A rising demand for health covers evident since COVID-19 outbreak seems to have come as a booster shot for non-life insurers as they posted a 5.20% increase in gross direct premium underwritten for 2020-21.
Comprising general insurers (all of whom deal in health insurance too); standalone health insurers; and the two specialised PSU insurers (ECGC and Agricultural Insurance Company of India) the non-life segment reported ₹1,98,734.68 crore gross direct premium underwritten. For 2019-20, it totalled ₹1,88,916.61 crore.
Flash figures (provisional and unaudited), released on Tuesday by insurance regulator IRDAI, show gross direct premium underwritten of general insurers (25 companies) increasing 3.35% to ₹1,69,840.05 crore (₹1,64,328.20 crore). These companies between them account for over 85% of the non-life market.
In March, a busy month for insurers on account of customer rush to benefit from tax break available on certain covers, the premium increased 14.59% to ₹15,683.39 crore (₹13,685.87 crore).
The seven stand-alone private health insurers registered ₹15,720.04 crore gross direct premium underwritten or 11.08% more than the ₹14,151.70 crore of previous fiscal. In March, the increase was as much as 41% to ₹2,185.05 crore (₹1,545.83 crore).
While segment wise business figures, of the non-life insurers, for full fiscal are yet to be released, numbers upto February show general and standalone health insurers posting a 13.06% increase in health premium at ₹52,886.54 crore (₹46,777.16 crore). Their performance has also to be seen in the context of no revision in the motor third party tariff, slow pick up in automobile sales as also the weak economic sentiment.
Upto February, motor insurance premium, one of their mainstays, was 3.83% lower at ₹63,268.32 crore. Of this, third party premium at ₹39,067.87 crore was lower by 4.12%.
Company wise, all five standalone health insurers were in the positive zone with Aditya Birla Health Insurance Company posting a 49.15% increase in the gross direct premium underwritten to ₹1,300.64 crore.
Max Bupa reported a growth of 40.86% at ₹1,750.78 crore, while Star Health & Allied Insurance Company, the segment leader, with ₹9,353.39 crore registered a growth of 36.24%. ManipalCigna Health Insurance Company at ₹755.49 crore and Care Health Insurance at ₹2,559.75 crore posted an increase of 31.12% and 7.15% respectively. (Reliance Health Insurance portfolio was taken over by Reliance General Insurance. HDFC ERGO Health Insurance was merged with HDFC ERGO General).
As regards general insurers, the gross direct premium underwritten of 17 companies was higher, compared to the previous fiscal, including two for whom the change was under 1%. The remaining eight saw a decline. Of the four public sector general insurers, market leader New India Assurance Company was the only one whose gross direct premium underwritten increased, by 6.22% to ₹28,481.65 crore.