Insurance is a part of financial services apart from banking, capital market, money market etc. Insurance is considered as a protection from events which results into financial loss. The insurance industry in India comprises of life insurance, general insurance, stand alone health insurance and reinsurance. The Indian insurance industry is guided by Insurance Act, 1938 which was amended from time to time, the latest amendment happened in 2015.
This post briefly gives an overview of insurance sector in India particularly discussing about the regulator, life insurance, general insurance, stand alone health insurance and reinsurance. The life insurance comprises of around 79% of the market, the rest 21% is occupied by general insurance. Of the general insurance, motor insurance has the highest market share of 44% followed by health insurance having market share of 29%, as per IRDAI Annual Report 2015-16. It is worth to mention that the insurance industry in India has showed a significant growth after it got opened for private sector in the year 2000. Since then, the industry is growing rapidly. In 2015, the reinsurance sector was allowed for foreign players which were solely dominated by General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re). A small discussion about regulator, life insurance, stand alone health insurance and reinsurance is mentioned below.
Regulator: Indian insurance industry is regulated by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) which was formed by an Act of Parliament in 1999. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Act was passed in 1999 leading to the formation of IRDAI. IRDAI is headquartered in Hyderabad and has offices in New Delhi and Mumbai. The regulator is responsible for carrying various activities like granting license to insurance companies, framing regulations which the insurers need to follow, protecting policyholder’s interest etc. Breach of IRDAI regulations can have serious implications resulting from penalty to cancellation of license of the insurance company.
Life Insurance: At present, there are 24 life insurers in India, of which, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is wholly owned by the Government of India. LIC was formed in September 1956 by an Act of Parliament known as LIC Act, 1956. Some of the private life insurers include ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, HDFC Standard Life Insurance, SBI Life Insurance etc.
General Insurance: Non-life or general insurance comprises of all kinds of insurance except life. It has various segments comprising of motor insurance, health insurance, fire insurance, marine insurance, engineering insurance, aviation insurance, satellite insurance etc. There are 33 non-life insurers operating in India consisting of public and private insurers. The public insurers include the following:
- The New India Assurance Co Ltd. (NIACL), headquartered at Mumbai.
- National Insurance Co Ltd. (NICL), headquartered at Kolkata.
- Oriental Insurance Co Ltd (OIICL), headquartered at New Delhi.
- United India Insurance Co Ltd (UIICL), headquartered at Chennai.
- Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC)
- Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AIC)
ECGC and AIC are known as specialized insurers. Apart from above mentioned public sector companies, some of the private non-life insurers include ICICI Lombard, HDFC Ergo General Insurance, SBI General Insurance, IFFCO Tokio General Insurance, Tata AIG General Insurance etc.
Standalone Health Insurance: These are those companies which are solely carrying their business on health insurance. There are six stand alone health insurers like Apollo Munich Health Insurance, Star and Allied Health Insurance, Max Bupa Health Insurance, Cigna TTK Health Insurance, Religare Health Insurance and Aditya Birla Health Insurance. One of the ways to recognize the stand alone health insurers is that the stand alone health insurers will have the word “health insurance” in the name of the company as in the above mentioned six stand alone health insurers.
Reinsurance: General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re) is owned by the Government of India and is the national reinsurer which is headquartered at Mumbai. The reinsurance industry in India is now opened for foreign players to open their branch offices in after the Insurance Act, 1938 was amended in 2015. At present there are 9 foreign reinsurers who have opened their branch offices in India. They are mentioned below:
- Swiss Re
- Munich Re
- Llyod’s India
- Reinsurance Group f America (RGA)
- Hannover Re
- XL Insurance Company
- Axa France Vie
- General Reinsurance AG
It is important to note that apart from GIC Re and the above mentioned foreign reinsurers, ITI Re is the first private Indian reinsurance company which got licensed by IRDAI. Hence the Indian reinsurers include GIC Re and ITI Re.
Apart from the above players, the insurance industry also comprises of various intermediaries and distribution channels like agents, brokers, Insurance Marketing Firms (IMF), Web Aggregators etc. which I will discuss in separate post.
One thing to be noted is that the insurers in India can take part in either life insurance or general insurance business and not both. This means that a life insurer cannot start their business of motor insurance, fire insurance etc and vice versa. Health insurance is the only insurance product which can be offered by both non-life and life insurers. Non-life insurers can sell separate health insurance policy while life insurers offer health insurance in the form of riders. Riders are the extra benefits which are covered by paying some extra premium. Example of riders include Accidental Death Benefit (ADB) rider, critical illness rider etc. Life insurers cannot offer separate health insurance products.
– Ashish Kumar