Private insurance players reported soft premium growth in June— individual annual premium equivalent (APE) rose 4% y-o-y with private players growing mere 9% y-o-y (partially due to base effect) and LIC registering a 1% y-o-y dip. This softness was broadly driven by ICICI Prudential Life (down >5% y-o-y, on a high base) and SBI Life (up mere 8% y-o-y); excluding this, private players posted growth of 15% y-o-y (but still below trend). All in all, Q1FY19 growth momentum turned out to be softer at <6% y-o-y with private players posting subdued growth of <5% y-o-y and LIC 7% y-o-y. While the overall growth momentum seems to be moderating (partially due to base effect), we maintain that predisposition towards financial savings will persist and the industry will regain momentum.
Growth momentum softening…
Overall growth (individual APE) softened further to 4% y-o-y in June from the 20–23% run rate in FY18. While private players posted growth of just 9% y-o-y
(partially due to a higher base—28% in June 2017), LIC de-grew >1% y-o-y (15% in FY18). The divergence in performance is inescapable—excluding ICICI Pru Life and SBI Life, private players grew 15% y-o-y. Growth in Q1FY19 has been soft. That said, we expect the growth momentum to improve as the base effect wanes.
ICICI Pru Life in soft patch; volatility in SBI Life persists
ICICI Prudential Life: Individual APE growth further decelerated to >5% y-o-y (largely due to higher base). We had predicted moderation in Q1FY19 due to the base effect and management’s focus on containing business volatility. Meanwhile, the company’s strong distribution franchise should cushion this impact. We expect the trend to normalise henceforth.
SBI Life: Volatility persisted as evident from growth momentum softening again to 8% (from 27% in May and sub-20% aggregate growth in the prior four months). Q1FY19 growth came in lower than 9% (versus >30% in FY18).
Max Life: Impressively, growth in June sustained at 19.7% y-o-y (Q1FY19: 15%). Max Life has pulled out of the IDBI Federal Life Insurance buyout; in this backdrop, sustained growth momentum via bancassurance partner Axis Bank and other channels is critical.
HDFC Life: After a surge in April (+70% y-o-y), growth softened further for second consecutive month (from 11% y-o-y in May to >4% in June), ending Q1FY19 ~18%.
Bajaj Life and Aditya Birla Sunlife: Bajaj Life reported individual APE growth of 19%. Birla Sunlife’s growth momentum improved (up >40% y-o-y).