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Insurance Market in India: IRDA and the Business volume in the Industry

March 20, 2021

The insurance sector in India reopened itself for private companies on the recommendation of R.N. Malhotra, the former RBI Governor in 1994, following the Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) announced in the New Economic Policy 1991. In his recommendation, he suggested that the foreign insurance company can participate through joint-ventures with Indian private companies in the insurance sector. The Malhotra committee made the historical recommendation to establish a regulatory for the insurance sector and in 1999, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) was constituted as an autonomous body to regulate and develop the insurance industry. In April, 2004, IRDA was incorporated as a statutory body with the objectives of promotion of Insurance service, spreading awareness on financial security through insurance market, enhancing consumer satisfaction through increased consumer choice and lower premiums.

The IRDA opened up the market in August 2000 with the invitation for application for registrations. Foreign companies were allowed ownership of up to 26%. The Authority has the power to frame regulations under Section 114A of the Insurance Act, 1938 and has from 2000 onwards framed various regulations ranging from registration of companies for carrying on insurance business to protection of policyholders’ interests. In December, 2000, the subsidiaries of the General Insurance Corporation of India were restructured as independent companies and at the same time GIC was converted into a national re-insurer. Parliament passed a bill de-linking the four subsidiaries from GIC in July, 2002.

 Today there are 33 General/Non-Life insurance companies and 24 life insurance companies operating in our country who compete on price and services to attract customers, whereas, there are two reinsurance companies. With the entry of foreign companies, the insurance industry has been spurred by product innovation and vibrant distribution channels, coupled with targeted publicity and promotional campaigns by insurers. Some remarkable achievements of the sector after the IRDA’s establishment is as under:

Achievements towards Industry expansion:

  1. Number of service providers have been increased that benefit the insurance buyer due to its underlying competition.
  2. The market share of private sector companies in the non-life insurance market rose from 15 per cent in FY04 to 56 per cent in FY21 (till April 2020). In the life insurance segment, private players had a market share of 31.3 per cent in new business in FY20.
  3. The Government has approved an ordinance to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in the Insurance sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, which would further help attract investment in the sector.
  4. As per Union Budget 2019-20, 100 percent FDI was permitted for insurance intermediaries.

Achievements towards Social Security and Social Infrastructure Building:

  1. Over 53.8 million farmers benefited under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) during FY20. National Health Protection Scheme was announced under Union Budget 2018-19 as part of Ayushman Bharat. The scheme provided insurance cover up to Rs 500,000 (US$ 7,723) to more than 100 million vulnerable families in India.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY), the world’s largest social health scheme, is expected to provide coverage to around 50 crore people. Fund of Rs 6,400 crore (US$ 887 million) has been allocated for FY21, which is thrice that of last year.
  3. Enrolments under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) reached 154.7 million till December 2019 since its launch.
  4. Going forward, increasing life expectancy, favourable savings and greater employment in the private sector is expected to fuel demand for pension plans. Likewise, strong growth in the automotive industry over the next decade would be a key driver for the motor insurance market.
  5.  Crop insurance segment contributed 21.6 percent to gross direct premiums of non-life insurance companies in FY20 (till December 2019). 
  6. Customers can now pay their health insurance premium in instalments. Earlier, health insurance companies used to collect the insurance premiums from customers on an annual basis.
  7. Enrolments under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) reached 154.7 million till December 2019 since the launch of this scheme.
  8. Strong growth in the automotive industry over the next decade will be a key driver of motor insurance.

The Premium collection through the new business in this sector shows the insurance market share by the Public sector insurance company LIC and the private players. In both the cases the new business premium collection is upward trending (Refer Chart-1).

Source : IRDA

In chart -2, the total premium collection including the existing policies are presented. This is also showing an uptrend in the total premium collection.

Source : IRDA

Dr. Tushar Panigrahi, Assistant Professor, Unitedworld School of Business (UWSB)

Disclaimer: The opinions / views expressed in this article are solely of the author in his / her individual capacity. They do not purport to reflect the opinions and/or views of the College and/or University or its members.

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