[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:53 AM]
L&T General Insurance, a unit of engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen & Toubro (L&T), is set to merge with the Indian unit of Future Generali India Insurance.

L&T, Generali Group and the Future Group have signed a non binding term sheet for the merger of L&T General Insurance and Future Generali India Insurance. Post merger of the companies, L&T will hold 51 % stake, Generali and Future Group will hold 26% and 23% stake respectively in the newly formed company.

The completion of the transaction is subject to the receipt of the necessary approvals from governmental and regulatory authorities, including the CCI and the IRDA.

Pantaloon Retail (India) has entered into a share purchase agreement to sell its stake in insurance business. Even as L & T has not announced the value of the deal, it is believed that 51 % stake in the merged company would be valued at around Rs. 560 crore.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 3:07 PM]
Private life insurer SBI Life has unveils an online life insurance plan – eShield. It’s a Pure Term, Non-Linked, Non-Participating insurance plan which provides high insurance covers at attractive premiums.

Consumers can opt from 4 variants of the plan according to their requirement:

Level Cover- The Effective Sum Assured in this option is the Basic Sum Assured chosen at Policy Inception.
Level Cover with Accidental Death Benefit-The Effective Sum Assured in this option is the Basic Sum Assured chosen at Policy Inception. There is an inbuilt rider of Accidental Death Benefit where an additional Death Benefit due to an accident would be paid which is equal to the Basic Sum Assured or Rs 50 lacs, whichever is lower.
Increasing Cover- The Effective Sum Assured in this plan is the Basic Sum Assured which increases by 10% simple interest after every 5th policy year without increase in premium.
Increasing Cover with Accidental Death Benefit-The Effective Sum Assured in this plan is the Basic Sum Assured which increases by 10% simple interest after every 5th policy year without increase in premium. There is an inbuilt rider of Accidental Death Benefit where an additional Death Benefit due to an accident would be paid which is equal to the Basic Sum Assured or Rs 50 lacs, whichever is lower.

Key Features of eShield:
Security of your family at an affordable premium
Rewards you for maintaining a healthy life style
Wide variety of plan options, which has level and increasing cover
Additional benefit of Accidental Death Benefit, and
Tax benefit under section 80C and 10(10D) of Income Tax Act, 1961.
Entry Age:
Minimum: 18 Years
Maximum: For Level Cover & Level Cover with Accidental Death Benefit- 65 Years and
For Increasing Cover & Increasing Cover with Accidental Death Benefit -60 Years Maturity Age: 70 Years
Aum Assured: Minimum: Rs.20,00,000 and Maximum: No Limit (subject to underwriting)Sum Assured would be in multiple of Rs.1,00,000.
Policy Term: Minimum:
For Level Cover & Level Cover with Accidental Death Benefit -5 Years
For Increasing Cover & Increasing Cover with Accidental Death Benefit- 10 Years
Policy Term: Maximum: 30 Years
Premium Paying Term: Same as policy term
Premium Amount: Minimum: Rs.3, 500 and Maximum: No Limit
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Monday, March 25, 2013 2:24 PM]
On Monday, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Life Insurance Company (RLIC) has announced the launch of a new family health insurance plan- 'Reliance Life Care for You Advantage Plan', which offers full coverage for the entire family under a single policy.

Reliance Life Care for You Advantage Plan provides comprehensive coverage for hospitalisation, surgeries and critical illnesses for the entire family including primary member, spouse, children, as well as parents and parents-in-laws, the insurer said in a statement.

"The key feature of the policy is that it allows an insured to pay a fixed premium for a three-year policy. This premium remains fixed for the three-year period, irrespective of the number of claims taken by the insured during the validity of the policy," it added.

The coverage offered by this plan ranges from Rs 2-10 lacs with a NCB (No Claim Bonus) of 5% of the Sum Assured for every claim-free year up to a maximum of 30 %. It also covers pre-existing illness, after continuing it for four continuous years.

Reliance Life Insurance, along with its third party administrators (TPA), has a network of over 4,000 hospitals across the country to provide cashless hospitalization benefits to the policyholders.

"With our new health insurance solution, we are offering the much needed financial security to the customers to meet their health related contingencies and would continue to service them with innovative products”, Reliance Life Insurance newly appointed CEO, Anup Rau said.

Reliance Life Insurance Company is a joint venture between Reliance Capital Ltd., an Indian financial services company and Japanese insurance giant Nippon Life.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Friday, March 22, 2013 4:27 PM]
The largest insurer of the country Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India has picked up one-third of Nalco's shares that the government had divested last week, through the Offer For Sale (OFS) route.

On March 15th the government collected in over Rs 620 crore through the sale of its 6 % stake in the Odisha-based aluminium producer Nalco. Nalco in its filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), said that LIC had 5.040 % stake in Nalco, it acquired additional 5,24,82,219, or 2.036 % stake through the Offer For Sale.

After this, the state-run insurer holds 182,365,523 shares or 7.076 % stake in the company.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Thursday, March 21, 2013 5:51 PM]
Private life insurer Aegon Religare Life’s Managing Director & CEO, Mr. Jamkhedkar is likely to step down from the post, a person close to the development said.

Mr. K.S. Gopalakrishnan, the appointed actuary of the company is likely to be promoted to replace Mr. Jamkhedkar. However, the insurer has not yet confirmed the development.

The company has witnessed a drop in income for the April-February period; the company's new business premium income was down 32.27%. According to the experts, shareholders are looking to change the top management of life insurance companies, which are likely to face challenges after the sector regulator tweaked norms of traditional products. Companies will have to focus on efficiency and manage expenses within a limit based on the nature of the product.

Aegon Religare Life Insurance Company is joint venture between India's Religare Enterprises, Dutch insurance giant Aegon and Bennett, Coleman & Company.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 12:40 PM]
The Samajwadi Party (SP), a key ally of the Congress-led UPA-ll government has said it would oppose pension and insurance reforms bill.

The insurance reforms bill raises foreign direct investment ceiling to 49% from existing 26%. Whereas; the pension bill suggests to open up pension sector to foreign investors for the first time.

"We will continue to support the government but we are against foreign direct investment (FDI) in insurance and pension sectors," SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.

On Tuesday, DMK, an another key ally of the government withdrew its support from the ruling coalition in protest against the government's position on a U.N. resolution on Sri Lanka
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 4:03 PM]
On Monday, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) asked all life insurance companies to adopt a standard proposal form for policyholders seeking insurance cover, which will bring uniformity and transparency in the life insurance space.

When an industry grows fast in a short period of time, it is easy for unfair practices to creep in unnoticed in the heat of the competition.

The regulator already has Regulations for insurers and intermediaries on issues relating to the point of sale.

Besides, it has identified that a ‘Needs Analysis’ or a ‘Suitability Analysis’ on the prospect by the intermediary or insurer would curb wrong advice and mis-selling.

The regulator has identified a Standard Proposal Form which contains column for personal information and suitability analysis for the policyholder.

The regulator in its notification said, “The objective of this regulation is to provide for a standard proposal form for individual policies in life insurance that has an inbuilt flexibility for seeking specialised information that is product specific to a particular product category.”

These guidelines has come into effect from February 16, 2013, said the notification.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Monday, March 18, 2013 4:36 PM]
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has set up a committee to review the practices in insurance broking, review the entire IRDA (Insurance Brokers) Regulations, 2002 and evolve a standardised process to assess the gravity of violation for imposition of appropriate penalties.

The committee will also look into possibility of allowing the broker to apply afresh to the authority in case the authority has cancelled or refused the renewal of licence of an insurance broker as well as related matter in insurance broking.

The insurance watchdog, in its statement said that they have taken a decision to review insurance broking, in wake of issues like violation of regulations by some brokers, proposal to let banks become insurance brokers and draft on sub-broking.

“This may pose new challenges in monitoring activities and regulating the insurance brokers”, the regulator said in its statement citing to the Budget 2013-14 which permits banks to act as insurance brokers.

The seven member committee will be headed by Mr. Suresh Mathur, Senior Joint Director of IRDA. Other members of the committee include officials from IRDA, General Insurance Corporation, New India Assurance, SBI Life and IBAI. The committee is supposed to submit its report on or before April 30, 2013.

As of now the regulator has issued 345 insurance broker licences which is valid for three years from the issue date. Recently, the regulator has also said it has formed a committee to look into aspects of sub-broking in India and the committee submitted its report.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Thursday, March 14, 2013 3:35 PM]
Insurance CEOs are excited about the proposals announced by the Finance Minister P Chidambaram in his Budget speech that make it easier to distribute policies through banks by allowing them to act as brokers.

However, they are keeping their fingers crossed over the promise made by government to raise FDI ceiling in insurance to 49% from existing 26%. The proposals include allowing insurers to open offices in tier II cities without IRDA permission and permitting banks to sell policies of different companies.

The issue was one among many debated at the Business Standard Insurance Roundtable held recently in Mumbai. It was attended by CEOs of five insurance companies. Mr. R K Nair, Member, Finance & Investment, represented the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).

Mr. Nair emphasized the need for the sector to grow. "We are happy with the Budget proposal of letting banks become insurance brokers”, he said.

Although insurers agree with the need of the reforms in distribution, they are not so optimistic about the outcome of the Budget proposal.

"It is not easy for banks to sell products of multiple insurers. They may sell it because they would get more money and not because customers want it. But is there enough money?,” asked Mr. Amitabh Chaudhry, MD & CEO, HDFC Life Insurance.

Mr. G. Srinivasan, CMD, New India Assurance, said banks had not been investing resources in training people. "Through these reforms, banks would be made more accountable," he said.

Mr. Suresh Mahalingam, MD & CEO, Tata AIA Life Insurance, said for the sector to return to the golden era of 2004-2008, an enabling distribution and profitability was needed. "Opening up bancassurance is a pre-requisite for the industry to grow and it augurs well."

Mr. Bhargav Dasgupta, MD & CEO, ICICI Lombard General Insurance said, “Banks could sell the good product of one segment of one company, coupled with a product of another segment by another company. This will help banks to cater to consumers in a better way.

There was a consensus on the need for faster product approval. New India Assurance CMD Mr. Srinivasan said the regulator needed to have a process of clearing new products by examining the basic features and letting companies innovate. While ICICI Lombard General MD & CEO Mr. Dasgupta said the scope of mis-selling was also low, as the product structure was comparatively simpler.

Instead of following the current model of sending out an 'exposure draft' to companies and then taking a decision, the insurers called for better collaboration with companies to enable a strong industry-regulator interface.

IRDA representative, Mr. Nair said, “In comparison to China and Brazil, we are slightly better off. Though, penetration in India seems to have fallen, that of the world on an average, has also fallen.”

"We can look forward to a better period in the coming year,” he added.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 6:05 PM]
It’s a good news for those using expensive mobile handsets as the leading mobile manufacturer in India, Nokia India has joined hands with State owned insurer New India Assurance (NIA) to provide insurance cover to new Nokia handset from loss, thefts and burglary.

It also includes damage caused by accidental entry of fluid in the device’s internal circuitry, loss of device through housebreaking, loss of device riots, strikes and other malicious acts.

However, the insurance cover does not apply to regular wear and tear. The insurance premium will be 1.25 % of the cost of the phone or Rs 50, whichever is higher.

To avail the benefits of this unique scheme, the consumers will have to buy a Nokia phone from a Nokia branded retail store, pay the insurance premium and receive the insurance certificate at the store itself. To claim the insurance, consumers will need to file a written report with police authorities and report the loss of SIM to the concerned network service provider and acknowledgement to be furnished.

The scheme will be available from March 14, 2013 initially in Delhi & NCR, Jaipur, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Cochin.

Mr. Segar Sampath Kumar, General Manager, New India Assurance, said “Based on our deep understanding of the segment, we are looking to provide Nokia consumers with a seamless solution that is as easy to claim, as it is to buy.”

Kannan Gopalakrishnan, Director Retail, Nokia India said, “The NIA insurance plan is aimed at safeguarding Nokia consumers against the anxiety caused by loss, theft or damage of their devices, while offering them an affordable and effective solution to protect their investments. We believe with the changing consumer landscape and the growing penetration of smartphones in India, this plan is sure to see strong uptake amongst our consumers.”
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 5:50 PM]
Private sector insurer Bharti Axa General Insurance Company is expecting to cut down its underwriting losses in next fiscal year and increase the investment income, a senior official said yesterday.

Mr. Amaranath Ananthanarayanan, Chief Executive, Bharti Axa General Insurance said, “We hope that underwriting losses will be lower in the next fiscal year and we are on track to break even by December 2014.”

According to the company, the underwriting losses of the company came down to Rs 176 crores in the first nine months of current financial year from Rs 187 crores in corresponding period last year.

“The data points were not comparable for the two periods due to changes in the motor pool norms”, Mr. Ananthanarayanan added. He is also hopeful of improving investment income in 2013.

According to the Chief Financial Officer Mr. Sampath Kumar, the company is expecting its investment income to grow by around 15% in 2013 and the company aims to attain a growth of 35% in revenue in the next FY.

Bharti Axa General Insurance is a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises, an Indian business conglomerate and French firm Axa group in which Bharti Enterprises holds 74 % stake.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Monday, March 11, 2013 3:02 PM]
Sensing the importance of overseas Indian workers in the country's development, the government of India has recently announced a new pension and life insurance scheme for overseas Indian workers that would allow over five million workers, especially those working in the Gulf, to save money for the future.

Addressing the 10th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Jaipur the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh announced the government’s decision to introduce and sponsor the Pension and Life Insurance Fund. “The scheme will encourage the overseas workers to voluntarily save money for their resettlement and old age”, Dr. Singh said.

There were over 1,900 delegates from 60 countries present in the seminar.

“The scheme will encourage, enable and assist overseas workers to voluntarily save for their return and resettlement and old age. The scheme, which was recently cleared by the Cabinet, will also provide a low-cost life insurance cover against natural death”, he added.

Under the scheme, the government would co-contribute Rs 1,000 per annum for all subscribers who contribute between Rs 1,000 and Rs 12,000 per annum. Overseas women workers would enjoy a special additional co- contribution of Rs 1,000 per annum.

“This scheme fulfils a long-pending demand of our workers abroad,” Dr. Singh said.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Thursday, March 07, 2013 5:08 PM]
To protest against the proposed Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill 2008, approximately 14 lac agents of the largest insurer of the country Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India are on one day strike today.

Life Insurance Agents’ Federation of India (LIAFI) — the umbrella organisation of life insurance agents — are specifically opposing the proposed amendment to certain Sections (40, 40(2), 44, and so on) of the Insurance Act, 1938. These sections deal with ceiling on commissions, compulsion on insurance companies to pay the renewal commission after termination, and so on.

Mr. Shyamal Chakraborty, Secretary-General, Life Insurance Agents’ Federation of India said, “These amendments will result in the demise of the agency force and put the interest of crores of policyholders at stake.”

“These agents are also planning to hold a procession at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar area on 22nd March, 2013 if the Government does not respond positively,” he added.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Wednesday, March 06, 2013 3:18 PM]
On Tuesday, the largest general insurer of the country New India Assurance has announced the launch of a portal to enable customers to buy policies online.

The state-run insurer will offer products in motor, health, travel and personal accident segment through this portal along with policy renewal facilities, the company said in a release .

According to the press release, the company will offer products of comprehensive private car and two-wheeler insurance, health insurance , personal accident and overseas mediclaim policy.

The customer portal 'online.newindia.co.in' will also allow policy renewals. The existing customers would also be able to link their policies and track their claims among others.

The insurer also launched 'Anywhere Any Time Renewal' facility through which a customer can renew policy in its 1,500 offices and also online, the release said.

The insurer also said in the statement that it would launch its mobility solutions soon, which will have the facility to take and renew the insurance policies offered by it..

New India Assurance had registered a net profit of Rs 517 cr in the first nine months of the current fiscal (April-December).
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Tuesday, March 05, 2013 4:08 PM]
On Monday, private life insurer Aegon Religare Life Insurance announced the launch of its Aegon Religare Assured Returns Insurance Plan which offers guaranteed payouts once the premium paying term is over.Mr. Yateesh Srivastava, Chief Marketing Officer & Head (Talent), said in a statement, “The Aegon Religare Assured Returns Insurance Plan has the benefit of providing a guaranteed return to customers for a period equivalent to the premium-paying term, once all premiums have been paid. It comes with two premium payment terms of seven years and 10 years.”

“This plan is meant for customers looking at safe and secured returns with very little risk,” he added.

The payout period is defined as the period starting from one year after the end of the policy term for a period equal to the policy term. The policy offers maturity benefit in the form of a guaranteed percentage of the annual premium. After the end of the policy term of seven or 10 years, at the end of each year, it offers 150 or 175 % of the annual premium, for the number of years equal to the policy term.

In case of unfortunate death of the insured during the policy term, all the future premiums are waived-off and the nominee receives the guaranteed payout, as per the policy, during the payout period. It also offers an option to the nominee to take the present value of the future payout at any point in time, during the policy term.

The minimum age required to enter into the plan is 25 years whereas the maximum is 53 or 50 years, depending on the tenure of the policy. The maximum age at maturity is 60 years.

Minimum annual premium for people less than 45 years of age is Rs 25,000 with a maximum of Rs 2,50,000. And, people above 45 years of age is Rs 40,000, with a maximum of Rs 2,50,000 per annum.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Monday, March 04, 2013 12:15 PM]
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) may come out with a new policy giving automatic clearance to standard life insurance products and relax investment guidelines to encourage flow of funds into infrastructure sector, Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Namo Narian Meena said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

The insurance watchdog has constituted Working Groups in consultation with the Life Insurance Council to set-out parameters and framework within which standard life insurance products can be automatically cleared, he added.

In order to canalise funds into infrastructure sector, IRDA has amended its Investment Regulations recently. Some prominent features of these regulations are as follows:(a) Permitted investments in the category of ‘other than approved investments’ to qualify for the investments mandatory requirement of investing in 15% of life fund in ‘Housing and Infrastructure category’.

(b) Investments in “Infrastructure Debt Funds” backed by central government as approved by IRDA shall be reckoned for investments in infrastructure.

(c) Reduced the mandated outstanding tenure of infrastructure bonds from 10 years to 5 years.

(d) The exposure of any insurer to an infrastructure company has been increased to 20% as against the single investee company exposure norms of 10%. The limit can further be increased by another 5% in case of Debt with the prior approval of the Board.

(e) Permitted investments in infrastructure SPVs to the extent of 20% of the project cost subject to appropriate guarantees by the parent company/ companies and meeting the specified eligibility criteria.

(f) Investments in infrastructure are excluded from the applicability of industry sector exposure norms.

Both, life and non-life insurance sectors have started up numerous steps for increasing insurance penetration countrywide. These include opening of new offices in small towns and launching of new products.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Saturday, March 02, 2013 12:12 PM]
On Tuesday, Mr. Namo Narian Meena, Minister of State for Finance said in the Rajya Sabha that the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has taken several initiatives to educate the consumers against mis-selling of insurance products and unfair business practices of insurance companies.

In order to educate consumers on insurance, the regulator has already launched a website www.policyholder.gov.in in June last year. Policyholder Handbooks are also uploaded on the website. Every insurer in India has on its website a link to regulator’s education website www.policyholder.gov.in .

“Information alerting consumers against mis-selling is provided by the insurance regulator in various languages via mass media such as television, radio, print and Internet and other channels,” said Mr. Meena.

In another step to stop mis-selling, the regulator has published a series of comic books titled ‘Ranjan and his tryst with insurance’ which are being distributed through various channels.  The Comic book series have also been converted into animation films.

IRDA also supports seminars by various consumer bodies to spread the message on guarding against mis-selling.

Various insurance companies are integrated with Integrated Grievance Management System (IGMS) on a real time basis and all complaints registered in the systems of various insurance companies are mirrored in the central repository of IGMS. The IRDA analyses the complaints and publishes the same periodically. The data published by IRDA is also available on its Consumer Education Website.

The IGMS has helped improve efficiency of insurance companies in handling complaints and identify systemic issues for corrective action. IGMS thus offers a tool to IRDA to monitor certain aspects of market conduct.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Saturday, March 02, 2013 12:11 PM]
The largest insurer of the country Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India has announced the launch of its new life insurance plan- Jeevan Sugam. It’s a non-linked single premium conventional closed ended plan.

Jeevan Sugam can be purchased for a limited period only. It provides for a risk cover of ten times the single premium paid for a fixed term of ten years. On survival, maturity sum assured along with loyalty addition shall be paid to the policyholder. The amount of loyalty addition shall depend on LIC’s claim experience.

The policy shall be eligible for tax benefit under section 80 C as per existing provisions of Income Tax Act.
[Posted by: InsuringIndia News on Friday, March 01, 2013 2:00 PM]
Presenting the union budget 2013-14, finance minister Mr. P. Chidambaram said that insurance companies can now open branches at will in non-metropolitan cities and become trading members of stock exchanges in the debt segment. Other insurance updates of the budget are:

1)  After getting the essential regulatory approval, Insurance companies will directly be allowed to trade in debt market.

2)  There will be at least one LIC office and one state-run general insurance company office in all cities with population over 10,000.

3)  Banks will be allowed to act as brokers for selling insurance products of multiple companies. Currently, banks are working under the bancassurance policy and can’t sell products of more than one insurance company.

4)  KYC of banks will be eligible for insurance companies to issue policies.

Banking correspondents will be allowed to offer affordable insurance products to the rural and semi-urban population.

5)  The government run health scheme for BPL families working in unorganized sector will be extended to cover autorikshaw drivers, taxi drivers, sanitation workers and rag pickers.