Aditya Birla Sun Life open to consolidation due to Covid-19 disruptions: MD

Rao said the company's business in the first quarter of the fiscal was good and it expects to continue the momentum.
Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance (ABSLI) on Sunday said it is open to opportunities for consolidation as the sector is expected to undergo a churn as a result of business disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an e-mail interview to PTI, ABSLI managing director and chief executive Kamlesh Rao said data suggests that in times of socio-economic crisis like this Covid-19, around 30-35 per cent companies find it difficult to survive, while close to 15-20 per cent firms outshine their peers in respective industries and emerge successful.

Based on the performance, "we hope to be in the list of 15-20 per cent companies that outshine their peers. If there are opportunities of consolidation in the market which are worth evaluating, we will explore the same. Currently, we are not in talks with anyone," he said.

ABSLI is a life insurance subsidiary of Aditya Birla Capital Ltd.

Rao said the company's business in the first quarter of the fiscal was good and it expects to continue the momentum.

The company, he said, is comfortably placed and currently not planning to raise funds.

Under the current scenario, it was very difficult to have a short or long-term view about the business, he said adding ABSLI would continue to have a healthy mix of products with a focus on protection and guaranteed solutions.
Even in challenging times like these, the company has successfully launched two products ABSLI Child's Future Assured Plan and ABSLI Assured Flexisavings Plan, catering to the segment of guaranteed savings and protection, he said.

"Digital enablement and the right set of products have paved the growth path for ABSLI. Based on our initial performance and growth in the first four months of this fiscal, we intend to achieve double digit growth, around 15-20 per cent, by the end of this financial year," he said.

As of June 30, 2020, total AUM of ABSLI stood at Rs 44,746.6 crore. It recorded a gross premium income of Rs 1,689.6 crore in the first quarter of FY 2020-21, registering a year-on-year growth of 34 per cent.

On addition of new customers, Rao said the new business premium growth so far has been good for ABSLI.

"While the industry is down by 17-18 per cent, we are up by about 5 per cent, and every month that number is looking better. We were 10 per cent up in May, 15 per cent up in June when compared to last year at the same time, and we expect to continue the momentum," he said.

Last year same time, Rao said about 49 per cent of ABSLI renewal premiums were collected digitally, whereas this year about 71 per cent of renewal premiums came through digital channels.

In certain pockets, owing to liquidity issues, delay in payments have been observed but no negativity in collection, he added.

Rao also said that death claims in the first quarter of the financial year have been on the lower side compared to the same period last year.

"As a result of the lockdown, many people have not been able to come out and file claims. While they could claim digitally, many customers did not avail the digital interface for filing claims. However, with our branches opening up, we have received almost a similar number of claims in July and August this year, as compared to last year," he said.

With regards to Covid-19 claims, he said, "We have received just about 69 claims until now, which is roughly 2 per cent of our overall claims. This trend is reflective of the data for Covid claims in the Indian life insurance industry."

Rao explained that the current environment has made increased risk awareness and risk averseness amongst people, adding that individuals want to secure their life and money both, and there is a flight to safety.

Also there is an increased demand for protection as well as guaranteed products, with a change in the investment pattern, Rao noted.


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