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Insurance is a contract, represented by a policy, in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. The company pools clients' risks to make payments more affordable for the insured.
Insurance policies are used to hedge against the risk of financial losses, both big and small, that may result from damage to the insured or her property, or from liability for damage or injury caused to a third party.
There are a multitude of different types of insurance policies available, and virtually any individual or business can find an insurance company willing to insure them, for a price. The most common types of personal insurance policies are auto, health, homeowners, and life. Most individuals in the United States have at least one of these types of insurance, and car insurance is required by law.
Businesses require special types of insurance policies that insure against specific types of risks faced by the particular business. For example, a fast food restaurant needs a policy that covers damage or injury that occurs as a result of cooking with a deep fryer. An auto dealer is not subject to this type of risk but does require coverage for damage or injury that could occur during test drives. There are also insurance policies available for very specific needs, such as kidnap and ransom (K&R), medical malpractice, and professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance.
The insurance industry of India consists of 63 insurance companies of which 24 are in life insurance business and 39 are non-life insurers. Among the life insurers, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) is the sole public sector company. Apart from that, among the non-life insurers, there are seven public sector insurers. In addition to these, there are two national re-insurer. Other stakeholders in Indian Insurance market include agents (individual and corporate), brokers, surveyors and third party administrators servicing health insurance claims.
Government's policy of insuring the uninsured has gradually pushed insurance penetration in the country and proliferation of insurance schemes.
Gross premiums written in India reached Rs 5.53 trillion (US$ 94.48 billion) in FY18, with Rs 4.58 trillion (US$ 71.1 billion) from life insurance and Rs 1.51 trillion (US$ 23.38 billion) from non-life insurance. Overall insurance penetration (premiums as % of GDP) in India reached 3.69 per cent in 2017 from 2.71 per cent in 2001.
In FY19 (up to Jan 2019), premium from new life insurance business increased 3.91 per cent year-on-year to Rs 1.59 trillion (US$ 22.04 billion). In FY19 (up to Jan 2019), gross direct premiums of non-life insurers reached Rs 1.39 trillion (US$ 19.28 billion), showing a year-on-year growth rate of 12.65 per cent.
Investments and Recent Developments
The following are some of the major investments and developments in the Indian insurance sector.
• As of November 2018, HDFC Ergo is in advanced talks to acquire Apollo Munich Health Insurance at a valuation of around Rs 2,600 crore (US$ 370.05 million).
• In October 2018, Indian e-commerce major Flipkart entered the insurance space in partnership with Bajaj Allianz to offer mobile insurance.
• In August 2018, a consortium of WestBridge Capital, billionaire investor Mr Rakesh Jhunjunwala announced that it would acquire India’s largest health insurer Star Health and Allied Insurance in a deal estimated at around US$ 1 billion.
• In September 2018, HDFC Ergo launched ‘E@Secure’ a cyber insurance policy for individuals.
• Insurance sector companies in India raised around Rs 434.3 billion (US$ 6.7 billion) through public issues in 2017.
• In 2017, insurance sector in India saw 10 merger and acquisition (M&A) deals worth US$ 903 million.
• India's leading bourse Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) will set up a joint venture with Ebix Inc to build a robust insurance distribution network in the country through a new distribution exchange platform.
The Government of India has taken a number of initiatives to boost the insurance industry.
Some of them are as follows:
• In September 2018, National Health Protection Scheme was launched under Ayushman Bharat to provide coverage of up to Rs 500,000 (US$ 7,723) to more than 100 million vulnerable families. The scheme is expected to increase penetration of health insurance in India from 34 per cent to 50 per cent.
• Over 47.9 million famers were benefitted under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in 2017-18.
• The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) plans to issue redesigned initial public offering (IPO) guidelines for insurance companies in India, which are to looking to divest equity through the IPO route.
• IRDAI has allowed insurers to invest up to 10 per cent in additional tier 1 (AT1) bonds that are issued by banks to augment their tier 1 capital, in order to expand the pool of eligible investors for the banks.
The future looks promising for the life insurance industry with several changes in regulatory framework which will lead to further change in the way the industry conducts its business and engages with its customers.
The overall insurance industry is expected to reach US$ 280 billion by 2020. Life insurance industry in the country is expected grow by 12-15 per cent annually for the next three to five years.
Demographic factors such as growing middle class, young insurable population and growing awareness of the need for protection and retirement planning will support the growth of Indian life insurance. .