Analyst Corner: ICICI Prudential is trying earnestly to resurrect itself

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Published: January 24, 2019 12:24:25 AM

A closer look into the broader life insurance sector suggests that not much has changed in terms of the interplay between the private life insurers and the public behemoth LIC of India.

ICICI Prudential, ICICI Prudential newsAnalyst Corner: ICICI Prudential is trying earnestly to resurrect itself

A closer look into the broader life insurance sector suggests that not much has changed in terms of the interplay between the private life insurers and the public behemoth LIC of India. YTD the industry new business premiums (including group yearly renewable) were up 1% while the private sector premium growth was 23% in the same period. Essentially, LIC has continued to lose market share to the privates.

While some of the closest peers of ICICI Prudential (IPRU) have exhibited strong new business premium (NBP) growth in 9MFY19, IPRU still finds itself limping at best. IPRU reported a value of new business (VNB) margin in 9MFY19 at 17% (down 50bps q-o-q, up 330bps y-o-y, although the second comparison is flattered by changes in tax rate assumption). This was attributed to the increase in expense ratio assumptions used in the computation of VNB, which again was due to weak growth in the NBP.

Absolute VNB grew at 18.6% in 9MFY19. APE for the nine-months was, however, down 4.2% while for the quarter it was down 2.1% y-o-y (ULIP products down ~9% has been particularly worrisome).

While the volatility of the capital markets because of multiple external factors like high crude prices, tariff war etc., have contributed to a slowdown in the ULIPs, IPRU’s miseries seem to have been compounded by the fact that it has a disproportionate proportion of ULIPs in its product mix and the average ticket size of its ULIP policies is `0.18 m, which targets the affluent segment of customers.

These affluent customers have either deferred their investments in ULIPs or have taken preference for some other financial savings instrument.

Recently, in November, IPRU even introduced the monthly payment option for its ULIP offering. Reported APE for the months of October-December did show an improving trend.

While it’s too early to tell how this will play out, IPRU is trying earnestly to resurrect itself and make good of the turf it has conceded to its peers. Protection business constituted 8.6% on an APE mix basis, up from 4.1% a year ago.

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