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Private general insurer Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, today announced the launch of an All Women Branch at their headquarters in Pune. As the name suggests this branch will have only women employees and will recruit and train women agents and intermediaries.
Bajaj Allianz is one of the first insurers to come up with such an initiative in the general insurance space. The branch will start its operations with a team of five women employees and have recruited 10 women agents and plans to increase it to atleast 60 agents in this fiscal.
Based on the response and success of the branch, the company plans to roll out similar branches in other metro cities soon.
"We aim to tap the vast talent pool of women professionals who had to leave their professional jobs for their family commitments. We plan to give such women an opportunity to re-start their professional career without disturbing their family priorities. If we are able to get 100 women agents through this initiative I think we can then say this is a success for us," said Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. Singhel further added that the roll-out decision will be taken in the next three to six months based on the performance of this branch.
At present the company has about 170 women agents out of the total 9000 agents and the women employee percentage in the company is around 17 per cent.
Singhel believes that the initiative taken by the company could become an industry trend. “I think general insurance industry has not taken enough efforts to increase the distribution set-up. Our distribution network is hopeless in terms of selling products. This despite the fact that the Indian GI industry has some of the best products,” he added.
At Bajaj Allianz an agent gets commission of 10 per cent on core products like motor insurance and for the other products they get 15 per cent. Singhel is aiming to take the company’s agent network to atleast 500 - 1,000 agents in at least the top 30 cities in the next three to five years.
The insurance firm is looking to tap the pool of women professionals who had taken a break due to change in their life-stages like marriage, family, and shifting of their locations. This initiative includes extending support such as crèche facilities, pick up and drop, work from home and flexible timings among others.
While women agents in insurance companies have been favoured, there have been cases of females quitting or taking a sabbatical during the maternity period. This is a similar situation like other corporate companies too and to prevent this insurers are taking various structured steps to retain the female talent. These programmes not just help new mothers to balance their family and careers, but also help women who want the option of flexi-timing.
Life insurers have also taken initiatives to tap female agents.
Tata AIA Life Insurance has earlier launched an initiative called 'Fenomena', wherein they offered a career opportunity for women with the convenience of flexi timing. Further, Max Life runs a programme called 'Avenues' that helps women convert from a four hour working schedule per day to a full time working employee.
Similarly, Reliance Life has introduced a women-centric distribution channel called Face-to-Face with a view to servicing orphan customers and providing post-sales service to policyholders.
Women-focussed initiatives have also been observed in other financial services segments like banking. Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB), India’s first all women’s bank was recently launched in Mumbai. The country's first commercial bank for women, BMB aims to achieve economic empowerment of Indian women especially in the non-urban areas.