India General Insurance: Private Sector Dominates Public in April
By Georgi Ninov - Research Analyst
The increase in gross direct premiums in the Indian non-life insurance sector continued into the new financial year 2018-19, with a 13.8% annual surge in April. In absolute terms, the premiums for the month amounted to 138.8bn INR compared to 122bn INR in April 2017. More notably, private firms’ premiums were prevalent over public companies’ (67bn to 65bn INR) which historically has rarely been the case. Premiums from private insurers also recorded higher annual growth than their public counterparts – 15% to 11.8%.
The public insurance companies continued to be important players on the market with New India having the biggest share of total premiums – 18.3%, followed by National Insurance (10.5%). United India and Oriental were also in the top 5, with 9.7% and 9.3% market share respectively. ICICI Lombard had a record high premium influx (13.5bn INR) equivalent to 9.7% of the total premium share for the month – the only private company in the top 5. Bajaj Allianz also had a strong performance and was the other private sector firm, apart from ICICI Lombard, that passed the 5% barrier of total premium share.
The monthly growth in total premiums naturally reflects on the individual performance of the firms. Almost all of the companies in the sub-sector recorded annual rise, the growth of the vast majority being over 10%. Most of the big players grew between 10-20%, with the exception of Bajaj Allianz which had an impressive 35% annual surge. United India, on the other hand, had a second disappointing month in a row and were among the only three companies (and only public one) with an annual decrease (-3.4%).
India is one of the largest and fastest growing developing markets and the insurance sector is getting an increasingly bigger role both in terms of domestic and foreign investment. Although life insurance is dominating the market (around 75% of total premiums), general insurance is getting traction and its growth is stronger in recent years. The Indian government is actively trying to boost the sector, mostly by moderating FDI regulations. Nevertheless, the long history of public monopoly and the constantly developing regulatory framework are hindering the sectoral progress.