Indian rich warm up to art insurance

Get Cover Based On Valuation By Experts, Support In Restoration And Replacement

The Indian rich are warming up to insuring their art and valuable collections thanks to the value-added services provided by insurers and their flexibility in accepting ‘agreed value’ covers. Besides paintings and antiques, there are instances of a high-networth customer insuring 350 pairs of shoes. But extraordinary covers are nothing compared to what AIG insures in the US. Valuables include $13 million worth of shrunken heads, a15th Century book written on human skin and a frozen art installation made in the artist’s own blood.

The capability for underwriting art insurance was brought to India by AIG, which has a joint venture general insurance company with the Tata Group. What is now prompting the rich to insure their collection is the availability of ‘agreed value’ policies based purely on expert valuation and the willingness of insurers to provide cover without calling for invoices or other such proof.Also, most buyers are choosing to insure their valuables not because they cannot afford the loss but because of the support they get in restoration or replacement of the valuables.

In the last four years, Tata AIG has been covering art and other valuables collection of hundreds of rich Indians and has a sum insured of over Rs 500 crore. Customers include ultra high-net-worth businessmen to film stars and the insurer has already paid out a handful of claims for theft.

Speaking to TOI, Ronald Fiamma, global head of private collections at AIG, said the company was offering products that were never before available and the mainstay of its offering was the risk management services that came along with the policy. The company manages to provide expert advice because of the talent it has recruited from the art world. For instance, Rand Silver, global director of art collection management, is an art expert formerly with British auction house Christie’s.

“There is a misconception that what keeps us awake is the risk of theft. But it isactually accidental damage that is the bigger risk,” said Silver. While the company asks the client to get the collection valued through an independent valuer before the cover, the subsequent free services includes advice on the right service pro viders for packing and transportation, preparing staff with the drill in the event of a storm or fire and a list of conservators in theevent of an emergency. It is also not just about providing a monetary compensation. Silver says that AIG helps clients in replacing valuables, restoring damaged art and has even got Ferrari to reconstruct a limited edition Ferrari Enzo that was totalled in a crash. In another instance, the companyhired scuba divers to recover a bracelet that had fallen overboard because of the heirloom’s value.

What makes art insurance different from other property insurance is the higher level of good faith. According to Fiamma, AIG has paid out claims where paintingswere damaged in a bout of marital discord. “We have had a case where a lady went skiing and wore a diamond brooch over her skiing suit and lost it. We paid the claim,” said Fiamma.

He adds that claims are paid even if they arise out of negligence unless it is a blatantly intentional act.

Source: Times of India

Date: 14/01/2015

Pvt Insurers Find Going Tough in Small Towns, Check Out

Private insurers are shutting their branch offices in small towns due to lack of profits from these areas, leaving the state-run Life Insurance Corporation to bear much of the burden of financial inclusion.

According to the latest annual report by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, LIC opened 1,313 offices during 2013-14 while private insurers closed down 732 offices and opened 166, taking the net reduction in offices of private insurers to 566 during the fiscal.

Of the total 11,032 total offices of life insurance firms in the country, LIC has 79.6% of its branches in small towns while its private peers have 57.95%.

Insurance companies have been closing down unviable offices and turning much of their fixed cost into variable cost as they struggle to generate reasonable returns even after a decade of op erations. A slew of changes introduced in 2010 on life insurance policies, including a cap on commission paid to agents, have adversely affected the sector.

Private insurers had closed down 1,097 branches in the previous year to cut costs.

Instead of expanding their footprint -which calls for capital to set up new branches and investment in training of staff -life insurance companies are investing in technology to reach out to prospective customers and enable smoother issuance of policies.

The industry had seen growth of 9.43% in premium income in 201314, largely due to LIC’s performance while the private sector saw a 1.35% decline in premium income during the period.

Life insurance industry had re . 7,588 crore ported a total profit of ` during 2013-14. Six insurance companies in the private sector paid dividend to their shareholders during the year.

According to the report, the number of life insurance agents increased to 21.88 lakh during the fiscal from 21.22 lakh in 2012-13.

Amid hopes of economic revival, most industry leaders expect 10-15% growth in life insurance in the current fiscal.

Source: The Economic Time

Date : 13-01-2015

The workplace of 2015 will continue to hire talent with soft skills to gain a strong competitive advantage

As we look expectantly toward what the New Year will bring, one area where resolutions are often enthusiastically made (and rarely kept) is w.r.t our jobs and career goals.Our professional lives can always do with some improvement; why not start with enhancing your soft skills?


Clarity of thought is the first step towards developing good public speaking skills. This allows you to be concise, deliver your message with a highimpact and gain credibility.Many people with excellent qualifications and exemplary execution abilities suffer from poor communication skills, which cripple their good ideas from the start. A good speech or presentation can get others on-board, while displaying to the senior management that you are serious about those growth forecasts.


This includes a wide range of communication skills and people engagement skills that will help you build productive working relationships with colleagues and form bonds, which are use ful at all stages of your career.Effective interpersonal skills put you in a positive light and enable you to make that crucial first impression a great one. Employers covet people with interpersonal skills like the ability to put people at ease, and get buy-in from others; also networking effortlessly and communication with clarity are vital.


The art of negotiation is not everyone’s cup of tea and it might seem like the hardest skill to develop, but with practice, it can become a real talent that sets you apart from your peers.Sales, HR, marketing, IT, finance negotiating is used across departments to estimate and get the maximum value out of every task. The trick lies in listening to the other point of view and getting to an agreement where bothall parties are equally happy a true win-win situation.


Middle managers require proficiency in this skill as they deal with `egos’, both above and below their management level.They have to ensure the goals set by their seniors are achieved while getting the most out of their teams. This requires that they exercise both creative and analytical solutions. Employees who can do this will discover that it is easier to rise in the ranks without stirring up resentment and in fact, have people rooting for your success. Organisations find these employees invaluable in many different types of situations as they can turn challenges into opportunity.


The various attributes of a good leader have been discussed time and again with the key traits being role-modelling, vision-setting, motivating others, accountability and most importantly developing future leaders at the workplace. Every organisation wants inspirational leaders and most leading companies strategically develop certain people towards bigger roles, but it is also up to an employee to take ownership and find situations where they can use their strengths and demonstrate resourcefulness.

The author is chairperson and MD, Dale Carnegie Training India

Source : The Economic Times

Date : 13-01-2015

The Startup Addiction Shonali.Advani

Having built and sold businesses once, entrepreneurs are coming back for second and subsequent helpings, unable to resist the sweet taste of starting up, finds Shonali Advani
Thriving more on chaos than order as they hunt for the next new thing serial entrepreneurs, those who build companies, sell, and begin anew ¬ are emerging as a prominent feature of India’s startup boom.
Sought after by investors for the real-life experience they bring to the table, these entrepreneurs are riding on the easy availability of risk capital, lower cost of starting up and the wide network of support from mentors and advisors to keep returning to the fray .
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart and love chaos,“ said Vishal Gondal, CEO and founder, GOQii.
The 38-year-old, one of India’s prolific serial entrepreneurs, earlier sold his gaming company IndiaGames for an estimated $100 million to Walt Disney Company in 2012, where he served as managing director at Digital, Disney UTV till 2013, post the buy-out.
But finding it tame to be bound to a desk, he moved out quickly to set up GOQii, in the space of advanced wearable technology.
Gondal is one of dozens of such entrepreneurs who are coming back to the startup game after having built and sold companies in sectors ranging from technology to healthcare, consumer internet and mobility .
Experts are of the view that experienced entrepreneurs stand a better chance of attracting investor attention as well as drawing in employees and mentors when they return to startup once more. “It is definitely one of the factors that we look at, especially if the entrepreneur has worked with us before or a team that has done some notable company in the past,“ said Subrata Mitra, Partner, Accel Partners, that has backed 20 serial entrepreneurs of the total 70 investments in its portfolio and is best known in India for being the first to invest in Flipkart. A keenness to dive into rough and tumble of entrepreneurship is also led by several factors that now define Indian entrepreneurship, with at least two new startups launched every day . Money is also plentiful. Last year, venture capitalists invested about $2.1 billion, increasing by half the amount invested in 2013, according to research firm VCCEdge.
In such an environment, “past entrepreneurial experience (particularly success) is seen as a signal of quality ,“ said Ramakrishna Velamuri, a professor at the China Europe International Business School.
Investors who are tracking this trend up close believe the greater flow of venture capital has made it possible to build companies faster. For instance, a decade ago, it may have taken 50 years to build large businesses. “Today things happen in ten years and has become serial ¬ the era of conglomerates is over,“ said Rehan Yar Khan, managing partner at Orios Venture Partners.
Prior experience brings with it a high premium in such a market. “Returning serial entrepreneurs are prized in the market. It is like a cook adding another dish to his repertoire,“ said Khan, who has backed ventures started by serial entrepreneurs including online lingerie company PrettySecrets and software product company Sapience Analytics.
One of India’s best-known serial entrepreneurs is Krishnan Ganesh, currently on his fifth company Portea Medical, a home healthcare services company , which has scaled to 30,000 patient visits a month across 18 cities on the back of 1,200 employees.
Ganesh likens his interest in starting up repeatedly to a gardener who chooses to plant seeds in a nursery , in contrast to a gardener who chooses to buy saplings, grow the trees and harvest its fruit. “I don’t enjoy being an orchard gardener, the skill sets are different,“ said the 53-year-old, who said that in eve ry business he has launched in the last five years, the operating mantra has been to build, scale and exit.
“Indian entrepreneurs are learning from Silicon Valley and some are bettering it,“ said Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Stanford Law School and director of research at Duke University .
Apart from setting out to create game-changing ideas, such people attract cream of talent from the market. “Lots of people have great ideas but the sheer scale and pace at which he (Ganesh) implements is very different,“ said Arun Kumar, vicepresident, sales and marketing at Portea, who joined the company after having worked with Ganesh at TutorVista. He earlier worked at IT majors IBM Consulting, Infosys and Sonata.
Serial entrepreneurs also find it easy to transfer learnings from one venture and build on established networks of clients and investors to gain a head start in a fiercely competitive market.
“A significant part of my investors and my leadership team are people who I have worked with in my earlier venture in some form or the other,“ said Madan Padaki, co-founder and CEO, Head Held High Services. His prior venture MeritTrac Services was sold to Manipal Global Education Services in 2007, where he served as Head of Strategy and Incubation till March 2013.
Acutely fixated to create something new and move on quickly to the next, serial entrepreneurs are described as “manic depressive“ by human resource expert Hari Iyer, head of operations, Ephicacy and human resource professional who has worked with 11 startups.
Gondal admits this himself. “I get my high in terms of creating something new and taking up a new challenge. I’m not someone who finds comfort in processes and systems,“ he

Source : The Economic Times
Date: 9th Jan 2015

Towers Watson Signs JV with Metis Insurance Brokers – Rica Bhattacharyya Mumbai:

Global professional services company Towers Watson has forayed into the benefits brokerage space in India by entering into a joint venture partnership with Metis Insurance Brokers, which specialises in providing solutions in employee benefits to corporations.
“We only own a minority percentage…we can only be a 26% owner in the business in the insurance part, and hope to go up to 49%,“ Gene Wickes, global managing director for benefits line of business at Towers Watson, told ET.
Metis is a direct insurance broker that provides solutions in employee benefits, primarily health, disability , life and overseas travel to corporates. Towers Watson helps organisations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management.
With 15,000 associates around the world, Towers Watson offers consulting, technology and solutions in areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management.
“We want to help our clients on two fronts -one is to ensure that we get the best value in terms of insurance cover and doing that in a very transparent way .And secondly , helping them tackle the issues of wellness in the organisation,“ said Andrew Heard,MD for Towers Watson’s benefit business in Asia Pacific.
As part of the Towers Watson Benefits Trends Survey 2013, it asked more than a 1,000 clients across A-Pac about the top 3 benefits that their employees valued. In every country , retirement and health were the top-most valued benefits.

Source : The Economics Times
Date : 9th Jan 2015

FUNNY BUSINESS – The 9-to-5 is Dead

“Anything interesting in this world,“ said Steve Jobs (and he meant in the business world), “is done by a mad man on a mission. Everybody else who works for him just spends his money .“

In India’s working world, there are two parts. The entrepreneurs, the thinkers, visionaries, the people you see at this leadership summit or that conclave who never stop working. And then there are there many employees who work for them. Who seem like they do nothing.

This may sound harsh, but it’s not their fault. The fundamental definition of work has changed.

Since the invention of the steam engine, we’ve kind of worked out a ritual for `work’: 9-to-5. From a blue-collar work ethic, relevant in the era of operating machines or making cars by hand. Certain cultures had, and continue to have, variations making them leaders in leisure.

The French made it illegal to do work beyond 40 hours a week andgetting a work email past 5 pm was punishable by law. Bless them. The Scandinavians have eight weeks paid leave. Mandatory . You get punished for not taking it. Where I’m from, the office hours are aptly summed up in a Noel Coward song, which says, “In Bengal, to move at all, is hardly ever done.“

I mention all of this to make the following claim: that the ideaof 9-to-5 is dead. Buried. Doesn’t mean anything anymore. We’re always working and not working at the same time in some mad balanced equilibrium of entiredays of procrastination mixed with Red Bull-fuelled all-nighters to meet deadlines mixed with gossip, socialising, increments, resigning, all in a melting pot that is the 24-hour (`I’ve got a smartphone’) modern office.

An HR person explained: “There aren’t any working hours. Emails come and go anytime. As do texts. Meetings happen at 10 pm and turn into drinks. And there are no real lines anymore between colleagues and friends.Everyone is messaging everyone on Whatsapp or SMS. Everyone’s sharing photos and on Facebook. Your aunt is befriending the boss’s boss and calling him cute. There aren’t secrets and walls between a personal life and a professional life. You are discussing with a potential advertiser the benefits of your TV channel one minute and doing shots with her the next.“

I happened to walk through a few corporate office floors in Mumbai recently and this is mostly what I saw on everyone’s laptop: Facebook, Instagram, more Facebook, vacation photos, funny YouTube videos, Make My Trip for future vacations, yet more Facebook, one lone Excel spreadsheet (probably calculating that person’s salary or increment), Amazon JabongFlipkart shopping, more YouTube funny videos (cat trimming fingernails).

No one was doing any actual `hard work’. That’s not true. Looking busy when you are really shopping or planning a vacation is hard work.

When I asked the boss, she said this was her most productive andefficient team. That made no sense. These looked like a bunch of people loafing on the company’s money .

She explained, “Look at traffic in Indian cities. It is impossible to go anywhere when office should technically be over. So all these kids ­ and most workplaces have young people ­ just waste loads of time drinking coffee, smoking, complaining about this or that (mostly their pay), gossip about petty jealousies and what others are doing and, ultimately , get down to work at 6 pm when technically they should be going home.

“So it looks like they are working really hard but really , they’ve just wasted the day . Which is why Google and Facebook call their office campuses, have ping-pong tables and free cafeterias ­ so that youngpeople can be there all night, work and waste time simultaneously .

In the old days, work was boring because there were desks and files and people read things and wrote things and signed things on those files. Work was simple. Just work. You worked hard, got promoted. The file didn’t have a link to a cat video or a photo of a cupcake. It was just a boring (non downloadable) file.

Today’s employee is working on her laptop in one window, buying a pair of shoes in the second, liking a friends’ Sri Lanka vacation photos in the third, having a disagreement over the family Whatsapp group regarding a relative’s wedding present in the fourth, watching trailers, downloading entire TV shows, perusing a flat to rent, and is the top performer beating all targets.

Welcome to the 21st century

Source: The Economic Times

Date: January 8, 2015

FACELIFT FOR RSBY – Govt Shuts Doors on Private Insurers in Swasthya Bima Plan

Several states are against i the move that could rob s insurance firms of biz worth thousands of crores

India’s flagship state-run health insurance programme for the poor, which has been held up as a model for the rest of the world by the World Bank and United Nations, could be under threat as the Modi government is looking to end the involvement of private insurance companies in the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana or RSBY.

This is set to happen in the next few months as part of the shift to a direct benefit model from one mediated by insurance firms in a bid to provide health insurance for all. It comes at a time when the government has liberalized foreign direct investment limits in insurance via emergency decree.

The move could mean insurance companies won’t be able to get any part of the thousands of crores of rupees that would potentially come into the business, considering the scale of RSBY’s planned expansion, according to industry estimates. Themove has been opposed by several states, a senior government official told ET. Besides, starting April 1, the scheme will be run by the health ministry, which will be responsible for disbursement of funds and monitoring implementation. It’s currently handled by labour ministry.

“A decision to this effect has been jointly taken by the ministry of labour, ministry of health and department of financial services under the ministry of finance despite resistance from several states,“ he said.

According to the official, who did not want to be identified, the Centre has asked all states to end contracts with insurance companies by March 31 and instead set up a trust that would run the scheme, along the lines of what Andhra Pradesh has done. “This has led to confusion as not many states have the expertise and human resources to do enrollment and empanelment with hospitals throughtrusts,“ the official cited above said. In such cases, the Centre will insist states rope in public sector insurance companies until state nodal units can take over.

ICICI Lombard, Max Bupa Health Insurance, Religare Health Insurance, Cholamandalam MS General Insurance and Tata AIG GIC are some of the many private companies that have been enrolling and empanelling hospitals as well as providing insurance to beneficiaries under RSBY. “This could be the beginning of end of the muchcelebrated RSBY model as it strikes at the root of the programme,“ said a health economist at an international financial institution. “Insurance companies had an incentive to enroll more families as premium depended on it.“

RSBY has been praised by the World Bank and UN Development Programme. Studies have shown that it has significantly reduced out-of-pocket expenditure on health among the below poverty line (BPL) population covered under the scheme. “A primary factor behind premium cost significantly slipping for government under RSBY was competition among insurance companies,“ said the person cited above. “Also, a handful of states may be running tertiary healthcare programmes directly, but none to my knowledge run a sec ondary healthcare program without involving insurance companies. That is because the number of people claiming benefits under secondary healthcare programs is much higher.“

“Reviling insurance companies for being-for-profit entities is fine, we also need to take an objective look at capacities of government agencies,“ it said.

Representatives of private insurance firms declined to speak on record. On condition of anonymity, they said RSBY would crumble under the system that was being proposed.

A senior private insurance executive said,“Every state would have to convert its government agency into a health insurer, which would have to do actuarial calculations, anticipate claims and create a corpus, not an easy capability to develop.“ A colleague of his added: “We are at least regulated by IRDA. Who will regulate these trusts?“

Source : Economic Times

Date : 06-01-2015