Since its inception in 1947, Oriental Insurance, one of the largest insurance companies in India, with more than 1,800 operating offices in various cities of India, as well as in Nepal, Dubai and Kuwait, offers competitively priced insurance schemes.
Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Resident Manager of Oriental Insurance in Kuwait, is a veteran of the insurance industry, having joined Oriental Insurance as a Direct Recruit Officer way back in 1985. For the last 30 years he has occupied several senior positions in branches/divisions and regional offices across India, as well as a four-year stint in Singapore with an associate company of Oriental Insurance. Earlier this year, he was appointed as Resident Manager in Kuwait on account of his vast work experience and strong managerial skills.
The Times Kuwait recently spoke with Mr. Mukherjee to learn about Oriental Insurance, its activities in Kuwait and the various plans they have lined up for customers in the country.
Please give us a brief overview of Oriental Insurance during the past 67 years
From the very beginning, Oriental Insurance was a government company, initially a part of Life Insurance Corporation of India and it gradually grew to become one of the topmost companies in India. We employ more than 14,000 employees who sell more than 100 different insurance products.
We are a growing Multinational company with many offices in India and a few in other countries. Soon we expect to open an office in Qatar.
What does the 67th Anniversary mean to the company?
The special significance of 67 years is that the insurance field in India has been transformed and it is currently more market-driven with emphasis on meeting the demands of the consumers. Following the market liberalization in India, if a company has maintained its position through open competition, and has had its capabilities tested by the market, they are deemed to have proven their worth. This has been the case with Oriental Insurance. The 67th anniversary has demonstrated that Oriental is doing a great job for its large base of satisfied clients.
From Oriental’s humble beginnings to becoming an extensive operation, we have been providing meticulous insurance service to our clients for decades, using the latest technology and updating our offerings to better serve the consumer.
It is worth noting that Oriental started its operation in the same year that India gained independence, and as India progressed, we have undergone rapid development. Even in Kuwait, our main focus is the expatriate Indians.
In Kuwait, we have an Agency operation supported by Our Chief Agent, Badar Al Mulla, a well known name in Kuwait. This Anniversary gives us an opportunity to affirm our customers in Kuwait about our pledge to serve them to their satisfaction as we have done in the past and to fortify our reputable brand.
What are some of your new products you plan to introduce into the local market?
We are planning to introduce some products which are not currently available, as well as popularize products already on offer. For example, our health insurance products are very unique though most expatriates are currently covered by the government scheme. The Government, if anytime, discontinues the scheme or privatizes the health insurance in Kuwait and thinking about such a probability, it motivates us to provide good health care coverage for the expatriates and all at a reasonable cost.
Our policy will be on a cashless basis, and consumers will not have to make any upfront payments. When you are hospitalized, the insurance company will pay through a third-party administrator. We provide these services now, but in the future we look to make it more extensive and attractive. We want to provide very good and affordable coverage for everybody, especially for the Indian Expatriates.
We are also planning to make various changes and alterations in our policies. At present, we also have a professional indemnity policy for Doctors, wherein Doctors who make an error during a medical procedure will have their legal liability covered. Many Indian doctors have already taken it, but we would like to raise more interest among doctors as this is a very good product.
Incidentally, we are also thinking about the growing popularity of sports and events in Kuwait and what coverage we can offer. The IPL cricket matches in India are covered by Oriental, and offering the best sports/event insurance is a part of our brand endeavor.
Kindly tell us about your Motor Insurance policy?
Our Motor Insurance policy has also seen some improvements, and we have introduced some new concepts. For instance, in our ‘No claim bonus’ facility, if you don’t have any claim on your policy for a year, we will give you a discount on the premium in the following year. This is a kind of incentive to drive safely. We are first targeting the Indian expatriates, then the rest of the population in Kuwait.
Can you name some of the popular Insurance policies that the company offers?
One of our popular products is the Property insurance scheme that allows our clients to insure all their Property/household items against fire or burglary. A similar product is available to industries, particularly godowns and shops. In addition to the regular insurance like Project and Workmen’s insurance, Oriental also offers insurance tailored to the needs of the consumer. For example, Marine Hull insurance is offered for the boats or yachts that some people own. We also cover high value personal items like watches, artworks, jewelry and guns.
Aside from these specialized products, we are trying to expand our offering list, such as our Group Personal Accident policy that enables schools to protect their students by insuring them in the case of any accidents on school property.
How does Oriental Insurance stand apart from its competitors in the market?
Oriental Insurance is different based on our approach to our clients. We were the first among insurance companies in India to use the latest technology in the insurance field; Moreover, our core insurance solution is one of the best. Secondly, we excel at settling claims swiftly and provide quality service. And since we are in business for a long time, our talent pool is also excellent; our staff are professionals who provide the best services.
Oriental Insurance is also very involved in the various aspects of the business, like we have a good inspection team that visits the area, and judges every detail before giving their recommendation for a policy.
In India, all our offices have a core insurance system, which is accessible from anywhere and at any point of time, so that it gives us a lot of operational flexibility. Customers can also buy policies online and renew it.
How do you measure your success?
A.M. Best Company has given us a credit rating of B++, which is a very high rating that underlines our financial strength. We have also enjoyed the highest rating from leading Indian Credit rating agencies, CRISIL and ICRA. With the support of the Finance Ministry of India, who is our owner, we are able to create high value added products and perform extremely well for all including the Indian community.
How have you generated loyalty in your customers to trust Oriental Insurance?
We have cemented our Brand as trustworthy and reliable name to Indian expatriates through our dedication and service, with strong financials and are supported by the Indian Government. Clients also know that we are an old company with a rich past history. In Kuwait, we are tied up with another local big brand- Badar Al Mulla, who is our Chief Agent. We are in Kuwait since 1959 and for the past 27 years, we are associated with Al Mulla. They have contributed immensely to build up our brand in Kuwait with all infrastructural help. Moreover, Oriental Insurance is well known not only in India but around the world.