Chola MS General Insurance, part of the 100-year-old Murugapa Group, was one of the earliest private players in general insurance in India. The joint venture between Murugappa Group and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group taps collective wisdom of these two business groups that have stood the test of time. After all, a century-old business legacy can be built only by embracing the present and preparing for the future.

In 2019, the company underwent organisational restructuring to get ready for the future, and in 2020, sharpened its focus on technology. In an industry plagued with high attrition rates, Chola MS strives to induct fresh talent, aid its growth through cross-functional exposure and build a pool of culturally aligned employees.

To retain talent, the company leverages the diversity of the Murugappa Group and its myriad business units to offer non-linear career paths and exposure to multiple businesses and roles. This also helps the company retain talent that can rise to leadership positions.

Concern for employee safety starts from the grassroot, says Shailen Merchant, head, human resources. “The high rates of accidents on Indian roads led us to initiate ‘Operation Suraksha’, which aims to mitigate safety risks, especially for our salesmen who travel mostly on two-wheelers.” During the lockdown, the HR team contacted every employee personally, weekly, to know about their physical and emotional health. Families of deceased employees received insurance and remuneration (equal to salary for 24 months). Frontline workers received special insurance benefits. Besides, the company also allows ex-employees to access their job records, apply for new openings or even refer others, through its alumni portal Chola4ever.

Innovation is an integral part of the company’s story. The general insurance industry typically relies heavily on B2B partnerships to reach consumers. Chola MS, however, decided to reach consumers directly, especially in small towns. While it employs staff in Tier-II, III and IV towns, it also enables customers to communicate with it directly through technology interface.

“It’s impossible for an organisation to think about every solution on its own. You do need that outside view, you need to know what’s happening, what’s that little spark on the horizon that will turn into the sun, that will bring in a large technology differentiator,” says Merchant. Thus, apart from nurturing its in-house talent, the company has also entered into partnerships with IT and insurance tech companies. A customer-centric approach, coupled with technology first strategy, has enabled Chola MS deliver many firsts, including live video-streamed assessment of accidental damage to vehicles.

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