“I am a firm believer in the value of human capital” – Patrick Alwis, Managing Director/ CEO of Ceylinco General Insurance

Patrick Alwis commenced his professional career in 1979 with Hatton National Bank, going on to join the marketing team at Unilever Sri Lanka in 1983 and later on as Marketing Manager at Richard Pieris and Company. His tryst with Ceylinco Insurance happened in 1990 when he came onboard as a Regional Manager. Rapidly rising up the hierarchy, Patrick was appointed to the Board in 2001 and anointed Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Ceylinco General Insurance in 2015.  

A firm believer in the value of human capital to an organization’s success, he says that his 4,000-strong team is the greatest asset of the company and commends their commitment and dedication as key to the unprecedented heights the company has reached. Patrick believes that when employees are happy and satisfied, the service levels offered by them also rise proportionately, resulting in customers being treated with a par excellence in service. All staff members are given equal opportunity for career progression in the company irrespective of their race, religion, background or any other socioeconomic criteria. They are evaluated bi-annually through a Performance Management Information System (PMIS). 

Patrick elaborates on how Ceylinco General Insurance takes care of its employees:

 “No staff retrenchments and no salary cuts were made even during the height of the lockdown. Team members reporting to work were provided with transport from their doorstep to ensure an extremely safe working environment. Most of the staff members were given all the support and facilities to work from home. Further, in October last year, we paid a special performance bonus to our staff – the lowest being 70% of the salary. This was in addition to the usual annual bonus of three months’ paid in December. We look after not only our employees but also their dependents in every possible way, financially, as well as their health and well-being.”  

In addition, clear cut policies have been formulated to look after the staff by providing financial assistance over and above the health insurance scheme at the time of illness for staff and their dependents; a staff retirement policy with special benefits for those retiring after long years of service; and financial assistance at a time of distress etc    

Ceylinco General Insurance is the market leader for general insurance in Sri Lanka, with the largest network of branches and a sales force belonging to the permanent cadre of over 1,900. It has served the people of the nation with the finest in innovative insurance products and services for over 30 years. Its product offerings range from the smallest to the most complex corporate insurance covers that offer protection to major projects in Sri Lanka as well as products that offer benefits even globally.  

According to Patrick, the uniqueness of Ceylinco General Insurance is its policy in settling claims in the speediest possible manner. “Our approach to settling claims is very flexible and a system-driven process. At Ceylinco, settling a claim is much easier than rejecting one! If a claim is rejected, three Directors have to approve it. On a regular basis, we re-visit all these processes and make improvements. When claims are settled On The Spot, no documents are needed. Even in complex situations, we ask for minimum number of documents,” Patrick adds.

Ceylinco General Insurance is a company that adapts quickly to any situation, and always strives to make the most of any challenging situation. The company provided uninterrupted services even during the lockdowns and curfew periods, bringing relief to the affected. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company introduced the ‘Ceylinco VIP Drive Thru Claims’, a unique facility offered to Ceylinco VIP customers who have not obtained On the Spot claims due to various reasons (such as the owner not being available at the time of the accident or in the event the vehicle is under a leasing facility.) Now, all a customer has to do is just drive in, pick up their claim via cash or cheque and leave in no time at all, and with no hassle.

Explaining further, he says that the industry has not been affected to a large degree due to the pandemic. However, the import restrictions imposed by the government has impacted the industry to some extent. “About 65% of the insurance industry comprises motor insurance. Therefore, import restrictions pose a big challenge to the industry. Marine Insurance has also been affected due to the import restrictions. If the adverse effect on travel and tourism  sectors continues for a considerable period, this could also have an adverse effect on the industry,” he emphasizes. 

“While import restrictions have taken us a fair hit, our proactive solutions have been able to minimize the impact to a great extent. Our service excellence continues to attract new clients regardless of the difficult macro environment.”

Speaking about digital marketing in the Insurance industry, Patrick mentions that Ceylinco Insurance will focus more on digital marketing as it offers immense cost benefits in comparison to traditional channels whilst increasing penetration. “Many insurance companies are trying to capture large databases which are being held by the mobile operators as well as supermarket chains. In Sri Lanka, there are 30 million mobile connections for 21 million people; almost every citizen has one or two mobile connections. Whilst almost every citizen visits supermarkets for their daily needs. These are two main platforms to introduce insurance products which are beneficial to the masses, particularly, Health insurance, Travel insurance, Personal Accident and various other insurance products. We have set up a special team to further explore this.”

On the topic of Green insurance, Patrick states that Ceylinco General Insurance has implemented a paperless office to a great extent, where all its approval processes have been digitized through its state-of-the-art IT platform, and hence the need for paper has reduced.

As the world continues its digital transformation with a widening footprint that includes cloud-based services, myriad mobile devices and the internet of things – the cybercrime threat is becoming ever more complex. -. Organizations are increasingly reliant on the interconnectivity of systems, and hackers have become sophisticated at exploiting software vulnerabilities and networks. Therefore, there is a growing need for Cybercrime Insurance. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka isn’t ready for this yet, he feels.

“To provide this service, companies need the services of qualified Cybercrime Auditors, but in Sri Lanka, there are only two companies that provide this, with both in their infancy. However, Ceylinco General Insurance is in the process of introducing products for cyber security when the need arises,” he reveals.

The MD/CEO mentions that the performance of Ceylinco General Insurance has been extremely commendable since its inception in 1988 and has shown reasonable growth even during the pandemic. “Despite stiff competition from other industry players, we never compromise on our pricing in order to combat competition, Instead we keep adding value to our products and services. For example, we provide a ‘Warranty insurance cover’ along with our VIP On The Spot policies of  up to 10 years from the date of manufacture. This provides cover against manufacturing defects (including hybrid vehicles), whereas the manufacturer of the vehicle only provides a warranty of up to three years. This warranty insurance cover is offered to our customers without charging any additional premium.

Furthermore, we have entered into a strategic partnership with the insurance giant in Japan, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance company(MSI). MSI has its presence in 49 countries,” he adds. This partnership will certainly benefit Ceylinco General Insurance  by way of Reinsurance capacity, access to their global network and technical knowledge in the future. 

In conclusion, Patrick says, “As the leading general insurance provider in Sri Lanka, we have gone beyond our call of duty to serve the citizens of this nation and we will continue to do so. Our mission is to provide protection and financial security of the highest quality to society, whilst adding to shareholders’ wealth and recognising, rewarding and valuing the dignity of our staff.”

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