46-year-old Yashish Dahiya, the co-founder and CEO of PolicyBazaar.com, is lean and calm, the way triathletes usually are. He’s completed the gruelling Ironman triathlon.

Dahiya is also impatient. In his student days at IIT Delhi, he’d run home to Noida every Friday evening and back to college on Monday morning—30 kilometres each way—because he found the public buses too slow for his liking. Many years may have passed since, but this impatient streak has not left him.

This combination of endurance and impatience has seemingly paid off. PolicyBazaar, India’s largest insurance aggregator, just raised a mammoth $200 million venture round. From arguably the world’s most sought-after VC fund, SoftBank. A venture round that saw the company enter the unicorn club—startups with a valuation of $1 billion or more.

Dahiya is also a maverick. He pooh-poohs the most investible theme floating around when it comes to insurance—“insurtech”. You know, the use of technology to unbundle and disrupt traditional insurance through apps, wearables, nifty micro-insurance policies and entirely software-based processes? Heck, SoftBank’s most prestigious insurance investment globally is ZhongAn, the Chinese insurtech pioneer that went from starting up to IPO to a $10 billion valuation in just over four years.

“These are tick-box products,” he says, pointing to one of the most popular micro-insurances these days—domestic travel insurance. “The claims ratio is 5%. Why would you ever pay for something like that? A good insurance product has 75-80%. ”

The world is moving to small, impulse-driven insurance products like flight delay insurance or e-commerce returns insurance (ZhongAn’s top seller). Likewise, PolicyBazaar’s younger and nimbler competitors are partnering with e-commerce sites to upsell tiny policies along with a bigger purchase (show delay insurance with a movie ticket, for example).

Dahiya, however, wants to go in a different direction. Back to selling the classic idea of insurance—as genuine protection against death, disease and disability. He is doubling down on trying to make PolicyBazaar a destination for customers to educate themselves and buy insurance. When every insurance startup worth its salt is figuring out how to not just distribute third-party policies, but also create newer ones, Dahiya says he will “never” create his own policies, “ever”.

And then there’s his co-founder and CFO, Alok Bansal. “We didn’t really have a need for the $200 million. Or a very clear use of those funds,” Bansal says. “In fact, our existing investors were willing to invest up to $500 million, but we took the money from SoftBank in order for an ecosystem alignment with an important player like it,” he says.

None of this makes sense.


Ruhi Kandhari

Ruhi writes on the impact of healthcare policies, trends in the healthcare sector and developments on the implementation of Electronic Health Records in India. She has an M. Sc. in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.