The Bihari Boy Who Revolutionized the Indian Insurance Sector: The Story of Ankit Agrawal and InsuranceDekho

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The year was 2012. 

Ankit Agrawal’s father was admitted to a hospital for 11-12 days. The family was, of course, concerned about his speedy recovery. Thankfully, his father had health insurance, which many Indians don’t have or care about, even today. However, upon completing the discharge formalities, the hospital handed them a bill of around 10 lakhs. For a middle-class family, that was a massive amount. But what about the health insurance, for which his father had been diligently paying premiums for years? The insurance company informed Ankit that his father’s ailments were not covered under the plan. This revelation shook him to the core. That moment marked the genesis of the need to create an insurance platform like InsuranceDekho. However, it was easier said than done. 

The Indian insurance sector is brimming with companies like Policy Bazaar, Acko, Digit Insurance, Turtlemint, Ditto, and Coverfox to name a few. Breaking through in this crowded market is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. However, never underestimate the power of a Bihari mind. 

Ankit embodies the essence of a true Bihari – resourceful, street-smart, and persistent. He hails from Begusarai, a town in northern Bihar. In fact, his friends used to call him ‘Pagal Bihari’ for his unconventional business approach. After the shock of 2012, Ankit quit his job at the investment banking firm UBS in 2013, taking a salary cut of over 40% and relocating to Bengaluru to join a startup. 

This was the preparatory phase in his life that eventually laid the foundation for his first startup – InsuranceDekho. During this time, he also observed India and Bharat from the perspective of a budding entrepreneur. In his words, “There are two Indias – India and Bharat. And every successful businessman and entrepreneur knows this.”

The Birth of InsuranceDekho

In 2017, Ankit sowed the seed of InsuranceDekho with a vision to democratize the Indian insurance sector by simplifying the insurance buying, selling, and claim process. In simpler terms, InsuranceDekho is an online marketplace that allows you to compare and buy third-party insurance policies for vehicles, health, life, and more. It has direct integrations with 47 insurers, offering over 510 products for health, life, motor, and others.

InsuranceDekho, like almost every other tech company, focused on the 200 million internet users from ‘Bharat’. The startup developed a specific ‘Bharat’ model to gain more users from smaller cities. Instead of a push strategy, InsuranceDekho adopted an advisory-led model, prioritizing understanding the need rather than pushing insurance products onto consumers. Ankit realized early on that an assistance model would be crucial for success in smaller cities. This is why InsuranceDekho emphasizes advising instead of forcing policies down the customer’s throat.

The COVID Phase

For the otherwise underpenetrated insurance industry in India, the COVID-19 pandemic meant a surge in business. Policies like Corona Rakshak and Corona Kavach, approved by the Indian insurance regulator, the Insurance and Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI), led to a steady rise in numbers.

In an interview, Ankit remarked that the impact of COVID-19 on the insurance distribution model, particularly in the health and life sectors, was unprecedented. It fostered greater awareness about the importance of insurance, and this awareness is likely to persist.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted auto insurance as people stayed home and didn’t renew their policies. However, as lockdowns eased and commercial movement resumed, people returned to renew their policies, leading to an immediate uptick for InsuranceDekho.

The Road Ahead

Today, Ankit and his team’s efforts are bearing fruit. InsuranceDekho clocked 2000Crs in premium in FY23 and is on track to do 4000Crs premium in FY24. To aid this – the company has a claim NPS of 95+.

Today, InsuranceDekho has 1.5 lakh partners in 1800+ regions covering 98% of pin codes across the country. The company wants a partner in each village over the next 3 years. To get an idea of the scale they are targeting, there are more than 6 lakh villages in India.

Fun fact: 17 Indians buy a policy from InsuranceDekho every minute.

This impressive growth happened despite operating in a competitive industry with players like Policybazaar, Bankbazaar, Acko, and more.

Industry experts tracking the online insurance space believe that InsuranceDekho has immense growth potential and is likely to expand manifold in the current and upcoming financial years. Ankit acknowledges the competition but emphasizes the vast market opportunity in India, which can accommodate all players. He states, “If you combine general and life insurance, the insurance industry in India is worth $15-20 billion. When the market is that huge, competition is not an issue. But yes, there will be a race for the top position, and that depends on your technological prowess.”

The success of InsuranceDekho is a testament to the fact that one does not need to invest millions in customer acquisition. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of understanding consumer needs, providing tailored solutions, and prioritizing customer satisfaction. 

Ankit’s journey from a small town in Bihar to revolutionizing the Indian insurance sector is an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs across the country. His story exemplifies the power of perseverance, innovation, and customer-centricity in achieving success.

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