Bao Viet was founded in 1965 and is Vietnam’s largest insurance company. It began offering life insurance in 1996. Mr. Hoang Anh Duc, Deputy General Director of Bao Viet Life Corporation, spoke with Global Banking & Finance Review editor Wanda Rich about supporting customers through COVID’s latest challenges, some of the new products that the company has launched in the last year, and the unparalleled relationship that endures between the brand and the people of Vietnam.
He began by explaining the more recent effects of COVID’s ongoing presence on the country. “In Q3 of 2021, the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Vietnam with a rapid and extremely dangerous spread, threatening the health and lives of many people. The strict blockades and prolonged distance in many provinces and cities have negatively affected people’s daily lives, as well as the production and business activities of many enterprises.”
A few key fundamental market numbers from 2021 back this up. According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the total number of enterprises entering and re-entering the market in 2021 was less than 160,000, down 10.7% compared to 2020. 119,800 enterprises withdrew from the market, an increase of 17.8%, of which the majority were enterprises established under 5 years earlier with small capital scale.
“The insurance industry in general – and life insurance in particular – is one of the few industries that can maintain business operations and continue to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Hoang Anh Duc said, an assertion that is supported by estimated data from the Vietnam Insurance Association. In 2021, it valued the total insurance premium revenue of the market as a whole at 217,338 billion VND, up 16.71% on 2020, of which life insurance premium revenue was estimated at 159,458 billion VND, up 22% year on year. New operating revenue in 2021 reached 48,727 billion VND, up 16.2% compared to 2020. The number of new operating contracts in 2021 reached 3,554,018 (main products), an increase of 14.25% year on year. Also in 2021, insurance companies made payments of 32,814 billion VND, up 24.78% year on year.
It therefore follows that Bao Viet Life has had to keep its finger on the pulse of what the Vietnamese market needed in that time. “In 2021, while facing the COVID-19 pandemic, Bao Viet Life Corporation actively adapted, innovated and flexibly adjusted business activities and governance to continue to lead the market,” Mr. Hoang Anh Duc confirmed. “Together with the government, Bao Viet Life has not stopped making efforts to realise the dual goal of ensuring people’s health while maintaining and developing business activities. We have continued to maintain our leading position in the market, with original premium revenue of 30,558 billion VND, up 9.0% compared to 2020. Bao Viet Life has issued nearly 300,000 new operating polices, paid tax of up to 510 billion VND – of which more than 215 billion VND is corporate income tax – and created jobs for more than 45,000 new consultants, bringing the total number of staff and consultants up to 240,000.”
The company also invested in infrastructure, equipment and the operation of nearly 400 regional offices nationwide in 2021, which he noted has brought superior services, products and dedicated care closer to the Vietnamese people. “At the same time, it increases the competitive advantage of the large distribution channel, which is the outstanding advantage of Bao Viet Life,” he pointed out. “Expanding the regional office network to remote districts has met the demand for financial solutions for people in the area, and created many stable jobs and high incomes for people in all regions of the country. Concurrently, we’ve been enhancing the perfect customer service experience through the team of officers, staff, secretaries and consultants at the regional office system to promptly receive and answer questions, provide support, and resolve benefits for customers.”
He also spoke on the company’s philanthropic endeavours that have helped the country to work towards rebuilding in a post-COVID environment. “When the fourth wave of the pandemic broke out – the most stressful and fierce period of Vietnam – Bao Viet Life was the first unit and contributed the most to the government’s COVID-19 vaccine fund with the amount of 30 billion dong,” he recalled. “At the heart of all 76 member companies and general agent channels in 63 cities, including all Bao Viet Life staff and financial consultants, is generosity, through giving money, clothes, necessities for the sick, and supporting doctors, hospitals and families living in the blockade. Bao Viet Life has maximised the spirit of solidarity and sharing by joining hands with the government and population to overcome the most dangerous period of the pandemic. ‘Good leaves cover torn leaves!‘”
That is not to say that the insurer’s focus has strayed from ensuring that it offers its clientele the most competitive advantages possible; indeed, Mr. Hoang Anh Duc underscored the point that Bao Viet Life’s success stems from placing customers at the centre of all its activities. “The interests of customers are always guaranteed. In 2021, Bao Viet Life’s total amount of all compensation and insurance payments was more than 9,000 billion VND, including policy maturity payment (2,300 billion dong), payment for risk insurance benefits (1,000 billion dong), payback value (4,600 billion dong), and other payments under insurance policies (1,100 billion VND).
“In addition, nearly 1,300 customers were supported with special insurance benefits between February 2020 and November 2021. More than 1,500 unlucky customers who were at risk due to COVID-19 in 2021 received insurance benefits from Bao Viet Life, with a total payout of over 35 billion VND. Currently, the COVID-19 risk cases are still handled by Bao Viet Life with insurance benefits according to the terms.”
For many businesses during the period of social distancing, maintaining good customer service practices over the phone proved to be a challenge. However, as Mr. Hoang Anh Duc reported, Bao Viet Life employed its best efforts to ensure that this challenge was both met and overcome. “The operation of the customer service call centre was maintained in the best way, through listening, consulting, answering questions and sharing customers’ difficulties,” he said. “The number of incoming calls answered by the call centre in a month is more than 2,000. In addition, in order to ensure safety in the context of the complicated COVID-19 situation, Bao Viet Life has promoted a variety of fee collection channels, whereby customers can pay fees by e-wallet, mobile banking or bank card.”
He also explained how the company has gone the extra mile when it comes to supporting the Vietnamese population. “In 2021, Bao Viet Life deployed thousands of healthcare consulting programmes, such as cancer and stroke prevention, COVID-19 prevention and post-COVID healthcare, directly and online with the cooperation of many leading experts and doctors. Bao Viet Life is proud to be one of the life insurance companies deploying the most healthcare consulting programmes for customers and people in Vietnam.”
Other adjustments that have had to be implemented over the past few years have included addressing increased demand, not just for the company’s services, but for new ways of delivering them. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have had high demand for insurance products to prevent risks caused by the disease,” Mr. Hoang Anh Duc said. “In order to meet the insurance needs of customers while ensuring compliance with COVID prevention, Bao Viet Life quickly adjusted the operation process and deployed appropriate technology solutions to help customers receive insurance advice, and declare and complete the insurance claim documents remotely. It is estimated that several tens of thousands of customers have been consulted remotely, and declared insurance applications and received policies electronically.
“SalesPlatform, our new sales software, helps to increase the utility and business tools for consultants,” he continued. “It supports many deployment forms of application for insurance – traditional documents, wet-ink signing online and e-sign documents – to serve a variety of different customers. It improves the policy issuance process and the quality control efficiency of declared information and customers’ interests. Consultants advise customers via remote means – Zoom, Zalo, FaceTime etc. – while customers declare and remotely sign insurance claim documents.”
Being in the field of life insurance, Bao Viet Life strives to understand the worries and difficulties of people when facing risks, especially disease risks. “Since 2016, we have maintained healthcare consulting programmes and healthcare call centres for people across the country,” Mr. Hoang Anh Duc revealed. “The experts collaborating with Bao Viet Life are excellent – associate professors and leading doctors of central hospitals.
“Particularly during the years since the outbreak of COVID-19, Bao Viet Life has increased its healthcare and consulting activities. During the period of social distancing, when in-person events could not be held, Bao Viet Life increased its online events. Thousands of counselling programmes on COVID prevention, post-COVID healthcare, and the prevention of dangerous diseases such as cancer and strokes were implemented by Bao Viet Life in 2021.”
The company’s efforts in this area have also included the launch of new health-focused products. “With the same focus on care and protection of people’s health, in 2021, Bao Viet Life launched the An Khang Hanh Phuc product and, in March 2022, a healthcare product named An Vui Song Khoe. All products researched and launched to the market by Bao Viet Life have the same preeminent feature of bringing the best care and health protection to customers. Bao Viet Life’s An Khang Hanh Phuc and An Vui Song Khoe products are highly trusted and have been well received by people across the country.”
The conversation came to a close with Mr. Hoang Anh Duc’s overarching thoughts on the company’s current position and its commitment to supporting Vietnam’s ongoing growth. “Bao Viet Life is proud to be a business of sustainable development, and for many years has continuously led the life insurance industry in Vietnam,” he disclosed. “The achievements of Bao Viet Life are crystallised from the efforts, dedication and one-hearted service to the Vietnamese customers on behalf of Bao Viet Life’s leadership, staff and financial consultants across the country. At the same time, it is also a result built on the trust, love and companionship between the Vietnamese people and the Bao Viet Life brand during the past 26 years.
“In Vietnam, life insurance has been, is and will continue to be an essential product serving the protection, healthcare, savings and investment needs of every family,” he added. “Bao Viet Life is committed to protecting Vietnamese families with the best products, being a reliable companion, bringing happiness and peace to the people, and contributing to the construction and development of society, helping the country of Vietnam to increasingly develop and flourish.”