PolicyBazaar is an Indian insurance aggregator and multinational financial technology company based in Gurugram, India. Launched in 2008, it's single handily transformed the Indian insurance market by offering a transparent online platform for insurance buyers to quickly and easily compare different insurance policies. This August, it announced its plans to launch an IPO, becoming the latest in a long line of Indian tech companies to go the same route. Find out more with these 20 things you didn't know about PolicyBazaar.
1. It's multi-award wining
Since its inception, PolicyBazaar has been winning awards left, right, and center. As per Wikipedia, just a small selection of its awards include: AMAI Indian Digital Awards for best financial website 2015, Exchange4media Golden Mikes Award 2015, CMO Asia Awards 2015, Award for Best Mobile App Consumer Finance in 2015 by GSF Mobile Appies, Best Insurance Tech - IAMAI India Digital Awards 2018, Leading Fintech Innovator in India - KPMG-H2 Ventures Report, Insurance Innovation Award 2018 - The Digital Insurer Global Livefest Award, and Best Consumer Awareness Campaign - Silver -Economic Times Brand Equity Kaleido Award 2019.
2. It got slapped with a ₹24 lakh fine
In 2020, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) slapped PolicyBazaar with a hefty ₹24 lakh fine after one of its SMS ads fell foul of IRDAI regulations. According to The India Times, the ad, which read “life insurance prices are set to increase from 1st April (2020), save up to Rs.1.65 lakh by buying a term plan now”, was deemed as “having potential to cause avoidable panic among customers”. Along with the fine, the IRDAI warned the startup to be more “circumspect” in the future.
3. It's raised over $700M in funding
PolicyBazaar's backers clearly have confidence in its potential. According to CrunchBase, the start-up has raised a mammoth $766.6 million over 13 funding rounds since launching. Their latest funding came by way of a private equity round in May 2021. The round, which was led by Falcon Edge Capital, raised $75 million with a post-money valuation north of $2 billion.
4. It's planning an IPO
Speculation has been rife for years about whether PolicyBazaar will launch an initial public offering. This August, it put the rumors to rest when it became the latest in a long line of Indian technology startups to file to go public. According to nasdaq.com, it's offering to raise up to 60.2 billion rupees (approx. $810M) from the sale of new and existing shares on a mooted valuation of $5 billion. The valuation suggests the company will trade at 42 times operation revenue for the next financial year, a figure that compares to 11 times for its direct competitor TQM.
5. It was founded in 2008
Back in 2001, Yashish Dahiya was working at the European travel comparison portal EBookers. At the time, the Indian insurance industry was chaotic, lacking in transparency and ruled by the agents who controlled the majority of policy sales. After teaming up with three of his colleagues, Alok Bansal, Jerry Bhutia and Avaneesh Nirja, Dahiya began to consider whether they could create an insurance comparison portal that worked along the same lines as Ebookers. Apparently they could, as seven years later, PolicyBazaar was launched on the unsuspecting Indian insurance market. Initially, the company began as a web aggregator and comparison website for insurance products. “There were about 12 to 15 general insurance companies and another 15 life insurance companies. There were about 150 to 200 insurance products for a consumer to choose from. How do you choose the right product? All we did was create a comparison or a chart,” Bhutia has since said.
6. Its CEO is Sarbvir Singh
From 2008 to 2019, PolicyBazaar's co-founder, Yashish Dahiya, served as its CEO. In December 2019, Dahiya stepped down from the position and Sarbvir Singh stepped into his shoes. Prior to joining PolicyBazaar, Singh served as the Managing Partner at WaterBridge Ventures. He's also served in numerous executive positions with Emerson Electric, Citi Bank, HomeShop 18, Network 18, and JP Morgan Private Equity Group, in addition to co-founding the venture capital firm Hercules Capital. Since relinquishing the post, Dahiya has served as the group CEO of PolicyBazaar's parent company, ETechAces Marketing and Consulting Private Limited
7. Its parent company is ETechAces Marketing and Consulting Private Limited
PolicyBazaar's parent group is ETechAces Marketing and Consulting Private Limited. The group operates numerous platforms covering the financial, insurance, health care and service sectors. In addition to PolicyBazaar, the group operates Paisabazaar, a financial advisory and digital lending platform that, over the past three years, has become the largest marketplace platform for lending produce, disbursing $1.5 billion worth of loans annually; Docprime, an online medical services provider with a mission to make healthcare affordable, transparent, and accessible; and Quickfixcars, a car service provider.
8. Sanjeev Bikhchandani wrote its first cheque
PolicyBazaar's first backer was the renowned Indian businessman and founder of Info Edge, Sanjeev Bikhchandani. He was convinced to invest after Yashish Dahiya made a wager with him that he was paying 60 percent more for his car insurance than he needed to. Bikhchandani asked for a demo on the prototype Dahiya had made, and saw that he was right. Impressed by both the product and the team, he handed over ₹20 crore in seed money, one of the largest investments Info Edge had ever made at that point.
9. It's achieved Unicorn status
In June 2018, Japan’s SoftBank Group led an investment round of $238 million. The funding, which included $200 million in primary investments and $38 million in secondary investments, pushed PolicyBazaar's valuation north of $1 billion, propelling it to unicorn status. Over the past few years, the number of Indian start-ups to achieve unicorn status has grown exponentially, but PolicyBazaar was the first to win the label in the insurance sector. Not that its owners are very pleased about the situation - speaking to entrepreneur.com, group CEO Dahiya explained that the label has proved more of a hindrance than a help, heaping extra attention on them in what's already a highly political industry. “Ever since we have become a Unicorn, the number of complaints against us, not from customers but from the industry players, has increased dramatically,” he's claimed.
10. It's disrupting the insurance game
When PolicyBazaar's founders decided to establish the company, they had one goal: to disrupt the Indian insurance market. At the time, the market was blighted by misselling and low uptake of pure life and health insurance products. PolicyBazaar aimed to change that. Launching a new business during the recession of 2007 - 2008 may have intimated others, but PolicyBazaar's founders were so convinced of the value of their offering, they weren't deterred. “We thought there's a whole industry which has a major communication problem. Wrong products are going to the consumer and the reach of the right product—which is protection against death, disease, and disability—is very limited. It was too big a problem to worry about whether it's a downturn or an upturn. The idea was clear and we had to implement it,” Dahiya has recalled.
11. It's experienced massive growth
Since its launch, PolicyBazaar has experienced financial recessions, pandemics, and major changes in the regulations governing marketing and selling insurance. Yet despite the upheavals, it's grown steadily and significantly. These days, it occupies a 93.4% market share based on the number of policies sold. 65.3% of all digital insurance sales in India by volume are sold through its platform. Last year alone, it recorded 126 million unique visits to its website. In 2018, it broke even for the first time - it slipped into losses in 2019, but promises to turn a profit again this year.
12. It changed its business model in 2011
From 2008 to 2011, PolicyBazaar made its money from ad revenue and lead generation revenue. And then the insurance watchdog Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) weighed into the matter and said that digital providers couldn't display any products without having a contract with the insurer. It also banned reviews or recommendations. The repercussions for PolicyBazaar were devastating. Revenue streams came down to around 2 percent of what they'd been before the ruling, forcing the company to reevaluate its offering. Determined to keep the business going, its founders decided to switch from a comparison site to a sales business. According to Dahiya, the new rules were goaded by an invested interest in the industry to maintain the status quo and by multiple interests who saw PolicyBazaar's policy of allowing customers to make informed decisions as a threat.
13. It's experienced major struggles
After the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India decided to change the rules regulating the sale of insurance products, PolicyBazaar struggled to survive. Even its investors thought that pushing against the tide was useless and asked them to give up. But they persisted, eventually becoming an even bigger force to be reckoned with than they were before.“I think of micro-regulation as chemotherapy. It destroys everybody but makes the one who survives very strong,” Dahiya has explained to Forbes. In the end, the insurance regulator came round to their way of thinking and removed many of the obstacles hindering PolicyBazaar's growth.
14. It's got some stiff competition
As Forbes India notes, when PolicyBazaar launched, it wasn't a completely novel concept Numerous companies, including EBookers, had built successful businesses along the same lines. At the time, however, none of them were working in the insurance sector. That's now changed. In the years between PolicyBazaar's launch and now, several other startups have taken a stab at the market, including CoverFox, a venture founded in 2012 by IIT-Bombay alumni Devendra Rane and Varun Dua, and EasyPolicy, the Ronnie Screwvala-backed insurance comparison website founded in 2011. According to Max Life Insurance director and chief digital officer, Manik Nangia, however, PolicyBazaar has the edge, with “larger numbers and more engaged customer conversations enabled by a deeper understanding of the category and the customer.”
15. It's still facing challenges
When the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India clamped down on the rules regulating the sale of insurance products, PolicyBazaar faced a major challenge. Those regulations may since have been amended, but it's not out of the woods just yet. Insurance penetration in India is still incredibly low, with Irda data putting life insurance at 2.72 percent and general insurance at 0.72 percent. Door-to-door selling still continues, and the number of other insurance aggregators on the market has also increased. But PolicyBazaar has a plan. “Today, consumers are far more aware. We have to keep reinventing ourselves and become the drivers of the digital transformation in the industry,” Dahiya has said.
16. It launched its mobile app in 2015
Seven years after its launch, PolicyBazaar went from an online concept to a mobile one when it launched an app for both Android and iOS platforms. As well as allowing customers to search, compare, and buy insurance, the app also offers a host of other features, including claim assistance, instant renewal of insurance policies, insurance premium calculator, and hospital and garage locator.
17. It has over 10000 employees
Since its launch in 2008, PolicyBazaar has expanded at an astronomical rate. It now employs over 10000 people and plans to expand its workforce even further. According to Glassdoor, most of its employees are reasonably happy with the way the company is going - as well as scoring a very reasonable 3.5 out of 5 in overall satisfaction, 61 percent of its employees would recommend it to a friend and 83 percent approve of its CEO.
18. It offers a wide range of products
If PolicyBazaar hasn't already tapped into an insurance product, it's not an insurance product that's worth knowing about. The company covers the full spectrum of insurance products, including life insurance, general insurance, health insurance, car insurance, retirement plans, child plans, investment plans, travel insurance, two-wheeler insurance, critical illness insurance, personal accident, home insurance, group insurance, property insurance, workmen compensation, liability insurance, professional indemnity, and directors and officers liability insurance; personal, education, home, and car loans; and credit cards and miscellaneous products.
19. It's got some big-name investors
Ever since Info Edge showed its faith in PolicyBazaar by writing its first-ever cheque, investors have been leaping on board left, right and center. Some of the biggest names to put their money where their mouth is include SoftBank Group's Vision Fund, Tiger Global Management, and Tencent Holdings
20. It's expanded into UAE
After starting life as a purely Indian concern, PolicyBazaar slowly began to increase its global footprint by expanding operations into the United Arab Emirates. Further to its most recent funding round in May 2021, it now plans to gain a further foothold in the UAE market by scaling five times in size and scale over the next 12 to 18 months.
Written by Allen Lee
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