Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Banks as a shop for insurance

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

The concept of insurance plans being sold through banks is called ‘bancassurance’ and there is a lot of interest in this distribution channel from all the stakeholders - customers, banks, insurance companies and the regulator.

Bank as a distribution channel offers some very distinct advantage for the insurance companies, biggest being a large established network which can operate on a purely variable cost basis. The time and money required to establish something similar is exhaustive and expensive, almost bordering on the impossible.

So the obvious has happened – all big Indian banks have actually become stakeholders in some insurance company or the other.

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.

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.

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