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'Allow mkt-driven price for third party motor pool insurance'

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SummaryDue to a sharp decline in the auto sector growth, particularly in car and commercial vehicle, the motor pool of general insurers is likely to take a hit of 10%.

Due to a sharp decline in the auto sector growth, particularly in car and commercial vehicle, the motor pool of general insurers is likely to take a hit of 10%. Chola MS General Insurance, however, is growing in this pool, says SS Gopalarathnam, the managing director of Chola MS General Insurance. In an interview with R Ravichandran, Gopalarathnam said the third party pool must be let off with detariff and allow market driven price mechanism for the same. Excerpts:

What would be the impact of slowdown in auto segment on general insurers?

The motor-pool premium is falling. Due to a slowdown, particularly in the passenger car and CV sides, it is expected that the pool will take a hit of 10%. However, we are still growing due to a better underwriting and claim settlement exercises. Motor pool alone accounts for 62% of our premium, followed by 19% from health.

It seems you are going slow on commercial side, including fire, engineering and group health. What are the reasons?

Of course, we have decided to go slow on this segment as the market is witnessing heavy discounting due to competition. We found it is not viable to match such high discounts almost to 95% in areas such as fire, engineering, bulk premium, shipping and marine. It is worsening further after the detariff situation. However, we will focus on this area with value addition without going for much discounting with the help of our partner Mitsui of Japan. The commercial segment contributes 12% to our business.

The truckers are blaming the insurers for three-fold hike in TP (third party) insurance. Your response?

We had sought a 70% increase, but Irda notified only for 30%. Still there is a huge gap. Companies are not making money as the claim settlement cost has gone up substantially over a period of time and this in addition to the inflationary pressure. Why should someone do it at loss. Let the market driven price mechanism takes place. We hope Irda will look into it. We have allocated R50 crore towards motor pool in the current year too.

You said Chola MS will focus

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