National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) is a Government of India Undertaking and is operating in Nepal since 1973. NICL completed 106 years on 6th December 2012 and is into the 107th year of operation. Prior to nationalisation in India in 1972, it was operating as a private company. In 1972, at the time of nationalisation of Non Life Insurance Sector in India, there were 106 companies operating in India and later on, 22 Foreign and 11 Indian private companies were merged to form National Insurance Company Limited.
National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) had hardly any competitions at the time of establishment, three decades back in Nepal. Now the company is facing a cut throat competition from 17 non life insurance companies in the Nepali market.
The stiff competition does not deter the company from having its strong foothold in the market. NICL believes and enjoys working on a competitive environment. “We welcome competition in the insurance field. We strongly feel that competition is must to ensure prompt services to clients and it is good for the customers as they can look forward to better services,” said Dr Pronab Sen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company’s Nepal operations. However, the competition is mostly in the service front since most of the portfolios are tariff products and the rates are fixed by the regulators, so the competition is almost none on the premium rate front.
Though the competition has heightened much, insurance business has not been able to penetrate deep enough into the insurance market. Sen said that the penetration level is just 0.55 per cent. Therefore, the company sees huge untapped market potentials available.
“I strongly feel that the non life insurance business can be increased many folds in Nepal as the awareness level is very low and we need to create insurance awareness among masses,” said Sen. Even though the Nepali insurance market has seen many players for the last three decades, still the awareness level lies low. The insurance market has not developed much during this time span. Sen feels that there is a need to recruit agents, who can propagate the message of insurance among the masses and make people understand the need of insurance. He believes that this could be the means to create indirect employment.
Amid the competitive environment, the NICL has come up by leaps and bounds. Dr Sen said, “We have grown many folds in terms of business, manpower and networking.”
‘We strongly feel that competition is must to ensure prompt services to clients and it is good for the customers as they can look forward to better services.’
Dr Pronab Sen CEO, Nepal Operations National Insurance Company Ltd
Currently the NICL has six branch offices - three in Kathmandu and one each in Birganj, Biratnagar and Nepalganj. Sen said that the company has Beema Sewa Kendras in Hetauda and Janakpur. “Apart from this, we also have representatives based in Dhangadi, Dharan, Narayangarh, Simara and Birtamod with the controlling office in Kathmandu,” he explained.
NICL has planned to expand its network to cities like Pokhara and Bhairahawa and upgrade the Beema Sewa Kendras to Sub Branch. Sen said that with a service oriented motive the NICL has some ambitious plans on a customer centric ground. Similarly the company is planning to organise insurance awareness programmes for the clients along with publicity and brand image.
Products and Services
Being a non life insurance company, NICL offers wide range of products ranging from Motor, Fire, Personal Line policies like Sweet Home, Personal Accident, Health Insurance, Liability, and Aviation among others. According to Sen, the company has cattle and livestock and crop policy in its pipeline as the Insurance Board has already issued directives for the same.
To ensure prompt services, the NLIC has centralised its claims processing and started a Centralized Claims Processing Hub in Kathmandu, with the sole idea of reducing the Turn Around Time (TAT) in claim processing, according to Sen. “On experimental basis, we have also started paying claims through Electronic Clearing Service (ECS) and in the initial stage, we are restricting it to the corporate clients and based on the results, we will initiate this system for all claims,” he revealed. Employee’s salary, surveyors payment and agency commission payment is being done through ECS as an experiment.
The company has 76 employees as of now. The company believes that its employees are its most valuable assets. NICL gives value to the team work and the spirit of working in unity. Sen shared, “We are continuously trying to upgrade the soft skills of our team members with the motto “Grow Profitably” i.e. ensure top line as well as bottom line growth and feel proud to be an NICian.”
He said that the company is continuously involved in developing the soft skills of its employees so that they can perform better and make the team more sensitive to customer’s needs and deliver results in time.
Though having its parent company in India, NICL has just two expats from India and rest of its manpower is from Nepal itself. “Our recruitments are restricted to Nepali citizens only,” said Sen.
However, one of the biggest challenges the company is facing at the moment is getting skilled manpower in insurance domain. To resolve this issue the NICL organises in-house training to its people.
The NICL believes in maintaining the transparency and good corporate governance to its best. Sen explained, “Our management’s commitment is to maintain transparent working and remain committed to compliance of tariff and guidelines of the regulator and law of land.” The company has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with the regulator – Insurance Board of Nepal - in its operation history and strictly abide by all the rules and regulations issued by the regulator.
Managing claims is probably one of the challenging jobs at an insurance company. To handle the sensitive issue, the company is concentrating on improving claims services and reducing TAT for claims settlement. Sen believes, being a part of the service sector, the overall business depends on the quality of the services offered. “Now we have a process in place, to depute surveyors immediately on receipt of the claim irrespective of the fact whether it is a holiday or a working day,” he said, “To complete the formalities to enable us to settle client’s claims at the earliest possible.”
Beginning from the 107th Foundation day on 6th December 2012, the NICL has initiated the CSR activities in Nepal. As a part of the CSR activities, the company distributed 107 blankets and rechargeable torches to poor elderly people and orphan children. NICL also organised a health check up camp and blood donation camp on 6th January 2013, which was attended by the NICL employees, clients and surveyors apart from general public. The company plans to plant 107 saplings shortly along with numerous other CSR plans in the pipeline.
Similarly, the company is also the Gold Sponsor of Walkathon organised by Standard Chartered Bank every year for helping restoration of eyesight of visually impaired and to help the HIV infected persons in Nepal.