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Friday August 12th, 2022

SLIC Chief Officer General Insurance Priyantha Perera on the importance of customer-centricity

Priyantha Perera Chief Officer-General Insurance, SLIC

SLIC Chief Officer-GI Priyantha Perera discusses the importance of customer-centricity at the state-owned insurance giant and market leader in general and motor insurance segments.

As the market leader in the motor insurance industry, can you tell us why SLIC values customer-centricity?

Fulfilling a need is the basis for a customer to demand a product or service, so when you develop a product or service, you need to have deep insights into customer needs and how a solution will meet, or better still, even exceed, their expectations. In the insurance space, SLIC has excelled in doing just that over the last 60 years, developing innovative insurance solutions for different market segments that deliver above and beyond customer expectations. Every year, we manifest our success in this endeavour by consistently outpacing the market in terms of growth.

Even in 2021, a very challenging year with Covid-19 and the current economic crisis beginning to unfold, SLIC reported growth of 5.4%, against the industry growth rate of 2.8%. That has been the pattern for several years, demonstrating how our customer-centricity is helping us consolidate SLIC as the indisputable market leader in the general and motor insurance segments.

SLIC has introduced several innovative insurance products over the years. One such innovative product offering is Motor Plus Pinnacle. What are some of the gaps you are trying to fill with this product?

Motor insurance is compulsory in Sri Lanka. According to the Motor Traffic Act, all vehicle owners must have at least a thirdparty insurance policy to be eligible to get on the road. However, most Sri Lankans opt for a comprehensive insurance policy that provides basic own damage cover to an insured vehicle. However, we looked closely at how consumer needs and expectations are evolving and decided to revamp our motor insurance coverage with additional benefits and features so that we enhance customer experiences and support their lifestyle choices.

For example, a typical motor insurance product will cover your accident cost and repairs in addition to 3rd party cover. However, Motor Plus Pinnacle will do all that and much more. For collisions far away from home, Motor Plus Pinnacle will reimburse your emergency accommodation costs and provide access to dedicated cashless repair facilities islandwide. Motor Plus Pinnacle provides free personal accident coverage for up to Rs1 million to the insured. The policy reimburses towing charges and provides a rental allowance whilst the vehicle is under repair. It also offers call-and-move facilities, unlimited cover for third-party bodily injury or death, and unlimited third-party property damage cover for private cars. It covers third-party damages up to Rs500,000 for dual-purpose vehicles and extends free leasing and hire purchase cover.

Motor Plus Pinnacle policyholders can enjoy the exclusive benefit of a dedicated team member to handle all claims-related matters and an online motor insurance renewal facility via the Sri Lanka Insurance customer portal and Sri Lanka Insurance customer app. Motor Plus Pinnacle targets a high-end category, people with busy careers but experience more from life. Vehicles valued at Rs15 million and above are eligible for Motor Plus Pinnacle coverage. However, the ongoing economic crisis and inflation have spiked vehicle prices significantly. A vehicle valued at Rs8 million less than a year ago is now Rs15-16 million, which means that Motor Plus Pinnacle is in place as a value-added motor insurance cover that will ease the burdens exerted by myriad challenges from the flagging economy. We believe Motor Plus Pinnacle is the need of the hour.

As a pioneer in the market, we have always strived to be innovative. Motor Plus Pinnacle is just one of those innovations. We have other innovative insurance products that cater to the different segments of the market, from the unique needs of lady drivers to three-wheelers and motorbikes. By doing so, our customers across every market segment continue to place their trust in our protection, thereby helping us sustain our market leadership status.

How is it reimagining motor insurance for the consumer in these challenging times? Can you discuss the features and benefits?

Every industry is going through unprecedented challenges, and for many businesses, the unfolding crisis is quintessentially an existential crisis. The insurance industry is not immune to the economic crisis. As I said before, vehicle prices have increased astronomically, pushing vehicle owners to the brink with rising insurance premiums, not to mention maintenance costs and increased fuel charges.

Customers are contending with many challenges due to this. Therefore, it was necessary to have a solution like Motor Plus Pinnacle so that customers enjoy superior returns on the premia they invest with us. When we launched Motor Plus Pinnacle in May 2022, we did not intend it to be a solution for some of the problems customers grapple with due to the economic crisis. However, because we took the customer-centric approach to R&D, it was not surprising that Motor Plus Pinnacle is a sought-after insurance solution today.

Insurance cover, by nature, is a non-tangible product, as in you cannot experience it unless something breaks down in the insured asset, so we wanted to break this mould and transform insurance into something that customers can both experience and appreciate. We wanted customers to experience the tangibility of our product by enhancing the convenience and comfort factors on par with our protection coverage. For example, with Motor Plus Pinnacle, you can enjoy greater peace of mind in the remotest parts of the country, no matter how far away from home, because you can rest assured that SLIC is with you.

How is SLIC contributing to uplifting the industry and improving the well-being of the people of this country?

For Sri Lanka Insurance, our most treasured assets are our customers and employees. If employees are well-treated, they will strive to give their best to the company by keeping customers at the centre of everything they do and providing consistently superior customer service.

Therefore, we introduced several measures to engage our employees, motivate them and give them better opportunities to grow in their careers and personal lives. From the onset of Covid-19, we have provided our employees with a flexible working environment, but with the ongoing fuel shortages disrupting transportation, we are looking to increase that flexibility further.

In terms of our customers, we will continue to focus on providing the best products that add value across every market segment. SLIC is the motor insurance market leader with the most diverse portfolio. Our market-beating growth each year is due to our reach across the country and our ability to understand customers better. Most insurance companies will have a strategy focusing on a particular segment or brand that is profitable to them. But in our case, we cater to every market segment.

For example, early this year, we launched Medi60, a medical product targeting the over-60s population.

Typically, insurance companies don’t provide medical insurance to this segment due to inherent risks. However, we firmly believe every citizen has a right to insurance, so we went the extra mile to do just that with Medi60. As a state entity and market leader in the insurance industry, we have a broader mandate and responsibility towards the country and its people. While we maintain good governance and management standards resulting in solid profitability and shareholder returns, what defines SLIC is its contributions to economic and social development in Sri Lanka. That is a mandate we will fiercely carry out no matter how challenging the macroeconomic environment becomes.