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Customer centricity is at the core of Niva Bupa’s business: Nimish Agrawal

Niva Bupa, a leading standalone health insurance player in India, is a joint venture between Fettle Tone LLP (an affiliate of True North Fund VI LLP), a leading Indian private equity firm, and the Bupa Group, a leading international healthcare company with a legacy of providing specialised healthcare services for over 70 years. Last year, the company opened 50 offices and is planning to open another 50 offices this year. The ambition is to continue to open 50 offices in the foreseeable future, because there is a sizeable opportunity in health insurance. The insurer has 13 bank partners, thus getting access to 35,000 bank branches through which it distributes its products. In addition to bank partners, the insurer also has tie-ups with non-bank partners, including digital non-bank partners.

Max Bupa has been recently rebranded as Niva Bupa. It is one of the five pure-play health insurers in the country. Others in the space are Start Health and Allied Insurance, Care Health Insurance, Manipal Cigna Health Insurance, and Aditya Birla Health Insurance. Under the new brand Niva Bupa, the company will continue to expand their digital and network presence that will allow customers to avail their products and services anytime, anywhere across the country.

Speaking to Adgully, Nimish Agrawal, ‎Senior Vice President & Head of Marketing, Niva Bupa Health Insurance, speaks at length about the rebranding exercise, the ambitious plan to empower every Indian to have a closer access to best-in-class health care, how the company is doubling down on its digital product, service, and marketing capabilities, and more.

Tell us more about the rebranding exercise. What was the purpose and the new vision and mission for the new name and identity?

As part of the change in shareholding pattern, with the exit of Max India in December 2019, it was required to build a new identity for MaxBupa. We decided to seize this opportunity to dig deeper, double click on our role in the life of our consumers, partners, advisors and redefine and recalibrate our purpose in line with our growth aspirations. After a rigorous consumer testing across the value chain, the company decided ‘Niva Bupa’ as the new identity for Max Bupa. The term“Niva” is a popular Hindi/ Sanskrit word that also means ‘Sun’ – source of energy, power, positivity and above all life in itself. The brand has redefined its purpose “To give every Indian, the confidence to access the best health care”. 

What has been the progress on the product innovation front? How have you been different as a health insurance provider to steal the limelight in a highly competitive market?

We have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to product innovation. As a health insurance company, we have been the pioneers in introducing some of the unique features which have become a standard offering now. Be it including as many as 19 family members in a single health policy, to having our own dedicated department for claims processing, so that we process customers’ claims without any third-party administrator (TPA), thereby significantly reducing the time taken to process customer claims.

Our initiatives like Any Time Health (ATH) and Point Of Care (POC) desks at select hospitals also received tremendous traction amongst our customers. We launched ReAssure product just last year with first-in-category feature like unlimited sum insured, wherein customers can claim for any illness or any family member covered for as many number of times as they want, during a policy year. It also has an option of “Safeguard benefit”, which covers for non-payable items like PPE Kit, Gloves, etc.

Catering to the segment, which perhaps needs health insurance the most, Niva Bupa recently launched Senior First product, a tailor-made plan for senior citizens, designed to overcome the current challenges faced by senior citizens while purchasing health insurance. Senior First plan also includes ReAssure benefit offering unlimited sum insured for any type of hospitalisation, including the ones related to COVID-19. Addressing the disease specific concerns, the plan offers complete peace of mind by having no sub-limits on common health conditions like cataract, knee replacement, etc. 

The rebranding exercise will also entail new brand positioning of the company overall. How have you repositioned as a company post the rebranding?

Over the last decade, the purpose of Max Bupa has been “to help consumers lead healthier and more successful lives”. The brand enjoyed the reputation of standing by its customers at all times, be it during hospitalisation or outside of hospitals by promoting a healthy lifestyle through various initiatives.

As we move into the next phase, we would like to take forward our understanding of the Indian market that we have gained over these years about customers’ needs and wants by empowering them with means which are in sync with today’s times that help them take full charge of their health. We see a need to humanise the category and adopt a more humane approach in our communication. Gone are the days when health insurance worked on negative fear emotion. There is need to bring positivity in this category and empower customers with means that provide them complete peace of mind.

With a new brand name, our brand’s purpose is also being realigned. And in this new journey, the company intends to enable consumers to take charge of their health by bringing together digital tools, meaningful and actionable information, and access to right healthcare. 

Customer centricity is very pivotal in the insurance business. How have you strengthened your service and addressed the customer grievance?

Customer centricity is at the core of our business. It’s an ongoing obsession internally, where we continually try to improve areas like claim processing/ authorisation by leveraging a lot of data science and predictive algorithms and automation. Secondly, we continually monitor NPS and other customer satisfaction scores across all our consumer touchpoints, be it our website, apps, call centers or emails.

As we move forward, the purpose is to build an intimate brand and simplify health insurance massively to drive adoption amongst the larger audience. We intend to leverage a blend of ourmushrooming offline presence with new branches/ strategic partners and online with our digital assets. 

The transition to digital has kept every insurance brand on their toes and many of them adapted to the situation. How has Niva Bupa leveraged digital to maximise reach, increase conversions and stay engaged with the audience?

In a recent consumer behaviour study done in collaboration with a third eye research agency, we realised a few key trends in the health insurance space being shaped on account of the pandemic.

Downageing: The category which typically saw traction with consumers in the 35+ age group, is now rapidly being searched by younger audience, given the health scare. Many youngsters are looking to buy for their parents.

Women’s Participation: From a male bastion and being transacted as a financial instrument, health insurance is now dinner table conversation with women of the house playing an equally important role.

Given these trends along with the fact that digital adoption across the categories has anyways seen a huge positive shift – Digital has become a fairly important way across the consumer journey, whether its discovery, consideration or transaction. Over the last 18 months, we at Niva Bupa are doubling down on our digital product, service, and marketing capabilities. Right from onboarding customers to settling claims, everything has become digital. We have digitised our underwriting and risk assessment processes. We are also enhancing our digital self-serve capabilities. Currently, about 60% of our transactions are self-served. Moreover, about 80% of our renewals happened digitally this year. Today, about 80-85% of our payments are done digitally. This year, we are trying to auto-adjudicate claims digitally so that the decision is given real time. We have also enhanced our Health App. Today, a customer can book a teleconsultation and order medicines, apart from just buying a health insurance.

Additionally, we have built an intuitive chatbot named CIA, which can address most basic servicing needs of our customers regarding policy details, claims, renewal, purchase, premium payment, etc. In fact, CIA is equipped to address queries related to COVID-19 as well.

On the marketing front, our mix is skewed towards digital channels, we are building creative assets that are personalised for consumers rather than spray and pray. We are leveraging a lot more content to drive engagement than adverts and the same will continue going forward as well. 

How does this new rebranding exercise help your current and new customers? What’s your communication and engagement strategy to inform your audience about your new name and brand identity?

There will be no change or impact in regular processes for customers. The core of our business is still the same. All our commitments, policies and undertaking see no change and stay exactly the same.

As part of this rebranding exercise, we intend to empower every Indian to have access to best in class health care. And to realise this we intend to:

  • Drive adoption by leveraging both physical and digital expansion of our touchpoints
  • Aid comprehension by simplifying the communication and offerings to our customers
  • Offer hassle free claims, best in the industry servicing
  • Assist and handhold consumers at the time of claims or health emergency
  • Bring innovation and best in class products and services

We have already started communicating to our policy holders, partners, and vendors. The change will reflect in all our partner and consumer facing assets by end of November.


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