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Home » Sanit ‘Vicky’ Narula, The Managing Director of Narula Insurance Broker on their foundation built from honesty

Sanit ‘Vicky’ Narula, The Managing Director of Narula Insurance Broker on their foundation built from honesty

by Nikki Kumar

In Sure Hands!

Any broker can tell you that no two days are the same!” Sanit ‘Vicky’ Narula, the Managing Director of Narula Insurance Broker, tells me with a chuckle when I meet him at his family home, having managed to catch him before the early morning business rush. “Every day at work we cover new business, manage claims and crises that may arise, and of course catch up with existing and new customers – these daily tasks are rewarding to both my team and me,” he continues, with agreement from his two daughters, who have joined him in the multi-generational business that has now spanned over five decades. “The key is that we go home feeling that we have served to the best of our ability, and have chosen good products and good partners for our clients.”

Soft-spoken and camera shy, Vicky nevertheless shows a deep-seated passion for helping his clients when he speaks about the business that his father, Harbans Lal Narula, began in 1962, and which has since become one of the most reputable insurance brokers for the Thai-Indian community. “In 1985, once I’d returned to Thailand after my Bachelor’s degree in the US, I joined my father’s business, known today as H Narula Enterprises and Narula Insurance Broker Co., Ltd.,” Vicky recalls. “My dad has been my role model since the day I joined the business, and growing up, I learned a lot about insurance from him – through his experiences, close guidance, and network, I developed an interest in this field.” He adds with justifiable admiration, “Till today, if you ever visit AIA’s headquarters in Thailand, Hong Kong, and a few other countries, you’ll see his photo in their Hall of Fame!”

Although the business initially focused on Life Insurance, Vicky tells me that soon after he joined the business, they steered their focus towards General Insurance after seeing potential in the sector. “That’s how we have both Life and Non-Life Insurance businesses today,” he explains. “My dad’s entrepreneurial mindset allowed for me to delve into the business, flourish and expand – so much so, that my children are now working for the same firm! I’m honoured to share that our business now spans three generations.” As I congratulate him on this fact, and the numerous accolades that the business – and he himself – has won, he brushes them off with humility. “I have walked in my father’s footsteps and been lucky enough to share many milestones with him and win many of the same awards that he has, which has been both rewarding and humbling. But even so, I’m not one for fame or publicity,” he confides. Indeed, despite being well-spoken, he clearly prefers being out of the limelight during our chat. “I talk a lot during business hours because it’s part of the trade. But after that, I check out and am a homebody,” he laughs, clearly at ease in his own home. “No award ceremony entices me!”

He spoke to Masala further about the pillars of their business that led to their success, as well as his own personal values that were passed on to him from his father, and that he’s passed on to his own daughters.

Your father had a significant reputation in the insurance industry. Could you share some insights into his contributions and how his legacy has influenced your approach to the business?

My father was very well known in all Indian communities, as he was a very jovial and social individual. His intent was not primarily to find business, but he was a dear friend to many and was always present and helpful in social gatherings. This was a big stepping stone for his business as he had built good long-term relations based on genuine friendship. As you may note, the key to insurance is trust and honesty, therefore being well known in society was a great advantage for our business. With his gentle nature and outgoing personality, he grew his business steadily and eventually acquired many milestones such as appearing in the Insurance Hall of Fame and Hall of Honour, being part of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) trade association, being voted ‘Top Man’ in his field and winning the Top of the World Contest, and many more! He is even featured in an insurance textbook today as a case study of a successful insurance broker. I would say he was a man ahead of his time! His legacy grew organically, as he was one of the most hard-working individuals I’ve known.

In what ways does Narula Insurance Broker differentiate itself from other insurance brokers in Thailand, particularly in terms of the breadth of services offered and the level of personalised attention provided to clients?

In my view, the key to a successful brokerage is all in your service, which correlates to your deep knowledge of the product. All brokerages essentially sell the same product so the key to being unique lies in your personal touch, i.e. your service. Till date, I still manage and collaborate with all the teams in my office, although we have staff that can handle them. The difference is that the clients get our personal opinion and approach, and I make myself accessible to them, which is why I believe they choose Narula Insurance Broker.

The core values of the company have remained the same since my father’s time, and they are continually practiced by myself and my daughters, who are leading the company today. Because of these timeless values, we remain relevant. Although we are constantly educating ourselves and our teams on new industry trends and regulations, we pride ourselves most on our integrity and business ethics, providing honest services to all. We aim to understand what the client’s needs are, so the client’s requirements are met, and they find a product that is a suitable fit for them. We often tailor-make policies when required, so that the client’s exact needs are met and satisfied. All in all, by prioritising these key qualities and behaviours, we are able to differentiate ourselves and provide value to our clients, which in turn has allowed us to achieve longterm success in our industry, and maintain longstanding relationships with our clients and business partners. We believe that every single client, whether they have a single policy or multiple policies with us, adds value to our business and holds the same importance in our portfolio.

Could you provide insight into how Narula Insurance Brokers leverages technology and innovation to enhance the insurance brokerage experience, and create value-added, competitive advantages, for your clients?

With today’s technological advancements, our business has essentially changed from relying on hard copies of paperwork, to being mainly online. What used to take a few days to complete is now done within a matter of minutes, which is very helpful for us as a team, and is also consumer centric. However, at the same time, there are now so many online platforms that offer ‘cheap’ premiums for motor or other types of insurance, and the difference is that the personalised touch is lacking. In turn, the clients don’t renew those policies, as it is counterintuitive for them to buy a generic product that doesn’t suit their needs especially due to the lack of personalised service and expertise during the time of claims.

Claim processing and accessibility to our team is what differentiates us from the generic insurance online sales channels. Although in this technologically-driven environment, we have maintained a good presence online for marketing, most often, it is still through organic methods such as referrals and networking events where new business is secured. We don’t find it necessarily ideal to robotise the entire process, as in my opinion the key to insurance is service based, which is heavily based on human interaction. So, whilst technological advancements have sped up the work process in terms of administration and operations, we don’t think it is the main avenue in which to excel in this trade.

With over 50 years of experience, how has Narula Insurance Broker adapted to changes in the insurance landscape, particularly in terms of regulatory requirements and market dynamics?

It is imperative for us to keep up to date with industry trends and educational opportunities. Our team members have, in the past and now, enrolled in and attended seminars, online courses, and workshops to further expand our understanding and knowledge of the industry. Trends constantly change based on economic and environmental factors, so it is very important to brush up your skills and continue learning. There’s a lot of information provided with today’s technological opportunities, and even fringe knowledge will enhance our expertise in all facets of the business, whether it is with our underwriting team, our claims team, or more. The more knowledge you attain about your products and the business, the better you are at work!

What do you believe has been key in earning the trust and goodwill of your clients over the years, making you the leading insurance broker for the Thai-Indian community?

Accessibility, diligence, transparency, and perseverance. Our team is focused on a well-rounded experience, starting from understanding the client’s needs when choosing the product(s), to our servicing during the claims process. We always keep our relationship professional by maintaining confidentiality as part of our broker-client privilege, and just as importantly, we enable the client to understand their policy terms and benefits. Oftentimes, we have difficult conversations with clients regarding exclusions and private matters, and we choose to do this when you are buying the product, not afterwards, so that you are aware of the genuine terms. We don’t believe in sugar-coating reality, even if that means that we lose the business; our vision has always been a long-term relationship with the client, and we’re not looking for a short cut to close a deal. In fact, one of our insurers has continuously bestowed us with the “Highest Renewal Rate” award.

You can communicate your confidence and knowledge by simply taking the time to find out your clients’ needs and objectives. We take all this into account and then suggest a bespoke plan, thereby bypassing the client’s need to shop around. Sometimes the client will make the rounds with other brokers, and they come back with more confidence in our approach, which we appreciate! Ultimately, transparency wins, and honesty goes a long way.

From your perspective, what advice would you offer to both your current clients and those considering working with your company?

My advice to all my clients and prospective clients is that when you build an honest relationship with your broker, you’ll go a long way. You grow together and your broker will also work to their best ability to choose and suggest the best for you, which means you are well covered! There’s no one-size-fits-all in insurance, and that is the beauty of having a broker. We have no brand loyalty to one company, we choose what works for you, not for us!

Over the years, what would you consider the achievement that you’re most proud, and conversely, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

I don’t think of any particular milestone or award as a personal achievement, instead, I consider them good motivators to continue on the right path. I truly believe that the small daily achievements are what amount to your long-term success personally, and as a team. Any small win for a client – a difficult claim that goes through, the successful treatment of a client’s sickness, the maturity of a policy with good payback, hearing a simple “thank you,” – has always been the most moving and rewarding to me.

Meanwhile, challenges are part of the job; they’re what keeps it interesting. I’m proud that our business has steadily grown despite economic ups and downs, and we continue to provide good services to all with expansion in mind.

One challenge that comes to mind is back in 2011 when we were faced with devastating floods. The flooding in Thailand in 2011 was one of the most severe floods in the country’s history, and it affected millions of people and caused significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and industry. The insurance industry faced a large number of claims due to property damage, business interruption, and other related losses. Many insurance companies experienced substantial financial losses as a result. During this time, we worked relentlessly, which proved to be rewarding as all our affected clients were compensated as due. This incident was demanding, but once claims were settled this was a good foundation for our business reputation and solidified our relationships with our clients. It is not often that clients realise the true benefit of insurance, and it is unfortunate and ironic that it is mainly in times of claim they see the true value of their broker and their insurance policies.

All these experiences have taught me how to deal with real-life scenarios, and I’ve taken them in stride. In my opinion, business challenges are always a lesson in disguise – each time we confront a new challenge, we learn from it and grow above it.

On a more personal note, tell us about your biggest inspirations and support.

My dad of course, has always been my mentor and role model, and till date, I strive to exemplify the many qualities of the successful businessman that he was. I am lucky to have my daughters, my employees, and business partners all of whom support our business growth. But above all and most importantly, I’m grateful for our clients who have been with us for many years and have simultaneously grown with us. It is through their consistent support and trust in Narula Insurance Broker that has allowed us to expand through three generations. For the future, I intend for my daughters to continue the business with the same core values, and use our strong foundation to further develop and expand.

As someone who is considered a titan of the industry in Thailand and a shining example of success, what message would you like to give to the Thai-Indian community and others in the industry?

In our industry, I truly believe that having business ethnics and transparency always takes you far, and provides you with a strong advantage. With today’s easy access to social media, marketing has made things very surface level, so your expertise, experience, and opinion is priceless. One should always suggest what is right and beneficial for the client. This will ensure a recurring customer, more referrals, and a long-lasting business relationship. It is easier to grow together, so always do what is best for all parties, and you shall succeed!





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