How Turtlemint is driving insurance penetration - Business Guardian
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How Turtlemint is driving insurance penetration



While insurance industry’s penetration in India has been relatively low, compared to the western world, the onslaught of Covid-19 has proved to be a boon to the sector. 

Despite the economic disruption brought by the pandemic, the demand for insurance has picked up. It has become a necessity, rather than a mere choice, according to recent reports. IANS spoke to Dhirendra Mahyavanshi, Co-Founder & CEO, Turtlemint – an insuretech platform that is empowering insurance advisors with the right digital tools to pitch the apt insurance products to their clients. 

Q: India’s insurance penetration was pegged at 4.2 per cent in FY21, according to Swiss Re. With the huge untapped opportunity ahead, what does your business growth trajectory look like 4-5 years from now? 

A: Inarguably, insurance is an essential risk mitigation tool that should be prioritised by every individual. While insurance penetration in India is fairly low at 4.2 per cent in absolute terms, it is also low relative to the global average of 7.4 per cent. Clearly, the opportunity to scale up and drive insurance penetration in the country is immense. Correspondingly, Covid has underscored the relevance of having the right risk mitigation tools since it made all of us realise that life and health-related challenges are unpredictable and can have a significant impact on our journeys. We are very optimistic about the demand for insurance in the coming 4-5 years and beyond. 

To optimally capture this demand, we believe it is important to ensure that people have access to the right advice and the right insurance policies. We understand that insurance advisors are the most important segment in the insurance market and drive approximately 80 per cent of the sales. Technology, with its ability to reach the grassroots level and make insurance buying a seamless process, has inevitably become an important part of our solution. 

Thus, by empowering insurance advisors with the right set of digital tools, we aim to create 1 million financial advisors by 2025 and holistically drive insurance penetration in the country. We have already successfully embarked on this journey and in just five years, we have onboarded approximately 1.4 lakh insurance advisors who are spread across the length and breadth of the country in 14,000+ pin codes. 

Correspondingly, we have onboarded approximately 34 lakh customers, sold around 42 lakh policies, and processed claims more than Rs 30 crore. Through our TurtlemintPro app, advisors can access a wide array of digital tools that can help them upskill, digitally onboard clients, and recommend the right policies to the right people. 

Q: One of the main reasons why consumers are shifting their insurance buying online is because it offers transparency in plans, removes difficulties in claim filings and promotes education in helping them make better decisions. Please tell us about such specific initiatives at Turtlemint? 

A: Consumers today are well-informed and aware of what they want and how they want their products and services to be delivered. They do extensive research before buying any product or service, compare prices and platforms, and then make the purchase decision. This is true for insurance as well. To cater to a more discerning consumer, Turtlemint has established several offerings.

Firstly, Turtlemint has more than 45+ insurance companies and hundreds of products from which consumers can choose. 

Secondly, Turtlemint makes an effort to understand the profile of the consumer by asking a few simple questions depending on the insurance product the consumer wants to buy and recommends the suitable product via the policy recommender. There are also features to sort the recommended products based on the premium rates, include add-ons in the products, understand the list of network hospitals who offer cashless hospitalisaton for health insurance and much more. 

Thirdly, the insurance advisor can leverage the TurtlemintPro app to make recommendations, seamlessly onboard clients, and engage with the clients via SMS or email. Our advisors and customers can access scores of educational videos and text content to upskill and make more informed insurance decisions respectively. Further, Turtlemint also offers advisors lead management tools and marketing tools to promote themselves and grow their business. Most importantly, Turtlemint offers claim assistance to anyone who needs help irrespective of the policy being bought via Turtlemint or not. 

Q: The insurance advisor has a pivotal role to play in the insurance ecosystem. How have you empowered the insurance advisor? 

A: Advisors are the most important segment of the insurance ecosystem. They act as a conduit between insurance companies and consumers and are well-positioned to drive insurance penetration in the country. Thus, we understood early on that to achieve universal insurance, we must empower the insurance advisor with the right set of digital and educational tools. Our custom TurtlemintPro app enables advisors to optimally leverage technology and sell multiple insurance products of multiple companies through one single and multi-lingual application. Further, we have digitised the entire process of training, licensing, and verification, thereby enabling advisors to onboard customers in an efficient manner. 

AREAS OF VALUE ADDITION INCLUDE Help advisors share customised recommendations with their clients by taking into consideration their nuanced requirements. Built a comprehensive online skill development program for insurance advisors. The programme offers more than 70+ courses ranging from insurance advisor certification to personality development courses, sales skills, podcasts, etc. Support the advisor in business growth by providing access to a complete suite of products and information required to become a great insurance advisor. The TurtlemintPro app also provides relevant analytics and information on lead management and shares marketing tools like brochures, posters, own profile, etc. 

Q: What did cloud technology enable you to do that you couldn’t do before? 

A: AWS has been powering all our technology-related activities. It is both efficient and agile and allows us to seamlessly integrate all our technology solutions and activities. As a firm, we are witnessing exponential expansion and AWS has holistically been able to meet our growing demands. 

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Jobless rate soars to 8.30% in Dec: CMIE



The unemployment rate in the country rose by 8.30 per cent in December 2022, the highest in the last 16 months, according to the data released on Sunday from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It added that in November unemployment rate was at 8 per cent. The urban unemployment rate rose to 10.09 per cent in December from 8.96 per cent in the pre-vious month, while the rural unemployment rate slipped to 7.44 per cent from 7.55 per cent, the data showed. Mahesh Vyas, managing director of the CMIE, said the rise in the unemployment rate was “not as bad as it may seem,” as it came on top of a healthy increase in the labour participation rate, which shot up to 40.48 per cent in December, the highest in 12 months. “Most importantly, the employment rate has increased in December to 37.1 per cent, which again is the highest since January 2022,” he said. Containing high inflation and creating jobs for millions of young people entering the job market remain the biggest challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration ahead of national elections in 2024. The main opposition Congress party launched a fivemonth long cross-country march in September from the southern city of Kanyakumari to Srinagar, in Jammu and Kashmir region, to mobilise public opinion on issues such as high prices, un-employment and what it says are the divisive politics of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party.

India needs to move from a single focus on GDP growth to growth with employ-ment, skilling of youth and creating production capacities with export prospects,” Rahul Gandhi, senior leader of the Congress party, who is leading party’s 3,500 kilometre (2,175 mile) march on foot, told reporters on Saturday. The unemployment rate had declined to 7.2 per cent in the July-September quarter com-pared to 7.6 per cent in the previous quarter, according to separate quarterly data com-piled by state run National Statistical Office (NSO) and released in November. In December, the unemployment rate rose to 37.4 per cent in the northern state of Haryana, followed by 28.5 per cent in Rajasthan and 20.8 per cent in Delhi, CMIE data showed.

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Investors should continue to seek higher risk premia from yields for holding higher duration over the medium term




It is evident now that economic growth is slowing appreciably around the world. While this is widely acknowledged by now, one suspects the extent of the eventual slowdown is still not. There seems to be momentum to the slowdown given the context of more restrictive fiscal policy now and the fact that central banks will widely keep monetary conditions tighter for longer.

While China is loosening policy on the margin, there are multiple constraints here both on the quantum of easing possible and the net effect of the same. Thus the only (temporary) respite to the downward momentum to global growth could potentially be from a possible cessation of war and a consequent sharp correction in energy prices (this is mentioned as a possible scenario here and not a view).

Barring that, one would expect the higher momentum data slowdown to eventually feed into the ‘stickier’ parts of the world economy. As one example of this, concurrent data on US housing sales has turned down significantly. Signs that this is percolating into new construction are very much there.

One would think it a matter of time that the housing slowdown starts showing up in house prices and from there as a negative wealth effect for consumers. This in turn may weigh further on discretionary consumption (including for services) which is already slowing. The construction slowdown alongside the ongoing manufacturing weakness would show eventually in the labour market and from there into wages.

The last of these is the slowest moving piece in the chain just described. However this is precisely the shoe the Fed is waiting to see drop, and that is the reason that policy rates will have to be held higher for longer. An implication of this also is that while sovereign rates may already have done the heavy-lifting, corporate bond spreads in developed markets (DMs) appear way too sanguine given the macro context described here.

One can think about India’s own growth momentum in context of slowdown spreading to stickier parts of the world. We have two distinct advantages going for us. One, a long period issue on local corporate and bank balance sheets is now behind us. This has been a significant cyclical drag over the past many years which has now turned into a tailwind.

Two, India’s total monetary and fiscal policy response to Covid has been measured and responsible. This implies that there is very little overhang to deal with of excess stimulus from the past unlike in the case of many developed economies. This is also the main reason behind our view that India needn’t follow the US lockstep in monetary tightening and that we can afford for our effective overnight rate to peak below 6 per cent in this cycle.

Returning to point, however, the cycle and policy tailwinds are ensuring that we now grow more robustly than many other nations around the world. The relative growth advantage will likely sustain going forward.

However, the absolute growth acceleration that we have witnessed over the past few months will have to slow reflecting the weakening global growth. This starts through the export channel, as it already has, and then proceeds to impact local consumption and investments down the line.

Stabler rate hike expectations in DMs from here

Global rate hike expectations were in constant iteration mode (read being continually revised upwards) for most of this year till mid-June. Post that things took a breather. For a while as signs of economic breakage started to become clearer, markets began running somewhat ahead of themselves by not just lowering their terminal rate forecasts but in some cases even building significant rate cuts for late 2023 in some developed markets. As an example, around mid-July approximately 80 bps rate cuts were being priced in for the US next year.

Over the past few weeks, on the back of active central bank pushes against this idea helped with continued upward pressure on European inflation, ‘sense’ seems to have returned. This has been evidenced in both terminal rate pricing going up as well as an expectation now that they will be at higher levels for longer.

This is now more consistent with the message delivered, as an example, by Fed Chair Powell in his recent Jackson Hole speech. In Europe, policy tightening expectations had built in significantly till mid-June but then unwound appreciably on the back of weaker economic data.

However, with inflation concerns going up further and with ECB seemingly showing firm resolve to contain it, rate hike expectations have sharply risen again. These gyrations are best reflected in the movement of German 2-year bond yields over the past few months. The UK has also seen very sharp recent additions to rate hike expectations from the market.

Given all of the recent building back of rate hike expectations, and with clear signs of economic breakage becoming more pronounced, it is unlikely that incoming data leads to more than, say, a 25 bps upward change in expectations from the current levels in most major DMs. Pricing is already for peak rates in this cycle being significantly higher than what are termed as long term neutral rates and thus incoming data needs to very sharply surprise for this to move even higher by a significant step.

Turning home, rate hike expectations with respect to RBI seem to also now be stabilising. To recap, these expectations had become quite unanchored post the inter-meeting hike in May. While we had held on to our view of peak effective rates in this cycle at sub-6 per cent (basis our reading of the current global macro cycle as well as India’s total, relatively modest, post Covid policy response), market pricing was far in excess of this at ‘peak fear’ after the May event.

However, now here as well market seems to be converging towards a peak repo rate of 6-6.25 per cent which is much closer to what we have been thinking. Our view of peak effective overnight rate of 5.75 per cent is consistent with a terminal repo of 6 per cent with overnight rates round the SDF, 25 bps below.

Tighter global financial conditions & possible implications

While DM sovereign rates may be more range bound from here, this doesn’t mean that we are done with tightening in global financial conditions. As rates stay tighter for longer in the face of economic breakage, this may get evidenced more in the usual risk off trades like stronger DM currencies and wider corporate bond spreads (DM corporate bond spreads are still relatively well behaved and seem to have significant room to expand).

Many emerging market (EM) bond yields are also like ‘spread’ assets for global capital. Thus a tighter for longer policy environment in DMs will entail stricter financial conditions and hence a widening of spreads. This may impact yields in many EMs as well.

Over the first half of the year when the world was readjusting its expectation of global monetary tightening, the linkage to Indian bonds was largely through interest rate swaps rather than outright bond selling by foreign investors in a big way.

Most of the capital outflows were instead from the equities markets. This probably reflects the fact that active foreign interest has been missing from Indian bonds over the past few years and hence the amount of rebalancing out may also consequently be lower. Portfolio rebalancing on possible another bout of risk aversion ahead may not impact India’s bonds significantly.

Also with spread between bond and swap having opened up (5 year government bond yields were around 60 bps over 5 year swap yields at the time of writing), there is room for this to compress without significantly impacting underlying bond yields.

However, this doesn’t mean that local bonds are immune to global financial conditions tightening. This needs to be still respected, in our view. As an example, lately the local bond market is abuzz with expectations that India is on the cusp of being included in at least one of the large global sovereign bond indices.

The argument heard is that this time around this is on ‘pull’ from investors desiring some diversification to their EM exposures. Hence it may go through even without associated facilitators that required leeway on taxation which apparently our policymakers were against.

The expectation is that the while flows associated with actual index inclusion may take some time, and the weight assigned to Indian bonds in the index itself would only gradually go up, other ‘fast money’ flow may pre-empt this and already start coming in.

Basis this expectation, one has seen a bull flattening over the past few sessions thereby further flattening the 5 to 10 year yield spread, as local participants have taken positions in longer duration bonds anticipating this announcement.

We have no idea how far this can stretch in the near term. However, nothing changes to our underlying view that if there’s one point of concern that bond markets ought to have over the medium term, it is the amount of duration supply.

This is both on account of higher than pre-pandemic averages on likely fiscal deficit over the next few years as well as a shift higher in annual bond maturities over the next many years from what was the case in the past.

Even adjusted for nominal growth in participant balance sheets, this is a significant step up in duration supply and likely needs support from a demand standpoint. Absent offshore investors, RBI would have eventually stepped in to buy bonds as a means to expand its balance sheet.

With index inclusion, offshore investors will buy bonds and RBI will get the dollars to expand balance sheet. Then RBI wouldn’t need to buy bonds. Either way, over the medium term, the eventual effect on bond yields may be similar.

Thus the issue of duration absorption may still persist after the initial euphoria on index inclusion subsides. Also this would be in what is a tighter global financing environment. In India too even as our peak rate expectations are in place, we would expect RBI to hold them there for longer.

Thus, investors should continue to want higher risk premia from yields for holding higher duration over the medium term. Also given how unforgiving the global environment is, we don’t want to be too ‘tactical’ with our portfolio strategies by trying to chase the bull flattening. All told then, we continue to find the most value in 4 -5 year government bonds.

(The author is Head-Fixed Income at IDFC AMC.)

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Shah urges cooperatives to accept GeM platform





Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday urged all the cooperatives across the country to register themselves on the Government e-Market (GeM) portal, which he said is the best way to promote and expand them.

Minister Shah made the remarks at the event of the e-launch of onboarding of cooperatives on the GeM portal, a first-ever initiative as so far GeM platform was not enabled for registration of cooperative societies as buyers on platform.

Now, all eligible cooperatives across the country will be able to start placing orders on the GeM– which is a one-stop procurement system for goods and services.

The GeM has been set up as the national procurement portal to provide an end-to-end online marketplace for Central and state government departments and ministries as well as Public Sector Units (PSUs) for common-use goods and services in a transparent and efficient manner.

Speaking on the importance of GeM and its benefit, the home minister said, “The ‘Quit India Movement’ jolted the British Empire on this day (August 9) when Mahatma Gandhi gave the slogan. India finally gained independence on 15th August 1947. As we celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ this year, the doors to the GeM (portal) are being opened for cooperative societies.”

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‘Western sanctions won’t affect our trade’




Russia’s envoy Denis Alipov on Tuesday underlined the strength of bilateral ties with India, saying the positive dynamics of trade between the two countries will continue despite the West’s sanctions against Moscow. In an interview with Sputnik News India, Alipov said there were certain difficulties with trade after the start of the Ukraine conflict but added that both countries have successfully overcome most of these barriers. He said sanctions will certainly throw up challenges but the cooperation will continue based on common interests.

“Unfortunately, in the first months after the launch of the special military operation in Ukraine there were certain difficulties with supplying Russian goods to India and vice versa. However, today we have successfully overcome most of these barriers. We are confident that Indian exports to Russia (including science-intensive ones) will gain momentum in the near future,” he said. The envoy noted that the goals outlined in December 2021 at the annual bilateral summit in New Delhi are fully consistent with the enormous potential of the bilateral relations.

“The India-Russia partnership operates on all sorts of levels. We are expanding cooperation in communications, diamond processing, forestry, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, tourism, railroads, metallurgy, civil aviation, shipbuilding and oil refining. Our military and military-technical cooperation is being strengthened,” he said. The Russian ambassador said the dynamics of bilateral trade speak for themselves.

“According to India’s statistics, from January to April 2022, it amounted to USD 6.4 billion. This is almost twice as much as for the same period last year. If we maintain these volumes throughout the year, we will have a turnover of more than USD 19 billion by the end of 2022. To put this in context, let me remind you that in the previous year we had an absolute record of USD 13.6 billion.” Alipov said that Russia sees good prospects for Indian pharmaceutical products, leather and textiles, agricultural goods, components for machinery and equipment, telecommunications equipment, organic chemistry products.

“We expect growth in mutual turnover of services in such sectors as tourism, finance and insurance, telecommunications and information technology, transport and construction. We have great hopes for the implementation of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) project,” he said.

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Qatar, India review bilateral relations




Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Qatar, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani received Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at Amiri Diwan in Doha on Sunday. “PM & Minister of Interior of Qatar, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani received VP @ MVenkaiahNaidu at Amiri Diwan in Doha,” tweeted MEA spox Arindam Bagchi while he informed about the congregation. Continuing the thread, he said that both sides held delegation-level talks and reviewed bilateral relations including trade, investment, and economic and security cooperation. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu received a warm welcome from the Indian community as he arrived in Doha during his last leg of the three-country visit. Naidu wrapped up his Senegal visit yesterday. During his visit to these two countries, India signed two MoUs in Gabon and three MoUs in Senegal in different sectors which underlined the warm and friendly relations between the two countries. Vice President Naidu, during his visit to Senegal also described India as the largest democracy in the world, and Senegal, as one of the most stable and model democracies in Africa. On his three-country visit, Naidu is accompanied by Dr. Bharati Pravin Pawar, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Sushil Kumar Modi, Member of Parliament, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Member of Parliament, P. Raveendranath, Member of Parliament, and senior officials from the Vice President’s Secretariat and the Ministry of External Affairs.

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BJP suspends leaders over inflammatory remarks




I n an apparent response to the ongoing controversy over party spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal’s alleged inflammatory remarks against minorities, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday suspended Sharma and Jindal from the primary membership of the party till further notice. Earlier in the day, BJP said in a statement issued by its general secretary Arun Singh, “The BJP strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion. The Bharatiya Janata Party is also against any ideology which insults or demeans any section or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy.” BJP stated that it “respects all religions” and is “strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion”. “During the thousands of years of the history of India every religion has blossomed and flourished. The Bharatiya Janata Party respects all religions,” the brief statement said. “India’s Constitution gives the right to every citizen to practice any religion of his/ her choice and to honour and respect every religion. As India celebrates 75th year of its independence, we are committed to making India a great country where all are equal and everyone lives with dignity, where all are committed to India’s unity and integrity, where all enjoy the fruits of growth and development,” it said.

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