The Role of Life Insurance in Preserving Lifestyles – Asif Farook

The Head of National Distribution at Amana Takaful Life PLC, Asif Farook began his career in the Pharmaceutical industry prior to his transition to Insurance. 

“My first job was at GlaxoSmithKline, where I worked for 8 years before joining Amana Takaful Life. Both are more or less life-saving industries and I’m thankful for the diverse experience. I have now been at Amana Takaful Life for 12 years.”

Describing how sales services in Insurance differ from that of any other industry, Asif explained, “With regards to sales and especially after-sales, usually after a consumer buys a tangible product like a television or washing machine and begins using it, they don’t seek out the sales agent again, unless their unsatisfied with the product. However, when it comes to Insurance it is a very different story. Insurance Advisors need to stay in touch with their customers and vice versa. This is because the needs of the customer often change as the years go by. For an example, a man who is earning Rs. 100,000/- a month may be earning Rs. 300,000/- in 3 years’ time. In which case the policy purchased 3 years earlier may not be sufficient to suit his current needs and lifestyle. When a customer is used to a particular lifestyle and, god forbid, something happens to him or his income, there will be no means by which his dependents can sustain themselves. In this case, an Insurance policy serves as a form of income replacement. 

Thus, it is vital for Insurance Advisors to remain in touch with their customers until the end of each term. After-sales service is very important in the Insurance industry, especially in the case of the Life sector. As we offer nothing tangible but a piece of paper, an agreement, the only way a customer can experience our product is in the event of a claim or when he/she wants to upgrade their policy or when the policy matures.Unlike consumer products, when a policy is sold it’s the beginning of a 20 year relationship. Unfortunately, we see a large number of policies lapsing, either because the customer does not understand the value of the policy or because it turns out that the policy in question does not meet the needs of the customer. The penetration of Insurance in Sri Lanka is very low.” 

“For the time being at least, Insurance does not cover pandemics. Therefore, in the face of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, we are looking into each claim individually and offering coverage within certain parameters and guidelines”, replied Asif, when questioned about how the ongoing pandemic has impacted the offerings of Insurance agencies. 

Speaking about the most significant things the general public should know about Life Insurance, Asif said, “The main reason someone should consider purchasing a Life Insurance policy is to provide financial protection for their family and continue the same lifestyle. The 3 most significant things to look for in a Life Insurance policy are – A. adequate life cover to replace the monthly income B. critical illness cover (CI) C . hospitalization cover. However, if  something happens to the policy holder/breadwinner, the policy ensures that his/her dependents will be able to sustain themselves. We’re basically protecting someone’s income. This way, if something happens to the income earner of the family, the Life Insurance policy will ensure that the family continues to receive that income amount.

In the event of a critical illness or hospitalization, the breadwinner need not utilize whatever savings they have set aside for their future plans as the relevant cover of the policy can be used for this purpose. Insurance is for living. But unfortunately, this message has not received due attention in Sri Lanka. It is our duty, as Insurers, to educate more people to purchase policies in order to ensure the preservation of their respective lifestyles.”

“Almost every corporate has understood the value of a group policy. Corporates purchase policies to cover death, critical illness and hospitalization benefits in order to retain their staff. Also, in this way the company need not set aside large amounts of money as they can craft the policy to fit their needs and budgets. Thus, corporates can benefit more and pay less. Most of the Sri Lankan companies, large, middle and small scale, have purchased group policies”, disclosed the Head of National Distribution on the topic of the status of Insurance in the corporate sector.

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