State-owned general insurers led by New India Assurance have outpaced their peers in private sector in premium collection, though marginally, by recording 12 per cent growth in the first nine months of the current fiscal.
All the four state-owned non-life insurers – New India Assurance, Oriental, United and National – mobilised a total premium of Rs 35,000 crore in nine months to December against Rs 31,300 crore during the first nine months of previous fiscal, data collated by industry body General Insurance Council showed.
In contrast, 24 private sector general insurers, led by ICICI Lombard, recorded a growth of 11.70 per cent in premium collection at Rs 28,650 crore in the reporting period against Rs 25,631 crore in the year-ago period.
“The marketshare of PSU general insurers has gone up in the first nine months and in case of New India, it has gone up significantly. The growth has come not only from sectors like motor and health, but also from miscellaneous sectors,” New India chairman and managing director G Srinivasan told PTI.
“It will help us regain our marketshare in some of those segments where we have lost it to our peers in the private sector,” he said.
However, private sector non-life insurers blame it on varying strategy for growth or degrowth in premium collection adopted by them for lagging behind their state-run peers in the reporting period.
“Public sector companies, which are obviously large players in the market, are driven by a similar strategy for growth, whereas for private sector, each one is having varying compulsion for growing or degrowing,” ICICI Lombard chief, claims and underwriting, Sanjay Datta said.
“Sometimes, topline growth becomes more important for us in an under-penetrated market as India is. Still we can’t lose bottomline growth at the same time,” he added.
A section in private sector general insurers doesn’t see much difference, when it comes to their performance in the reporting period in comparison with PSU general insurers.
“I don’t think if there is a much difference between the growth of the public sector versus private sector in the first nine months of the current fiscal as both have grown neck-and-neck during the period. In fact the growth was driven by huge sales of cars in December,” Bajaj Allianz General Insurance managing director and chief executive Tapan Singhel said.
Five standalone health insurers collected Rs 2,650 crore registering a growth of 44.5 per cent in the reporting period, the highest in the industry so far.
In overall, general insurance industry has logged a growth of 13.4 per cent by collecting a total premium of Rs 69,883.45 crore indicating a great deal of recovery in the industry.
In 2014-15, the industry at 9 per cent had ended the year with single digit growth. Even the penetration in the general insurance had fallen from 0.80 per cent to 0.70 per cent during the year.
Insurers said that they have not taken any major hit at their balance sheet due to recent Chennai floods for a simple reason that they had taken sufficient reinsurance cover.
“New India is not affected much by the recent Chennai floods as we have taken a hit of merely Rs 50 crore on our balancesheet due to the reinsurance cover we have,” Srinivasan said.
“At Bajaj Allianz, we have grown in bother terms, topline and bottomline as well during the reporting period. We took a hit of Rs 90 crore on our balancesheet due to Chennai floods,” Singhel said.