Life insurers' premium growth doubles in first quarter, says Irdai

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Premium growth of life insurance players has doubled for the first quarter of this financial year (FY2019), according to data released by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai).

The growth rate in premium revenue for life insurers in the first quarter of 2018-19 touched 10.8 per cent, year on year, compared to an annual premium growth rate of 5.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18.

Analysts said private insurers reported soft growth in premiums, in terms of individual annual premium equivalent (APE) for the first quarter of 2018-19.

Private life insurance players have experienced 21.6 per cent growth in their premiums, year on year, at the end of the first quarter of 2018-19. Life Insurance Corporation posted growth in premium revenue of 6.2 per cent.

During the first quarter of 2017-18, private players’ premium revenue grew by 12.2 per cent and LIC posted a 3 per cent growth rate in premium revenues. Premium revenue collection for private and public life insurers have doubled since last year.

Edelweiss Tokio and India First Life were the fastest-growing insurers in the first quarter of 2018-19 in terms of premium revenue, whereas Sahara Life and IDBI Federal Life experienced significant slowdown in premium revenue collection.

“Despite the leveraging of technology for the policy issuance and servicing process, the cost structure has gradually increased in the past couple of years. This was partly on account of higher employee and administrative expenses,” said a report by rating agency ICRA.  

According to a report by Edelweiss Securities, for the month of June 2018, private players posted growth of 8.9 per cent in their APE, which was driven by a higher base in the previous year. LIC posted a slowdown of around 1 per cent in the APE.

Overall in 2017-18, premium revenue growth industry-wide grew at 12 per cent, year on year, with private players’ APE growing faster at 17 per cent, compared to LIC’s growth of 8 per cent at the end of 2017-18, according to ICRAs report.

“Overall, growth momentum in the first quarter of 2018-19 turned out to be less than 6 per cent, year on year, with private players posting a subdued growth of less than 5 per cent year on year,” said Edelweiss Securities.

Total APE collected by life insurers in the month of June 2018 grew by 4 per cent to Rs 473.3 billion against Rs 454.5 billion in June 2017.

The top performing life insurers, in terms of APE for June, are Edelweiss Tokia, Future Generali Life, DHFL Pramerica and Tata AIG. Aegon Religare, Star Union Dai-ichi, IDBI Fortis Life and ICICI Prudential experienced slowdown in their APE for June, compared to last year.

ICRA expects new business’ premium revenues for life insurers to grow to Rs 2,173 billion at the end of 2018-19, compared to Rs 1,939 billion in 2017-18.

While the overall growth momentum is moderating partially due to a base effect, analysts said predisposition towards financial savings would persist, which should help the industry regain momentum in the coming quarters.

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