Life insurers' premium collections up 13% in 2010

Irda Chairman J Harinarayan

The growth comes in the backdrop of significant regulatory changes made in product profile of Ulips (unit- linked insurance products) in 2010, which was also a year in which a few private life insurers completed a decade of operations, the Life Insurance Council said.

As per data released by the council — which is the apex industry body of all life insurance companies in India — it is apparent that companies continue to trim costs. The number of direct employees has reduced from 2,67,819 to 2,49,635, translating into a reduction of 18,184 in their total headcount in 2010 vis-a-vis 2009. The number of agents also dipped by 2,73,984 to 27,10,301 in the 2010 calendar year from 29,84,285 in 2009. Life Insurance Corporation, the only state-owned life insurer, also reduced its agent strength by 62,956 during the year.

The new business premium of life insurance companies has grew by 28 per cent year-on-year to Rs 86,854 crore in 2010 from Rs 67,604 crore in the previous year.
However, this increase is attributed to the fact that the industry saw a surge in new business premium collections before the new Ulip regulations came into force on September 1, 2010, the Council said.

“If you compare the new business premium collected in rupee terms, then there is a fall in collection by Rs 4,135 crore on a quarter-on-quarter basis. This is due to near non-existence of pension products in the offerings of private insurers. Post-introduction of new Ulip guidelines, private life insurers are reluctant to launch pension products that have to compulsorily offer 4.5 per cent return guarantee,” the council said.

The total payout of the industry as death benefit was Rs 7,419 crore as of December 31, 2010, an increase of 16.63 per cent Y-o-Y. Private companies paid Rs 1,544 crore as death benefit to the legal heirs of policyholders, an increase of 36.51 per cent compared to the previous year.

Life insurers’ investment in infrastructure stood at Rs 1,45,100 crore on December 31, 2010, compared to Rs 1,30,045 crore on December 31, 2009.

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