Interview with Faisal Abbasi, CEO, TPL Life
- Tell us about yourself and your journey to being the CEO of TPL Life?
I set out to become an electrical engineer, but along the way got drawn to the Actuarial profession, due to my love for numbers. That was the turning point for me joining the life insurance industry in 1997.
My 24 year career, so far, has been a package of diversified experiences including Actuarial Consultancy, Banking and Life Insurance. My multifaceted experience in all critical areas of business including Distribution, Underwriting, Product Development, Marketing, Operations and Training helped me a lot in shaping up TPL Life as a trendsetting company in its domain.
The journey with TPL Life started in May 2016 as its first employee. It has been exciting and full of action to say the least. Being the first true Insurtech in the country comes with its own challenges. Both consumers and service providers were used to certain type of services and practices. Coming up with new concepts, processes and creating acceptability while disrupting the market was not an easy task.
By the grace of Almighty TPL Life is now set to become a path breaking entity which offers unique and never-experienced-before propositions for public at large. We are here to ensure insurance protection reaches everyone and should not only be limited to a certain consumer segment.
- TPL Life is a relatively new Company in the Life Insurance market. What sets the Company and Services apart from the rest?
At TPL Life, we continuously strive to introduce groundbreaking customer-centric ideas and products. This is evident from our list of ‘firsts’: an example being our Covid Protection Plan, which was the first in this market, later replicated by the competition.
Pakistan’s insurance landscape is ripe for digital solutions and diversification in retail product offerings. TPL Life is poised to address these gaps in our market, as we love to challenge ourselves and the status quo!
- We’d like to know more about the premise behind TPL Life being, and I quote – ‘the easiest company to deal with’?
During the early days, we did a fair amount of consumer and market research with respect to the insurance industry. The overwhelming response was that people wanted easier protocols and processes from their insurance companies.
So we built TPL Life around a central ethos of being the easiest company to talk to and deal with. We want this mindset to be an integral part of all our processes and customer dealings, breaking a general negative perception about dealing with insurance companies.
Furthermore, technology is bridging the gap between consumers and providers. Insurance industry also has to be up there when it comes to fulfilling expectations and have a satisfactory customer experience.
To that end, we are continuously tweaking our digital assets with new service features giving our customers complete control over their choices. Our in-app usage based insurance offering allows customer to turn on their insurance and switch it off as per their choice and get charged for only the time their insurance was on.
- With several options for insurance coverage in the market, why should one have TPL Life cover in hand?
As a consumer, if you are looking for customized life and health insurance solutions, smart operations and 24/7 availability then you should consider TPL Life as your primary service provider.
Insurance is no more a legacy product. It is getting smarter with the consumer. With instant gratification being the new norm, this generation is shifting from long term assets to short term commitments, and there’s nothing better than a short term insurance product covering those liabilities or risks.
- About 52% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 25. Why should they spend on your products and services? What advice would you give to this generation in terms of choosing insurance as a risk hedging tool.
With passing times, unfortunately, the health profile of our population is deteriorating. Cardiac issues, diabetes and cancer is reported to be setting in earlier than they used to be. I have personally seen people in their 30s diagnosed with diabetic conditions leading to heart related complications. These alarming health complications demand our youth to be vary of complications such situations bring.
So you have to have life and health insurance, starting from your late 20s or early 30s. Timely arrangements of health and life insurance not only saves hassle later on, but also enables you to get coverage at a cheaper price. The younger you are, the cheaper your current and future rates would be.
- You recently shared that TPL Life crossed its 1 billion premium mark. What made you and the team achieve this in a short span of time, that too during a Pandemic?
With well-coordinated teamwork and dedication from our employees, we clocked our first billion in gross premium in 2020. Ground situation was tough, retail market was literally at halt during the pandemic, but our frontend teams showed complete resolve and determination.
Being digital helped us a lot in our operations and acquisition processes. We did not stop for a second, our call center services were continuously up and operations were functioning remotely without compromising on pace. Being out there for our customers was our prime focus during the lockdown.
- Covid19 has changed the way people and businesses function, tell us the impact, negative and positive the pandemic brought about at your Company?
I always say that all situations are a learning opportunity, so I don’t dwell on the negatives.
But the pandemic did bring some positives. We learnt to operate remotely while maintaining the same efficiency and customer service levels.
Developing an eye for unforeseeable events (and dealing with them quickly) was one skill which we, as leaders, were forced to develop if we wanted to survive in a pandemic hit economy.
With enhanced coordination, we were adept at coping with all the challenges that were thrown our way. Kudos to our team who also rose to the challenge and adapted their working style as per the requirements of time.
- Where do you see TPL Life in the next 5 and 10 years?
I clearly see ourselves as a frontrunner in Insurtech with a sizeable customer base, becoming a company known for its innovation, smart solutions and customer centric approach.
- What would you say to people who choose to stay away from insurance products?
No matter how hard you ignore or downplay insurance, at least once in your life you (or your loved ones) will feel “if we had insurance, the situation would be different’. Trust me, that’s not a good zone to be in. Avoid it, get insurance cover for yourself and for your loved ones. Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
- What in your opinion, is TPL Life’s biggest achievement to date?
Our biggest achievement is our portfolio of more than 700k covered lives, who are now availing our services. This includes more than 150k customers belonging to segments which are traditionally overlooked, and are a focus of private and public financial inclusion programmes.
We have helped thousands of families with their medical emergencies and financial assistance when their loved ones have passed away.Nothing is more gratifying than seeing children continuing their education and a household running as usual after they are hit by a tragedy or medical situation. We want to remain their bridge to prosperity forever.