Gross direct premium written by non-life insurers declined by 10.7% to Rs 15,784.66 crore in March from Rs 17,672.89 crore in the same month last year, largely due to the lockdown across India to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, the premium for the previous financial year was Rs 1.89 lakh crore as compared to Rs 1.69 lakh crore seen in FY19, an increase of 11.7%, according to data from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDI). But with Indian growth likely to slow down this financial year, insurers believe it will be a challenging time for the general insurance industry, particularly in the motor insurance segment.
Motor insurance currently accounts for 38–40% of the new premium in the non-life industry and weak auto sales numbers will affect the motor insurance business in the coming months. Mahesh Balasubramanian, MD and CEO of Kotak General Insurance, says, “This year is very challenging on the motor side of the business. Consumption and consumer spending will decrease this year and so business that is largely driven by consumer spending or consumer consumption will probably slow down. He also said that his focus will be on health insurance and personal accident (PA) this financial year.
25 general insurance companies such as SBI General Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance and Bharti AXA General Insurance saw strong growth in the last financial year. However, ICICI Lombard General Insurance and Tata AIG General Insurance have seen negative growth in their gross direct premiums in the last financial year, this data from IRDI shows. New India Assurance continued to be the market leader with 14.11% market share in the last financial year.
Insurance players are confident that business in health insurance will move forward as investors will understand the importance of health insurance after recent crises. After motor insurance, health insurance has a market share of about 26–28% in the non-life insurance industry.
Insurance business may see growth in the first quarter of the fiscal year due to the extended lockdown, however, this segment has seen an increase in health and policies that can protect business in times such as closures or special crises. , “Said Care Ratings in its report.
Standalone private health insurers saw a high growth of 26.92% and a premium of Rs 14,409.98 crore in the last financial year. Even specific public sector insurers such as ECGC and AIC saw growth of 30.24%.