Indian online insurer PolicyBazaar files for IPO, seeks to raise over $800 million

Indian online insurance aggregator PolicyBazaar has filed for an initial public offering in which it is seeking to raise $809 million, becoming the fourth startup in the past two months from the South Asian market to explore public markets.

In papers submitted to the market regulator in India, PolicyBazaar said it is looking to raise $504 million by issuing new shares while the rest will be driven by sale of shares by existing investors.

The 12-year-old startup — backed by SoftBank, Falcon Edge Capital, Tiger Global and InfoEdge — said it may consider raising about $100 million in a pre-IPO round. Softbank plans to sell shares worth over $250 million, while PolicyBazaar founders are looking to sell shares worth $52.7 million, they said in the papers.

PolicyBazaar serves as an aggregator that allows users to compare and buy policies — across categories including life, health, travel, auto and property — from dozens of insurers on its website without having to go through conventional agents. It operates in India as well as the Middle East.

Image Credits: PolicyBazaar

In India only a fraction of the nation’s 1.3 billion people currently have access to insurance and some analysts say that digital firms could prove crucial in bringing these services to the masses. According to rating agency ICRA, insurance products had reached less than 3% of the population as of 2017.

An average Indian makes about $2,100 in a year, according to World Bank. ICRA estimated that of those Indians who had purchased an insurance product, they were spending less than $50 on it in 2017.

“India’s life insurance market is expected to grow at 18.8% p.a. to reach ₹ 31.9 trillion (US$ 425 billion) in FY2030, driven by favorable macro indicators, rising awareness toward financial products and services, digitization and simplification of products and processes, online channels for distributions, innovations and customizations in products and favorable government policies and regulatory push,” the startup said in the papers.

In a report early this year, analysts at Bernstein estimated that PolicyBazaar commands 90% of share in the online insurance distribution market. The platform, which competes with Acko as well as Amazon in India, also sells loans, credit cards and mutual funds. The startup says it sells over a million policies a month.

“India has an underpenetrated insurance market. Within the underpenetrated landscape, digital distribution through web-aggregators like Policybazaar forms <1% of the industry. This offers a large headroom for growth,” Bernstein analysts wrote to clients.

Zomato, which had a stellar public debut last month, as well as fintech firms Paytm and MobiKwik have filed for their initial public offerings in recent weeks.