The only global life insurance company operating in Nepal, MetLife Alico, rebranded itself as Metlife since January 2015. Company officials say the rebrand is the start of a new and exciting chapter for the company’s growth journey in the country.
According to a MetLife official, the rebranding initiative is aimed at bringing the company under the single ‘MetLife’ brand name, which is recognized globally. “To be a truly world class company in the insurance industry, we strive to distinguish our company by aligning it with a distinct brand identity that is recognizable around the world,” said the official. He added that the rebranding has strengthened the company’s bond with a world class organization which has a global footprint and financial expertise.
However, the company’s legal, registered name “American Life Insurance Company” remains unchanged.
According to company officials, the rebranding will not change any of MetLife’s existing commitments to its customers and business partners. “We continue to put our customers at the heart of everything we do and strive to provide them with the best customer service,” said the official.
“We have built up a strong position to serve Nepal’s unique demographics, growing affluence and towards achieving our goal of being the leading life insurer in the countries in which we operate and giving our customers a reason to smile.”
MetLife officials say that the company has made good strides over the last year in Nepal and that it has started 2015 with a clear focus, as highlighted by its successful rebrand. “We shall continue to expand our distribution channels across Nepal in a disciplined and sustained manner, as well as expanding our geographical reach in the country,” he said adding that introduction of new products, innovative services and value proposition for customers is at the core of MetLife’s strategy to remain a customer-focused organization.
The company provides a wide range of insurance products covering life, accident, health, credit and employee groups through multiple channels, such as individual agents, direct marketing and banks and microfinance institutions. According to the company official, MetLife’s products reflect the company’s promise to deliver insurance products that support and meet the needs of Nepali consumers across all their life stages.
The company provides various insurance plans under three different categories: Life Insurance, Accident & Health Insurance and Employee Benefits (Group Insurance). Its major insurance plans include:
Future Care – DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme): It is the company’s most popular savings and protection plan that accumulates wealth with reasonable returns as well as provides protection to the customers and their families against uncertainties including accidental and critical illness benefits.
Education Protection Plan (EPP): This Plan enables parents to save for the educational and other future needs of their children. This also provides protection for their children’s education in case of the untimely death of the parent, in the form of monthly income benefits and waiver of premiums until the policy matures.
Three Payment Plan (3PP): This Plan helps the policyholder to use part of the insurance value for investment at his/her own discretion as MetLife pays face amount of the policy in three installments while the sum assured remains the same during the term of the policy.
Accident and Health Insurance: This plan covers natural and accidental death, disability, accidental medical expenses, in–hospital income support due to accident and sickness and life-time income in the case of permanent total disability or death that occurs while the policy is in-force. There are various options from which customers can choose the ideal combination of the benefits for themselves and their families.
Critical Care: This plan provides the customer with the lump-sum cash to use for necessary medical treatment if s/he is diagnosed with any of the 31 specified critical illnesses, such as stroke, major cancers, first heart attack, end-stage liver failure, kidney failure, and major organ/bone marrow transplantation among others.
Group Insurance – Employee Benefits: This plan is available to a group of 10 or more (five or more for Small and Medium Enterprises) full-time regular and salaried employees actively at work in an employer’s office in Nepal for at least 30 hours per week, under 65 years of age, and in service on the policy effective date. The coverage includes death and disability due to any cause including accident & sickness.
Expansion – a core strategic priority
Geographical expansion into new towns is a core strategic priority for MetLife. Since the beginning of 2014, the company has expanded its presence to Illam, Gaighat, Hetauda, Banepa, Nepalgunj, Dhangadhi, Tikapur and Mahendranagar. With these expansions, MetLife now has presence in 13 towns outside the Kathmandu Valley.
New Plan for Corporate Customers
MetLife has recently launched a new plan titled ‘Comprehensive Group Medical Plan’ for its corporate customers. Through this plan, corporate houses can provide medical benefits to their employees. The Plan provides flexible benefits that can be tailored to fit the needs of an organization and its employees. This new plan covers basic in-patient general hospitalization, maternity including prenatal and postnatal care, and out-patient general medical, dental and optical for an organization’s employees, the employees’ spouses and dependent children. This is a new group product in addition to the group life insurance coverage that MetLife has been providing since 2004.
Also, the company has recently launched SMS push-pull services enabling its customers to get their latest policy information by simply sending an SMS to the company.
MetLife achieved significant growth in new sales in 2014 as a result of what the officials call disciplined execution of the company’s business strategy. At the end of 2014, the company had over 500,000 lives insured in Nepal. The company whose vision is sustainable and profitable growth hopes to become a leader in the industry in terms of customer satisfaction.
According to the official, MetLife is currently amongst the top five life insurance companies operating in Nepal.
Major turning points
The acquisition of Alico by MetLife in 2010 was a major turning point for the company. Company officials also count the recent rebranding at the beginning of this year as a major turning point. They think the MetLife brand is now gaining wide recognition in Nepal. Though the company has products for all kinds of customers, its products are mainly focused on the middle and upper-middle class. “Our savings-type products are popular among middle and upper-middle income segments of the population who are looking for ways of building their financial security, and we also offer credit protection insurance plans for small borrowers of micro-finance institutions.”
A Strong Brand
With nearly 150 years of experience, MetLife is a leading innovator and recognized leader in protection planning and savings solutions around the world. Its name is recognized and trusted by 100 million customers worldwide and over 90 of top 100 FORTUNE 500® companies in the United States are MetLife clients. It employs around 60,000 people around the world and is present in nearly 50 countries.
According to the MetLife official, its competitors in the Nepali market are no different than the ones it faces globally. “We will continue to focus on our innovative products, best-in-class capabilities, and cutting edge technology to offer the best service possible to our customers,” he says.
“With the breadth of our Asia experience - from successful, mature markets such as Japan to high-potential, emerging markets in Asia - we are leveraging our strengths to take advantage of opportunities across the region. We have proven successful operations in other markets in Asia and we expect to bring our solid experience to Nepal.”
Challenges and Opportunities
MetLife sees lots of opportunities in Nepal as the economy is growing steadily despite political uncertainties. Company officials hope that life insurance will continue to grow in Nepal with the growth of the middle class and awareness of the benefits of life insurance.
The MetLife Foundation, MetLife’s philanthropic arm, was created in 1976 to support communities and provide charitable grants focused on empowering older adults, preparing young people and building livable communities. Since its founding through the end of 2013, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $600 million in grants and $70 million in programme-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities.
In Nepal, MetLife has contributed relief funds to past natural disasters in the country. Last year, the company sponsored an eco-friendly solar powered bus-stand to help the community with safety and convenience. The company has a number of CSR plans in the areas of financial inclusion, education and housing which officials say will be rolled out this year.
The company currently has about 100 regular employees and about 3,500 agents all over Nepal.
Awards and Recognitions
The company received the ‘MetLife Asia Value Award’ in 2014 “for its efforts to make things easier for its micro-insurance customers in Nepal.”