Global reinsurance firms gearing up to enter India

Jan 20 2014, 09:36 IST
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Most global reinsurers are now developing their insurance business offshore. (Thinkstock) Most global reinsurers are now developing their insurance business offshore. (Thinkstock)
SummaryReinsurers are looking forward to enactment of the Insurance Bill.

Big investments are being lined up by global reinsurance giants looking to gain a foothold in India. Even as the Insurance (Laws) Amendment Bill, 2008, to allow foreign reinsurers to set up branch operations is getting delayed in Parliament, bullish global reinsurers are getting ready to enter the Indian market, with many of them slowly in the early stages of developing business through their offshore branches.

Most global reinsurers are now developing their insurance business offshore. “India is an exciting market to be present in. We are encouraged to learn about the possibility of the Insurance Bill being cleared in the Parliament with regard to the opening of branches by foreign reinsurers,” said Victor Peignet, CEO, SCOR Global P&C, the sixth largest global reinsurer.

“We hope to have a branch office in India conducting reinsurance business as soon as it is permissible to do so. Such a perspective suits the “multi-domestic” business model based upon which the SCOR Group operates,” Peignet said. SCOR is currently conducting business with its Indian clients offshore from Singapore. Currently, public sector GIC Re is the only reinsurance company in India.

More than euro 1 trillion ($1.382 trillion) in additional premiums will be generated in the Asian region by 2020 with growth markets such as China and India contributing almost 70 per cent, said a top official of Munich Re.

Ludger Arnoldussen, management board member, Munich Re, world’s largest reinsurer, said as a reliable partner of India’s non-life insurance industry for more than five decades, Munich Re sees India as an important emerging market with high potential and is ready to participate in its growth, offering professional expertise, global knowledge and unmatched financial strength.

“At the moment our reinsurance premiums from India are about euro 30 million ($41.5 million), while we have roughly euro 1 billion ($1.382 billion) in China. Regulation in India is still too spontaneous and some protectionist tendencies still exist,” Arnoldussen said.

Michel M Liès, Group CEO, Swiss Re, the second largest global reinsurer said in the long term, Swiss Re sees India is an important market. “If I analyse our Indian reinsurance portfolio, the opportunities on life side have been real and we have taken advantage of them. We would like to increase our business by participating in government schemes that we have been talking but nothing much has happened till now,” he said.

Swiss Re which is keen to set up a health insurance company is currently negotiating with L&T for a joint venture.

Hannover, the third largest global reinsurer, has a collaboration with Hannover Re for developing life reinsurance business. Ulrich Wallin, CEO, Hannover said the company already has a portfolio of around euro 60-70 million.

“India is an interesting market. We have grown our business in certain pockets. The premiums are sufficient enough to cover the losses. We will be seriously considering to set up a branch if we allowed to do so. Like China, if we are allowed to open a branch India, we will look at that possibility,” Wallin said. “It will help us doing business in a much better way. We can employ the local underwriters, and others from Indian market to do our business. It will also help developing reinsurance market in India.”

The Catlin Group, the largest Syndicate in the Lloyd’s market, has a representative office in Mumbai which was opened three years ago. “We have done Indian business in London. India is much behind China’s infrastructure and its insurance industry is behind in comparison with other emerging nations. It has to do a lot of catching up,” said Stephen Catlin, CEO, Catlin Group.

Is it easy for an non-Indian to do business in India? The answer is no. Unlike other places, insurance giants are not allowed to have any control over the business interest. That is an impediment to free trade.

GREAT OPPORTUNITY

* The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008 has a provision that will allow foreign reinsurers to set up branches in India

* With the passage of the bill delayed, reinsurers are getting ready to enter India first through their offshore branches

* For reinsurance giant Munich Re, more than euro 1 trillion in

additional premiums would be generated in Asia by 2020, with China and India contributing

almost 70%

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