements. Simply buying a life insurance policy to please our relatives and friends or just to save taxes or blindly do what the agent says without understanding is called buying with eyes closed or 'mis-buying'.

    There is a strong possibility of mis-buying a life insurance policy if the customer does not pay closer attention to details. One can argue that mis-buying is a result of mis-selling, but if the investor evaluates the options thoroughly and goes through fine prints, it is nearly impossible to buy the wrong product. Here are 10 simple steps that the investor can take to ensure that you don't fall in the 'mis-buying' trap.

    • Check the credentials of your advisor - You should check if the person assisting you is professionally certified to give you financial advice by checking their identification, license and the insurance company or a broker that he or she is associated with.
    • Understand your financial goals before you start discussing the product - Talk to your agent and make sure that the agent gauges your life insurance needs by carefully assessing the gap between your assets and liabilities, your annual income and standard of living, your spending habits and your long term objectives and goals.
    • Understand your risk appetite to choose the type of product - The agent should do a risk profiling exercise to understand and suggest what kind of plan suits your needs - a traditional insurance plan or Unit Linked Insurance Plan. In case, you are offered a ULIP, the agent should advise you on what kind of an investment fund suits your profile.
    • Find the policy that meet your needs and fits your budget – Decide, with the help of the agent, what is the best insurance policy based on your needs, future plans, standard of living, income and liabilities, expected benefit for yourself and your dependents, etc. Do ask your agent for a benefit illustration. In case of doubt don't make a hasty purchase; instead you can research and compare similar insurance products on different websites and take the final decision only once you are convinced about the product.
    • Make an informed decision when you buy the policy – Ask your agent important questions like

      "What would I have to pay for insurance?"
      "How long would I have to pay?"
      "What are the inclusions and exclusions in the policy?"
      "What riders can I add to my policy?"
      "What are the various premium payment options and modes?"
    • Fill in the proposal form yourself in entirety – Don't trust your agent with the job of filling up the proposal form. It is this form that is the basis of a contract with the insurance company and anything incorrect may nullify your benefits. Make sure you provide all the required details without leaving out any information. It is important to disclose all the information. Do not withhold or provide wrong information regarding your health, financial condition, lifestyle, occupation and other insurance policies as this can lead to the cancellation of the contract in future and non-payment of claims. Provide your agent with all the documents that are required to purchase a policy.
    • Ensure that you get a hard copy of the policy – It's up to you to make sure that the policy is delivered to you within the period specified by the agent. Call up the agent or the insurance company if you have not received your policy.
    • Go through your policy in detail – Once you get the policy, verify your details and make sure that you have read understood all the terms and conditions, as well as the charges listed in the policy during the stipulated 'free look period'. If you have any doubts or concerns or want to withdraw your policy, you should immediately contact the agent or the insurance company.
    • Keep your nominee informed – It's good that you have taken an informed decision to buy a policy but it is even more important to let your family know the details of the policy.
    • Pay your premiums on time – Don't buy life insurance unless you intend to stick to the plan. It may turn out to be more expensive if you quit during the early years of the policy. You should also keep in mind not to drop one policy to buy another one without a thorough study and comparison. Replacing insurance policies can be a costly affair.

    The very reason for the existence of insurance companies is to ensure the welfare of the customer and their families and make them financially secure. As a buyer, you can make an informed choice by following the above steps and understanding policy nuances before committing to it. This would make life much simpler for you as well as your life insurance provider and ensure financial security as a tool towards optimizing health, wealth and happiness.