Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Private life insurance companies still struggling

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has again come to the rescue of the industry in the financial year ending July 2012. While 23 private players together have a marginal dip in business (-1 pct), LIC has powered ahead with 23 pct growth in new business premium collection.

I sometimes wonder how this is possible. How is it that LIC manages to stay ahead most of the time. “Frequent changes in regulations” is what we hear most when we try to assign a reason for the dip in business for private life insurance companies.

In spite of a being such a large organisation with an equally large agent force, LIC seems to be able to come up on top. Surely, the changes in regulations are much more difficult to drive down with such a large agent force. And given the changes in regulations and the cut in commission levels of some products, it would have been quite a task to motivate and direct the large agent force. A more detailed analysis on this probably at a later date.

Selling insurance through kirana stores

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India is considered to be a large untapped market for insurance products. There seems to be enough scope for improvement on the insurance density and insurance penetration counts for the country. While this is true, the challenge lies in reaching out to the large population in the rural areas where the traditional financial distribution channels just don’t make economic sense.

FDI in insurance — to hike or not to hike?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

FDI in insurance might just be increased to 49 pct. This sounds way too familiar and has been the situation for quite a long time now. Or we could do some scenario building and even see it being delayed by a few more years.

Life insurance business remains almost stagnant

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The life insurance industry in India is still struggling on the growth front while the general insurance industry seems to be doing well. The life insurance industry grew by a marginal 1.4 pct while the general insurance industry grew by 18.3 pct. This is based on data released by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) for the first two months of the financial year.

Can we provide more cover at lower costs?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

When it comes to financial products, does the general rule “low cost = low quality” hold true? By quality, I mean the quality of experience and service levels that should be expected from a standardised product.

Health insurance in new, improved avatar

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

“Till now our focus was to work as a development authority but now it has been more than a decade and it is time to act as a regulatory authority,” Hari Narayan, the chairman of India’s Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) was quoted as saying in a recent interview.

More joining the general insurance party in India

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Well, I don’t know if it should be called a party. But while there have been talks of a few exits (or shall we say strategic re-alignment) in the life insurance space, we have seen three new entrants in the general insurance space in the last few months.

Slow death for push marketing of insurance?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Just five of the 23 life insurance companies in India (I have excluded Edelweiss Tokio as they are new entrants) could increase their premium collection in 2011-2012 over the previous year. In fact, none of the top 10 premium collectors of 2010-2011 could increase their sales in 2011-2012. Why so?

Tax breaks only if insurance cover is 10 times annual premium

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Tax exemption under Section 80C is one of the major drivers of insurance sales. In fact, it has become a trend to launch a new variant of single-premium plans in February-March to cater to those who just want to make some investment to avail tax benefits.

Taking health insurance for granted

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Chances are you haven’t given this much thought. It would be part of some document which you signed when you joined the company. For a majority of those in the corporate world, health insurance is provided by the employer — to such an extent that you take it for granted.

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