RenewBuy delivers insurance policies with a human touch

(From left) Harman Preet Singh (sales head), Indraneel Chatterjee (COO), Balachander Sekhar (CEO), Sandeep Nanda (CTO) and  Devesh Joshi (chief marketing officer) of  RenewBuy
During his past seven years of owning a two-wheeler Nirmal Kaur could not find an agent in Delhi willing to renew his insurance policy. He feels the commission for renewing a lapsed policy is too low for anyone to be interested. And so he appreciates the services of RenewBuy in renewing his policy with just a click. “My friend told me about RenewBuy, where I could not only revive the lapsed policy but also review multiple quotes. I had my policy on my phone in a few minutes,” says Kaur.

Founded in 2015 by two insurance industry veterans, Balachander Sekhar and Indraneel Chatterjee, RenewBuy is an online insurance aggregator that is trying to change the way insurance is bought, sold and serviced in the country, using technology and by simplifying and digitising motor insurance.

Recently RenewBuy raised Rs 60 crore ($9.2 million) from Amicus Capital, a mid-market growth capital fund. It had earlier raised $2.5 million from Mount Nathan, a Singapore-based investment and advisory firm, and a group of high net worth investors.

“We are highly impressed with RenewBuy’s differentiated and capital-efficient approach to finding a unique digital solution for insurance distribution. We are delighted to make a significant investment in RenewBuy, which is poised for exponential growth. Amicus Capital is committed to catalysing RenewBuy’s transition into a highly successful online insurance platform in the next few years,” said Mahesh Parasuraman, partner, Amicus Capital.

Product concept

India has over 120 million two-wheelers and 15 million cars and the automobile market is growing at 10 per cent annually. According to various studies, over 80 per cent of two-wheelers and 25 per cent of cars do not have insurance, a concern voiced by the government. Surveys have shown that most consumers seek transparency and the lowest price, which can be provided by an online platform. However, they also want service delivery with a human touch.

“RenewBuy has understood the need gaps in the market and has over the past two years moved beyond the cost inefficient direct-to-consumer business by digitising the ecosystem and converting traditional insurance agents as well as other motor category influencers into RenewBuy authorised digital agents. These agents, using RenewBuy’s technology platform on their phone or laptop, are now able to provide choice, best price and instant policy without paperwork, as well as quality service pre- and post-sale to their customers at the click of a button,” says Sekhar.

Moreover, they are now able to address low-margin two-wheeler insurance, which was earlier out of bounds, he adds.

Opportunities

RenewBuy is bullish on motor insurance growth and sees it as an opportunity. Car and two-wheeler insurance is a $5-billion industry in India. More than 98 per cent is currently distributed offline by agents and dealers and is extremely fragmented. By 2020, the market is poised to grow to $8 billion. PolicyBazaar, CoverFox and EasyPolicy are some of the other online insurance aggregators competing in the growing online insurance market.

In less than two years, RenewBuy claims to have become the second largest player in the online insurance industry with more than 250,000 consumers and in excess of Rs 100 crore annualised insurance premiums. RenewBuy’s online and mobile platform is used by more than 7,000 insurance agents to service their customers.

Revenue model

RenewBuy has an insurance broking licence from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and works on a commission model with insurance companies. A portion of the commissions received is passed on to agents.

Challenges

Building a cost-efficient insurance distribution channel is a challenge for the company, given India’s vast geography and diverse cultures. RenewBuy believes the use of technology will drive insurance penetration significantly, an important social need for the country. Also, the use of technology to solve critical processes like lapsed policy insurance and claims is key to driving customer-centric solutions for the category.

Road ahead

RenewBuy plans to break-even by March 2018. It aims to close the year with an annualised premium collection of Rs 120 crore and subsequently Rs 350 crore by 2018-19. The company plans to consolidate and be relevant in 30 locations physically and will be able to cover 100 locations through a hub-and-spoke model in the next three years. It also aims to add 50,000 agents in the next three years. RenewBuy has operations in the National Capital Region, Punjab (Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Amritsar), Maharashtra (Mumbai and Pune), Karnataka (Bengaluru) and Tamil Nadu (Chennai). “We are the only company with a physical-digital model to have deployed 7,000 agents. That is our USP,” says Sekhar. The company plans to foray into health insurance later.

Expert take

We have been associated with RenewBuy.com for more than two years and really appreciate their unique business model, says K K Agarwal, executive vice-president, IFFCO-TOKIO General Insurance Company


Digitisation has changed the buying behaviour of consumers. From grocery to health care, they are using digital platforms to fulfil their requirements. The government’s Digital India drive and the recent demonetisation have pushed this further. The team at RenewBuy understands this and is doing a fantastic job in this area. Its platform provides transparency and ease of buying through their smart digital agents. The digital agent model not only fulfils the basic consumer requirements, but also makes the traditional insurance agent ‘smart’ by helping them digitise their business, thereby dramatically improving their productivity and efficiency. Business models like this will be future growth drivers in this category.