Brand, not price, drives general insurance purchases: Survey

Pricing is not the most important criterion for consumers when purchasing an insurance product. Brand of the provider, customer service and convenience hold greater importance compared to price

Mumbai: Consumers prefer the brand of the service provider, customer service and convenience over price while buying general insurance products, a survey by Ernst & Young (E&Y) said, reports PTI.

"Pricing is not the most important criterion for consumers when purchasing an insurance product. Brand of the provider, customer service and convenience hold greater importance compared to price," the survey said.

The E&Y survey, which covered over 24,000 life and non- life insurance customers across 23 countries about their buying practices with over 1,000 consumers in the country, however, said price sensitivity varies by segments and type of product.

It also pointed out that consumers are increasingly using online mode for research and buying a product.

"Consumers are increasingly moving online, (with) 31% of respondents use a range of online channels for research," it said, adding, however, sales activity lags research with only 11% customers actually making the purchase.

It also said despite higher use of the online channel, personal contact still remains important in purchase of insurance products.

"Customers are willing to purchase additional products from the same insurer as 69 per cent of the respondents saying they will do so, with convenience and better service being the primary drivers," the survey said.

It, however, said with portability provisions, more customers are likely to switch providers in the near future.

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Number of credit cards dropped in India in 2011: Survey

More and more card-holders have reduced the number of cards in their wallet and consolidated spending with a single card during 2011

Mumbai: The total number of credit card- holders in India declined to 21% in 2011, though the number of premium card-holders rose to 29%, reports PTI.

India also witnessed the fastest growth in the platinum card segment, to 29% in 2011 from 18% in 2010 on account of a rise in the mass affluent segment and the focused sourcing of customers with a higher income levels by the issuing banks, an HSBC Credit Card Monitor Survey said.

"This comes even as the country saw a 2% drop in the number of credit card-holders last year," HSBC India consumer assets head Manish Sinha said in the report.

"The role of benefits and rewards in attracting new and loyal customers is growing in importance," he said.

Significantly, the survey also finds that more and more card-holders have reduced the number of cards in their wallet and consolidated spending with a single card in 2011.

The proportion of single card-holders has grown most in India in 2011 at 90%. The second was the Philippines with 84%, followed by Malaysia (80%).

Interestingly, credit card offers are perceived differently across Asia. For instance, Indonesians rank worldwide card acceptance as the most important feature (50%), whereas only 2% of Hongkongers feel so.

Singapore registered the highest number of platinum card holders at 71%.

 In Asia, Hong Kong had the highest penetration of credit cards in 2011 with 77% of the people polled saying they use credit cards.

The survey interviewed around 5,000 general card-holders, mostly in the 18-54 years age-group, in India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines during May-November 2011.

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Union Bank cuts BPLR by 0.5%

Under the revised interest rates applicable from 15 May 2012, the bank has cut its benchmark prime lending rate to 15%, down 0.50%

Mumbai: After cutting its base rate or the minimum rate of lending last month, state-run Union Bank of India (UBI) slashed interest rates on loans under the basic prime lending rate (BPLR) by 0.50%, reports PTI.

Under the revised interest rates, applicable from 15 May 2012, the bank has cut its benchmark prime lending rate to 15% from 15.50%, UBI said.

"The revised BPLR shall be applicable to all existing accounts where the floating interest rate is linked to BPLR and those who have not opted to change to base rate," it said.

Shortly after the Reserve Bank made a surprise 0.50% cut in the key interest rate to 8% on 17 April 2012, UBI had cut rates on loans linked to the base rate regime -- which came into effect from July 2010 -- by 0.15% to 10.50%.

Majority of banks, barring the State Bank of India, have cut their base rates following the policy review by up to 0.25%.

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