Funded by Virat Kohli, this insurtech unicorn was launched to make insurance simple

The Turning Point is a series of short articles that focuses on the moment when an entrepreneur hit upon their winning idea. This week, we take a look at insurtech startup Digit Insurance.
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Insurtech startup Digit Insurance joined the unicorn club in January 2021 after reaching a valuation of $1.9 billion. It achieved this feat in about four years since its inception in 2016. 

In July 2021, the Bengaluru-based startup went on to raise another $200 million, after which its valuation jumped to $3.5 billion. 

Backed by marquee investors such as Sequoia Capital, A91 Partners, Faering Capital, billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Group, and cricketer Virat Kohli, the startup currently offers general insurance products for cars, bikes, health, and travel, among others. 

The startup was founded by insurance industry veteran Kamesh Goyal, who comes with extensive experience in the insurance sector. He has previously worked with Allianz, leading the German insurer’s Asset Management & US life insurance division. He also served as the company’s India unit’s CEO and Country Manager. 

The eureka moment

When Kamesh launched Digit Insurance, he was not only planning to build a company, but was also leaving a company where he had worked for almost 17 years. 

A conversation with his then-teenage son in 2015 in Germany, where he was heading the Group Planning and Controlling division of Allianz, gave the idea to Kamesh to start up. 

Kamesh was trying to explain a specific concept in insurance to his son. “Despite working with Indian and global insurers for over 25 years, I couldn’t help but speak technical words,” Kamesh tells YourStory

“My son asked me a couple of questions and I gave some clarifications. But he said, ‘let it be’. That’s when I felt there is a need to simplify insurance,” says Kamesh. 

‘To Make Insurance Simple’ became his mission, and thus he launched Digit Insurance, which was previously known as Oben.

“Beyond the mission itself, there was no plan in terms of how quickly we wanted to grow or how much we wanted to grow,” he says. 

The problem he had to solve was to uncomplicate the world of insurance, which was full of jargon and broken at many levels not just in India, but globally. The tech solutions that existed were more in silos, and were mending only a part of the value chain. 

“Also, despite the whole digitisation wave, partners who contributed the most to the business were not able to fully leverage this opportunity,” Kamesh says. 

Digit’s approach to the problem was to digitise the entire value chain, including the granular risk selection, and to extend the technology adoption to the largest part of the distribution ecosystem i.e., partners and agents.

“We felt there is a need to do something different. Whether it would succeed or not, we didn’t know,” he says. 

Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial Holdings decided to invest in the startup when it had the MVP (minimum viable product) in place. 

“Knowing Kamesh’s expertise and knowledge of the space, it was simply a no-brainer to invest in the startup,” Prem said in a previous interaction. 

In 2017, the startup got the licence and started selling insurance policies. It started by offering travel insurance, followed by motor insurance. Over the years, the startup decided to add servicing claims to its offerings as well. 

Since inception, Digit Insurance has experimented, iterated with products, and changed it depending on what worked and what didn’t. The company had a revenue of Rs 1,205 crore in FY 2019. In FY 2022, the number grew to Rs 5,268 crore. 

Digit is now a profitable startup with over 3,000 employees and over 33,000 partners in 52 offices across the country. The company has settled over 6.8 lakh claims and has a base of over 2.6 crore customers. 

Edited by Megha Reddy