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He's the world's youngest top selling agent

Freny Patel in Mumbai | March 22, 2004 08:25 IST

He's 19, has sold life insurance business worth Rs 2.2 crore (Rs 22 million) in terms of premium income and is the youngest highest-selling insurance agent in the world. Meet Delhi-based Ankur Agarwal. This young MBA student today earns an annual commission of about Rs 40 lakh (Rs 4 million).

Agarwal is one of 24 agents in India and 500 agents around the world who qualify for the global title of Top of the Table. Another Indian in that league is Narendra Kumar Tulsian, 45. Tulsian and Agarwal have become icons for their fellow 6,448 agents at OM Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company.

Tulsian has sold policies to the tune of Rs 1.32 crore (Rs 13.2 million), earning himself a hefty commission of over Rs 40 lakh.

TOT is the highest global recognition given to insurance salespersons in terms of their ability to garner the maximum premium income in a single year. In India, the qualifying premium to become a TOT is Rs 1.2 crore (Rs 12 million).

There are about 1,700 Million Dollar Round Table agents in the country, who to qualify have to earn a premium income of at least Rs 21 lakh (Rs 2.1 million).

Higher than the MDRT agent is the Court of the Table agent, who has to earn premium income of Rs 63 lakh (Rs 6.3 million) to qualify. There are 73 COTs in India today. The qualifying amount for a TOT is twice as much, at Rs 1.2 crore (Rs 12 million).

Agarwal is not selling risk cover to his college mates or his well-to-do relatives. He capitalises on his father's business contacts -- making presentations to corporates, discussing with them their balance sheets in terms of ensuring future earnings and profitability. At the end of the exercise, he sells them a solution in the form of keyman insurance cover.

Over 60 to 70 per cent of policies sold by Agarwal and Tulsian are keyman insurance covers. "There has been an increase in the sales of keyman covers this year as the Indian economy is on an upswing and companies are reporting increased profits," said Tulsian.

Companies buy keyman insurance covers to protect the future of the entity in the event that key persons in the company die. This helps secure the future solvency of the corporate entity.

The biggest stumbling block in selling insurance the world over is the general public belief that "I will not die". Yet Tulsian has done business worth Rs 1.34 crore (Rs 13.4 million) this year by tapping his contact base of well over 5,000 individuals.

Agents selling insurance in India continue to face a tug of war between private insurance companies and the Life Insurance Corporation of India. "Most customers have blind faith in the old institution, and this poses a major challenge for us," Tulsian said.

The recent successive introduction of unit-linked plans by almost all the private insurance companies has become a nightmare for consumers.

"True, the product talks of transparency, but the differences in features in terms of switching facilities, differences in maturity periods have confused customers," said Tulsian.

The immense number of products in the country has created confusion in the minds of consumers and in order to sell his (OM Kotak's) wares with conviction, Tulsian made an investment of Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) by buying seven different policies of OM Kotak.

"One needs to lead by example and this is only possible if I can put my seal on the product by having bought one," explains Tulsian, adding that this has been his best investment ever -- an investment that has helped Tulsian earn an annual commission of over Rs 40 lakh.

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