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Bajaj Allianz....

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  • November 2010
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Vikas Gupta joined Bajaj Allianz close to a year ago. The 26-year-old was entrusted with setting up an office for the life insurance major in Itarsi, a small town in Madhya Pradesh [ Images ]. Gupta was in charge of finding a suitable location, negotiating the rent, buying the furniture and even hiring a couple of junior managers to work for him. He's now got four sales managers reporting to him, who in turn supervise a team of agents. It's not the way most insurance companies in India [ Images ] have grown, but small towns and local recruits are the major planks of Bajaj Allianz's distribution strategy. Having discovered that even the smallest towns can prove rich catchment areas, the insurance company is spreading out rapidly into the interiors. In just about five years, it has rolled out one of the biggest networks in the industry: at present, Bajaj Allianz has around 900 offices across the country, compared with around 330 for market leader ICICI [ Get Quote ] Prudential. Before the year is out, it will have more than 1,000 offices covering 586 districts, up from the current 450. Bajaj Allianz will be the first private sector insurance player to have a presence in towns like Akola in Chhattisgarh and Uluberia in West Bengal [ Images ]. "We want to be a mass brand and that's why we're looking at a large footprint. Of course, a geographical spread helps derisk the model, which is particularly important for insurance. Today we earn our premia almost equally from each of the four regions," says Sanjay Jain, marketing head, Bajaj Allianz. Still, why so many offices? Jain explains that in the insurance business a physical presence is critical. "People need to know we're going to be around, because insurance is a long-term product where the money is paid out after 15 or 20 years." An office, however small, is a reassuring sign, he adds. Which is why the company has a presence even in towns where the population is less than 50,000, pleasantly surprised by the...

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