Amazon Obtains Corporate Agent License to Sell Insurance in India

As Amazon prepares to expand its role in the insurance business in India, it has obtained a corporate agent license from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA), we have learned.

When reached for comment, an Amazon India spokesperson told us, “We are pleased to receive the corporate agency license from IRDA. At Amazon Pay we continue to work customer backwards and focus on providing value to customers wherever we see an opportunity, insurance being one of them. We are exploring the landscape in India and are looking at insurance solutions that provide a convenient and seamless experience for our customers.”

There has been much speculation about what types of insurance Amazon might offer in India, ranging from general health and life insurance to product-specific services like property insurance for high value purchases made from its retail channels or trip protection insurance.

According to IRDA, “Corporate Agents can represent one life insurer, one non-life insurer and one standalone health insurer. In addition they can represent the two specialised insurance companies, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation and Agriculture Insurance Corporation of India.”

Amazon has been making significant changes to its India operations in the first quarter of 2019 in response to several new regulatory mandates the Indian government announced in late December, including the impactful new FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) rules that added new restrictions to marketplace operators. Some in India have heard that Amazon was planning roll out big new insurance products in early 2019 before those plans were delayed by the FDI changes.

Amazon already sells damage protection plans in India, such as this Acko 1-year Total Damage Protection Plan for Phones between INR 10,001-20,000 for R1,199. Amazon is an investor in Acko, and we would expect Amazon to continue to invest in and partner with a variety of other India insurance underwriters as it expands its offerings. Amazon Pay can currently be used to book flights, meals, movies, and more through various Indian partners, and would likely figure prominently in Amazon’s insurance sales plans.

Flipkart appears to be planning to compete heavily with Amazon in the Indian insurance markets. In October, Flipkart announced a partnership with Bajaj Allianz General Insurance to offer mobile phone insurance programs to customers. Binny Bansal, the co-founder of Flipkart is also an investor in Acko.

Big picture, as Amazon aggregates more demand, it is in a position to sell its customers more products. Amazon is innovating quickly in India in many areas, ranging from financing to logistics to private label goods.

In North America, Amazon is backing Haven, its health care joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase. Haven says it intends to initially target employees of its three partner firms, but hasn’t announced its specific strategies or tactics yet. Amazon has an Insurance page on its US store, but it is currently blank.

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