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Nearly 20 new insurance companies in the pipeline: IRDAI chief Debasish Panda

The IRDAI chairman also asked insurers to expedite work on Bima Sugam and state lead insurer mechanism

April 26, 2023 / 12:41 PM IST

ICICI Lombard General Insurance | CMP: Rs 931.90 | Shares slipped over 4 percent as the company's lower-than-expected net earned premium in the March quarter disappointed the Street. The non-life insurer's net earned premium for the quarter rose 12.3 percent year-on-year to Rs 3,726 crore but missed the analysts' estimate of Rs 4,011 crore. In addition to that, the Street was also sceptical of the management's guidance to achieve a 102 percent combined operating ratio by FY25. The company's combined operating ratio was at 104.2 percent in the quarter under review.

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) Chairman Debasish Panda on April 12 said the regulator is in the process of evaluating close to 20 applications for licences from prospective insurance companies.

In 2022-23, three new insurance companies were registered including Acko Life Insurance, Credit Access and Kshema General Insurance. “(Prior to this) the last life insurer was registered in the year 2011. And now in 2023, we have two more life insurance companies. The last general insurance licence registration was in 2017 and now, a new one has come up pretty quickly,” IRDAI chief said.

He stated that the insurance industry is now in a mature phase, having crossed the Rs 10 lakh-crore premium and Rs 59 lakh-crore AUM (assets under management) milestones in the financial year 2022-2023. Both life and non-life sectors registered a growth of around 16 percent in premiums in February 2023.

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“We need to look at catering to the needs of 1.4 billion people, their businesses, properties, health and assets. So, we need more players, capital, distribution channels and products. We need more innovation, and we need more healthy competition amongst the players,” Panda said during his address at FICCI conference.

He asked insurers to develop insurance products tailored to suit the needs of specific customer segments such as gig workers, including delivery and drivers associated with cab ride-hailing apps, who operate at high risk. He placed a strong emphasis on expanding presence in the rural areas through the ASHA and Anganwadi workers’ networks.

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Earlier, in a meeting with insurance company heads, Panda exhorted them to increase their outreach, target newer segments and deepen insurance penetration across the country. He also took stock of the rollout of Bima Sugam platform and state lead insurer scheme.

“Bima Sugam had hit the pause button a couple of months ago, but now there will be a renewed push to get it operational at the earliest. Industry CEOs will be meeting again to review the shareholder pattern and other aspects of the platform,” said a General Insurance Council official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Under the lead insurer mechanism, insurance companies have been assigned states and have to take the lead in liaising with the state governments.

“For example, in the case of motor insurance, they can impress upon the state governments the importance of vehicles on the roads being covered under insurance (third-party liability insurance is mandatory as per law, yet nearly 50 percent of vehicles remain uninsured, as per industry estimates). The state transport ministries can access data on uninsured vehicles and direct officials on the ground to take action. A mechanism will also have to be put in place to issue motor policies instantly,” the official said.

Preeti Kulkarni
Preeti Kulkarni is a financial journalist with over 13 years of experience. Based in Mumbai, she covers the personal finance beat for Moneycontrol. She focusses primarily on insurance, banking, taxation and financial planning