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    Medical cover sales turn lifeline for online insurance firms

    Synopsis

    Startups introduce health insurance covers for retail and group customers, tilting the overall segment mix towards this category.

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    The strategic realignment comes at a time when muted automobile sales and restriction on international and domestic travel have affected their core business.
    Mumbai: New-age digital insurance startups are betting on increased demand for medical insurance, to tide over the pandemic-induced slowdown, which has impacted most segments of the insurance industry.

    Prominent players in the space - including Prem Watsa-backed Go Digit, as well as Acko - have introduced health insurance covers for retail and group customers, to tilt the segment mix towards the category, senior executives of these companies told ET.

    The strategic realignment comes at a time when muted automobile sales and restriction on international and domestic travel have affected their core business. Data sourced from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) shows that Digit's new premiums fell 27.53% in the motor segment in April and May, while premium collection was down 18% in the period for Acko.

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    At the same time, Sachin Bansal-owned Navi Technology's new premium in the auto segment fell almost 81% against last year. Overall, new motor premiums shrunk by 35% for the insurance industry while health insurance grew 7.5%, data from the sector regulator showed.

    "We realised very early that health would be a lucrative segment for growth," said Vivek Chaturvedi, chief marketing officer, Go Digit. "We were the first ones in the industry to launch a Covid-19 product under the sandbox route in February itself. In April and May, we also launched variants of group and retail health policies."

    Go Digit, which raised $84 million last year, is valued at $870 million.

    The company's new underwritten premiums for health insurance in the first two months of the fiscal year jumped more than 10 times against last year, as per Irda data.

    Meanwhile, Acko is also in the process of launching two new health insurance products with one targeted as early as next month.

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