MetLife India Seeks Its Way Out of the Crowd
CLIENT: MetLife India
CHALLENGE: Replace an unstable core policy administration system with a solution that supports new product launches and growth objectives and provides better auditing controls and customer support.
SOLUTION: CSC’s LIFE/Asia, the most recognized online, real-time life administration system in Asia.
RESULTS: Improved employee morale and customer service, and new product support and other robust system capabilities have lifted MetLife to the top five fastest growing insurance companies in India.
Download PDF (516 KB).
by Chris Sapardanis
With the world’s second largest population and a booming economy, India is fertile ground for business. It’s been a little more than 10 years since the country opened its insurance sector to private companies, and firms of all sizes have set up shop in this vast, mostly untapped market.
Prior to the global economic downturn, annual growth rates of around 15 percent made India the fifth largest insurance market in the world. The country’s biggest life insurance company is still owned by the Indian government, but other players are quickly garnering their own piece of this $16 billion market.
Among the two dozen major firms in India is MetLife, Inc., which through its affiliates reaches more than 70 million customers in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe. But despite being the No. 1 life insurer in the United States, the company is in the middle of the pack in India and essentially has started from scratch to build its local business.
Entering the Indian market
Incorporated in 2001 as a joint venture between MetLife International Holdings, Inc., and private investors, MetLife India is evolving into a strong brand, operating through a diversified distribution approach. It serves customers by offering a range of products to individuals and groups at more than 600 locations through its bank partners and company-owned offices staffed by more than 50,000 financial advisors.
“We’re positioned as a long-term player,” says MetLife India Managing Director Rajesh Relan. “Our vision is to be the most formidable player in the Indian life insurance industry, and to grow faster than the industry. The strategy is to clearly establish ourselves as India’s trusted life insurance specialist, with a brand that stands for peace of mind, financial strength and fair dealings with the customer.”
Upon joining the company in 2006, Relan was faced with a core policy administration system that had a number of shortcomings, including a limited ability to sell or change products, and numerous bugs, defects and auditing issues. The system, designed in Portuguese by a firm in Brazil, also lacked direct vendor support, which frustrated MetLife’s employees. In 2007, they began planning to replace it and the following year selected CSC’s LIFE/Asia software.
“LIFE/Asia was being used by some of the other large players in the country and that showed it was a best-in-class product,” Relan says. “There also was on-ground support from CSC and readily available India-specific functions.”
Launching a new legacy
Once LIFE/Asia was selected, CSC moved one million policies from the old system to the new with no major issues, giving MetLife a fully functioning and well-supported operating platform on which to grow its 140-year-old global brand in the Indian market.
LIFE/Asia has around 150 installations in nearly 40 countries. In India, LIFE/Asia has more than 50 percent of the market share among private life insurers. It helps manage all aspects of policy administration, introduces new lines of business, sets up new distribution channels and provides an architecture that enables the integration of disparate systems with an overall IT infrastructure.
The launch at MetLife India boosted employee morale. Trust was established between agents and customer service representatives and the shaky audit controls of the past were replaced by those soon noted as a best practice for the company.
“If you look at it from all stakeholders, whether it’s the employees, agents or our counterparts in the United States, there’s been a complete turnaround in thinking about MetLife India,” Relan says. “There is a general sigh of relief in terms of working with this system. The product is robust, scalable and the volume is handled. Anything that we’ve wanted to get done, like setting up new products, is much easier than it was before. All of those things give us confidence.”
Since the system went live, MetLife has ranked among the top five fastest growing insurance companies in India, according to monthly reports. Prior to LIFE/Asia, the company traditionally ranked only in the top 10.
Chris Sapardanis is a senior writer for CSC’s corporate office.