Sapna Desai is Head- Marketing and Communication at ManipalCigna Health Insurance. At ManipalCigna, she is responsible for developing and implementing the overall Marketing and consumer value proposition strategy to drive the growth agenda for the organization. She leads the Consumer Insights, Brand Strategy and Media, Corporate Communication, Business Activations and Digital Marketing functions.
ManipalCigna Health insurance Company Limited (Formerly known as Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company Limited) is a joint venture between Manipal Group, an eminent player in the field of healthcare delivery and higher education in India, Cigna Corporation, a global health services company with over 200 years of experience and Indian conglomerate TTK Group. ManipalCigna also has tie-ups with 9 leading Banks, over 30 NBFCs, MFIs and Corporate Agents for distributing health insurance solutions and has a network of over 6500 trusted hospitals across cities including tier I, tier II and tier III towns in India.
MediaNews4U spoke to Sapna Desai, Head – Marketing and Communication, ManipalCigna Health Insurance on how this sector is dealing with this Pandemic.
The lockdown has created a different kind of crisis, how is the company coping?
In times of crisis, three things become very important – connection, communication and care, and our marketing philosophy has been to be there for our customers, partners, and employees. Thus our top priority is to do all we can to protect the health and well-being of our employees, customers, partners, and our communities. These are testing times, and as per directives issued by the government all our teams are working from home, but all of us are virtually connected during this critical time to deliver on our promise to our customers.
Our robust business continuity plan enables our staff to work from home as effectively as they can in the office and ensures that our business continues seamlessly. We have also set up a cross-functional committee to monitor the health and safety of our employees and their families and the team is constantly monitoring and sharing timely advisories. Further, to provide our customers with uninterrupted essential service, we have ensured that our claims, customer service, and online policy purchase will be accessible digitally and on phone from the comfort of their homes.
As more and more people are watching TV for entertainment, are you reworking your strategy on your communications and Ad spends during this crisis?
As a brand, we want to reach the customer in the manner and medium convenient to them and offer genuine customer support and assistance where possible it is now. With social distancing and lockdowns, today people are confined to their homes and spending more time on their television and mobile phones. Thus, we are doing a lot of digital and through our owned social media assets, we are offering helpful, relevant product and service information whilst keeping the perspective of a target audience in mind.
Also, inspired by real-life customer stories, we have launched a new digital brand campaign ‘Health kes aath, Health Insurance Zaroori Hai’ to encourage people to gain a greater sense of control over their physical and financial health. The three newly launched 20 seconds videos are built on the consumer belief that people are health-wise infallible – not likely to fall sick and that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying active was all they needed to stay fit and healthy. However, the truth of the matter, is that while healthy habits do play an important role on keeping certain ailments at bay, there are some unforeseen situations like the recent outbreak of Covid-19 that can still occur and will require hospitalization, despite all the proactive efforts taken to be healthy.
Based on this consumer insight is the thought of ‘Health KeSaath, Health Insurance Zaroori Ha.’ Our three films perfectly encapsulate stories of people facing a worrying dilemma of unavoidable health situation and reinforce the fact that along with healthy habits, health insurance is essential to prepare for uncertain illnesses in the future and enhance the financial well-being.
Insurance market now during this crisis?
The health insurance industry has witnessed an overhaul in the past few years and due to the recent COVID-19 scenario and a significant increase in awareness towards the growing cost of medical expenses, the demand for health insurance policies has gone up. In a relatively under-insured market like ours, the Covid-19 crisis is likely to boost demand and growth for health insurance going forward.
At ManipalCigna our aim is to ensure that right plan is provided to the customer basis their requirement, which can get the insured adequately covered and bring a sense of financial security against the medical expenses of the future
Post lockdown what will be your priorities?
Given the gravity of the current situation and the worldwide panic surrounding it, people now, more than ever before are concerned about their health and that of their families, they’re also stressed about their finances from insurance, income, EMIs, credit cards bills to taxes. Thus, at ManipalCigna, we will continue to be committed to safeguard our customer’s health and remain true to our mission, which is to help improve their health, well-being, and peace of mind of those we serve. Also, as a responsible health insurance brand, we will proactively spread the right knowledge about insurance and work harder than ever to educate people about the importance of health insurance through various online and offline touchpoints.
In general, how are you seeing the economic situation in the country, and do you see insurance not the top priority for people?
The current Covid-19 crisis has created enormous challenges across the globe and has been hard on everyone. Also, several studies reveal that in India personal savings is the source of health care financing, with over 62% of healthcare expenditure being out of pocket and around 5% of the population are forced below the poverty line every year. Therefore, considering the growing medical inflation, and the rising infectious diseases like Covid-19, having health insurance coverage is a necessity for every individual and family. It’s important for us to be prepared in advance and a safety net of adequate health insurance coverage gives us protection against the medical expenses of the future. Meanwhile, the crisis has further reinforced the importance of having adequate health insurance and has brought home the point emphatically that insurance is essential to safeguard long-term financial goals, enjoy lifetime access to quality health care, and to live a healthier life.
In this period of lockdown, job losses around how are you connecting with people, and is insurance premium their priority?
At ManipalCigna we have taken a number of actions to support all those we serve because health insurance plays an essential role during medical contingency to take care of increasing medical expenses and protect the wealth of individuals. Hence, as a brand, we are constantly in touch with our policyholders through emails and SMS to share relevant information during these tough times.
True to our ‘customer-first’ philosophy, our team has also been focused on optimizing the customer experience and doing their best to assure customers that the brand is with them digitally 24X7 to provide uninterrupted essential service from the comfort of their homes. Further, to respond to frequently asked questions, we have released Covid-19 related information on our website for enquires and online services like premium payment, claims settlement, policy renewals, buy a policy online, etc and we are updating it on a continuous basis. Moreover, during the current outbreak, we have actually seen the relevance of health insurance as a product going up and people are preferring to renew or buy new health covers to protect against the medical expenses and gain a greater sense of control over their physical and financial health.
Are you seeing a spurt in insurance buying in this period?
Generally, every year the health insurance industry witnessed a higher growth in the sale of policies before the end of the financial year to save tax, but as compared to March 2019, the sale of health insurance policies in March 2020 has also increased marginally by 10%.
Over the last one month, we have also seen a rise in queries for health insurance covers as the number of COVID-19 positive cases started growing. I believe that this crisis will surely have a long-term positive effect on the sector due to the looming fear of uncertainty.
As a woman how are you connecting with your team members and motivating them in this period of WFH?
As a woman, as well as someone with two young daughters, I completely understand how stressful the unpredictability of the current situation can be. It’s affecting our lives in so many, and perhaps deeply personal ways. So, as a leader, I make sure that I frequently and clearly interact with my team members every day because working from home can present a unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to our physical and mental health. In this new world of work, while all of us continue to perform our job responsibilities, I also encourage my team members to be as flexible and creative as possible in coming up with a work arrangement that both meets the needs of the business and accommodates any limitations they might have due to having their children or dependents in the home. The current Covid-19 outbreak is an extremely unique situation, thus to support our employee’s health and wellbeing, we have also set up ‘DOCTOR ON CALL’ facility to access the best healthcare advice whether about Covid-19 or any other ailment. This facility has been created specifically for all the employees, including their family, and can be availed free of charge from the comfort of your home as our employee’s safety is the utmost importance to us.