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ICICI Prudential Life Insurance

About the Project
Project Name: 
Microinsurance for tribal tea plantation labourers-North East India
Type of Facility Project: 
Innovation Grant
País de operaciones: 
Asia and the Pacific
Project Thematic Focus: 
Product design
Life - endowment
Type of Risk Carrier: 
regulated insurance company
Type of Distribution Channel: 
Project Description: 

ICICI Prudential will pilot a term life insurance with a savings component delivered to groups of tea workers through intermediary agencies. The intention is to significantly reduce transaction costs and improve customer service and overall efficiency by using technology. Intermediary agencies would be trained to create awareness, conduct sales and provide customer service.

ICICI Prudential launched its Rural Business Channel in February 2007 and has established a strong service delivery infrastructure through more than 1000 micro-offices in India. It has more than 288 rural offices to increase access and service and has been working with many Micro Finance Institutions. Based on six years of microinsurance experience, the company is reengineering its delivery systems to improve the viability of microinsurance products. The project innovates by using an online service delivery system to reduce the costs of serving low-income persons significantly. Pre-defined targets - such as reducing premiums significantly - demonstrate ICICI Prudential´s commitment to implementing strategies that make microinsurance more affordable to low-income individuals with the additional benefit of tying delivery channels more closely to both the insurer and the insured.


Expected target groups: ICICI Prudential has selected tea tribes of Assam as the target market to launch a microinsurance product. These workers are mostly migrants from neighbouring states who have settled in Assam for generations. Their community is not recognized as ‘scheduled tribes´ under the Indian constitution and cannot therefore benefit from government benefits such as job reservation.

The tea tribes constitute about 17% of the population in Assam. Almost 50% of the tea estate workers are women who are employed to pluck tea, the most labour intensive part of tea production. The average monthly income of a household is around 2000 Indian rupees. In addition, tea estate management provides the workers with housing and subsidised rations.

Due to geographic constraints, however, basic facilities like hospitals, schools, banks, etc. are very limited. There is also very little awareness about institutionalised savings and preventive health amongst the workers. The monthly savings are nominal and mostly saved in the form of cash or unregulated schemes. Due to the lack of awareness and limited access to banks and other financial institutions, the workers tend to borrow money from local money lenders.

Expected outreach:

  • During Project - Direct: 60,000 workers; indirect: 120,000 (family members)
  • Potential Scale – Direct 600,000; indirect: 1,200,000
Lessons from the Project
Learning Agenda: 
  • Can technology significantly improve affordability, responsiveness
  • and transparency for low income policyholders?
  • How can an insurer create a microinsurance culture amongst the working poor? What is the added value of consumer awareness?
  • How can an insurer set up an effective delivery of customer service by intermediaries?
  • To what extent can the proposed model be replicated to other large labour groups?
Emerging Lessons: 
  • The feasibility of rolling-out the IT system in service centres should have been considered more carefully.
  • A new process had to be designed to streamline policy issuance and continuation and contain costs.
  • The mode and method of the awareness campaign need to be carefully selected considering not just the interests of the target audience, but also the level of possible involvement and participation of the community.
  • The most effective way to form a partnership with promoters of Community Videos, was to highlight areas of converging interests and mutual benefit.
  • The awareness program had to be designed while taking into account the political sensitivity of the region.
  • When deciding on sensitive matters, it is prudent to involve the management of the intermediary.
  • To earn the trust of the workers and increase uptake, more resources should have been allocated to involve more workers from the tea estates and to financially support the participants to conduct more mass awareness campaigns.
  • Supplementing microinsurance education with activities such as street plays that discuss relevant themes like alcoholism and safety-at-work can increase the interest, enthusiasm and participation of the community.
  • A pre-requisite to building a partnership with a delivery channel is the channel’s awareness of two things: benefits of microinsurance for their constituents and the benefits of the partnership for the channel.
  • In terms of formalizing the partnership, the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) can take a substantial amount of time.
  • In terms of the operational implications, several process adjustments had to be implemented by ICICI Prudential to increase relevance for the partner and target customers.
  • Implementing a wage deduction system for premium payment became an administrative concern.
  • The project would have garnered larger support and acceptance across tea companies if it had been bundled with other development initiatives that the tea company was pursuing.
  • Showcasing a successful pilot case is needed to convince other potential partners.
  • In the case of a new product, do not underestimate the time needed for product approval.
  • The choice of the sales force should take into account the political sensitivities of the target market and the channel partner.
About the Organization
Tipo de vínculo con el Fondo: 
Innovation grantee
Country of Head Office: 
Region : 
Asia and the Pacific
Type of institution : 
Insurance industry
Participation in Microinsurance: 
Risk carrier
Organizational Overview: 

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. a joint venture between ICICI Bank - one of India's foremost financial services companies - and Prudential PLC - a leading international financial services group headquartered in the United Kingdom. The insurer started its operations in 2000 and is the largest private life insurance company in India with one of the largest distribution networks with more than 2000 branches nation wide.

More about the Organization