Changing Paradigms of Finance Sector-Special Reference to Insurance Sector


Sanjay Kumar Sadana
B.Com (Hons), M.Com, PGDBA, LL.B (Professional), MBA Finance
PGDPM&IR, M.A. (PM & IR), M.A. (MC& JR), M.Phil (Finance), PhD (Pursuing)

AMT (Accredited Management Teacher)

Guru Gram Business School
Gurgaon & Faridabad Campus


Insurance is a federal subject in India and has a history dating back to 1818. Life and general insurance in India is still a nascent sector with huge potential for various global players with the life insurance premiums accounting to 2.5% of the country's GDP while general insurance premiums to 0.65% of India's GDP.. The Insurance sector in India has gone through a number of phases and changes, particularly in the recent years when the Govt. of India in 1999 opened up the insurance sector by allowing private companies to solicit insurance and also allowing FDI up to 26%. Ever since, the Indian insurance sector is considered as a booming market with every other global insurance company wanting to have a lion's share. Currently, the largest life insurance company in India is still owned by the government.


Insurance in India has its history dating back till 1818, when Oriental Life Insurance Company was started by Europeans in Kolkata to cater to the needs of European community. Pre-independent era in India saw discrimination among the life of foreigners and Indians with higher premiums being charged for the latter. It was only in the year 1870, Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society, the first Indian insurance company covered Indian lives at normal rates.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, insurance companies started mushrooming up. In the year 1912, the Life Insurance Companies Act, and the Provident Fund Act were passed to regulate the insurance business. The Life Insurance Companies Act, 1912 made it necessary that the premium rate tables and periodical valuations of companies should be certified by an actuary. However, the disparage still existed as discrimination between Indian and foreign companies. The oldest existing insurance company in India is National Insurance Company Ltd, which was founded in 1906 and is doing business even today. Insurance industry earlier comprised of only two state insurers. Life Insurers i.e. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and General Insurers i.e. General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC). GIC had four subsidiary companies.

With effect from December 2000, these subsidiaries have been de-linked from parent company and made as independent insurance companies: Oriental Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, National Insurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company Limited.

Insurance Industry –MAJORS

a) Public Sector

1) Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) was established on 1 September 1956 to spread the message of life insurance in the country and mobilise people's savings for nation-building activities. LIC with its central office in Mumbai and seven zonal offices at Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kanpur and Bhopal, operates through 100 divisional offices in important cities and 2,048 branch offices. LIC has 5.59 lakh active agents spread over the country.

The Corporation also transacts business abroad and has offices in Fiji, Mauritius and United Kingdom. LIC is associated with joint ventures abroad in the field of insurance, namely, Ken-India Assurance Company Limited, Nairobi; United Oriental Assurance Company Limited, Kuala Lumpur; and Life Insurance Corporation (International), E.C. Bahrain. It has also entered into an agreement with the Sun Life (UK) for marketing unit linked life insurance and pension policies in U.K.

In 1995-96, LIC had a total income from premium and investments of $ 5 Billion while GIC recorded a net premium of $ 1.3 Billion. During the last 15 years, LIC's income grew at a healthy average of 10 per cent as against the industry's 6.7 per cent growth in the rest of Asia (3.4 per cent in Europe, 1.4 per cent in the US).

LIC has even provided insurance cover to five million people living below the poverty line, with 50 per cent subsidy in the premium rates. LIC's claims settlement ratio at 95 per cent and GIC's at 74 per cent are higher than that of global average of 40 per cent.

Compounded annual growth rate for Life insurance business has been 19.22 per cent per annum.

2) General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC)

The general insurance industry in India was nationalized and a government company known as General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) was formed by the Central Government in November 1972. With effect from 1 January 1973 the erstwhile 107 Indian and foreign insurers which were operating in the country prior to nationalization, were grouped into four operating companies, namely, (i) National Insurance Company Limited; (ii) New India Assurance Company Limited; (iii) Oriental Insurance Company Limited; and (iv) United India Insurance Company Limited.  (However, with effect from Dec'2000, these subsidiaries have been de-linked from the parent company and made as independent insurance companies). All the above four subsidiaries of GIC operate all over the country competing with one another and underwriting various classes of general insurance business except for aviation insurance of national airlines and crop insurance which is handled by the GIC.

Besides the domestic market, the industry is presently operating in 17 countries directly through branches or agencies and in 14 countries through subsidiary and associate companies.


The introduction of private players in the industry has added to the colors in the dull industry. The initiatives taken by the private players are very competitive and have given immense competition to the on time monopoly of the market LIC. Since the advent of the private players in the market the industry has seen new and innovative steps taken by the players in this sector. The new players have improved the service quality of the insurance. As a result LIC down the years have seen the declining phase in its career. The market share was distributed among the private players. Though LIC still holds the 75% of the insurance sector but the upcoming natures of these private players are enough to give more competition to LIC in the near future. LIC market share has decreased from 95% (2002-03) to 82 %( 2004-05).


1. HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Ltd.

HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Ltd. is one of India's leading private life insurance companies, which offers a range of individual and group insurance solutions. It is a joint venture between Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC Ltd.), India's leading housing finance institution and The Standard Life Assurance Company, a leading provider of financial services from the United Kingdom. Their cumulative premium income, including the first year premiums and renewal premiums is Rs. 672.3 for the financial year, Apr-Nov 2005. They have managed to cover over 11,00,000 individuals out of which over 3,40,000 lives have been covered through our group business tie-ups.

2. Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

Max New York Life Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture that brings together two large forces - Max India Limited, a multi-business corporate, together with New York Life International, a global expert in life insurance. With their various Products and Riders, there are more than 400 product combinations to choose from. They have a national presence with a network of 57 offices in 37 cities across India.

3. ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Ltd.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company is a joint venture between ICICI Bank, a premier financial powerhouse and Prudential plc, a leading international financial services group headquartered in the United Kingdom. ICICI Prudential was amongst the first private sector insurance companies to begin operations in December 2000 after receiving approval from Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA). The company has a network of about 56,000 advisors; as well as 7 bancassurance and 150 corporate agent tie-ups.

4. Om Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Ltd. is a joint venture between Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd. (KMBL), and Old Mutual plc.

5.Birla Sun Life Insurance Company Ltd.

Birla Sun Life Insurance Company is a joint venture between Aditya Birla Group and Sun Life financial Services of Canada.

6) Tata AIG Life Insurance Company Ltd.

7) SBI Life Insurance Company Limited

8) ING Vysya Life Insurance Company Private Limited

9) Allianz Bajaj Life Insurance Company Ltd.

10) MetLife India Insurance Company Pvt. Ltd.

11) AMP SANMAR Assurance Company Ltd.

12) Dabur CGU Life Insurance Company Pvt. Ltd.

13) Aegon Religare Life Insurance

14) Aviva Life Insurance


1. Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company Limited 

The joint venture bringing together Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance and Sundaram Finance Limited started its operations from March 2001. The company is Head Quartered at Chennai, and has two Regional Offices, one at Mumbai and another one at New Delhi.

2. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture between Bajaj Auto Limited and Allianz AG of Germany. Both enjoy a reputation of expertise, stability and strength.

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance received the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) certificate of Registration (R3) on May 2nd, 2001 to conduct General Insurance business (including Health Insurance business) in India. The Company has an authorized and paid up capital of Rs 110 crores. Bajaj Auto holds 74% and the remaining 26% is held by Allianz, AG, Germany.

3. ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited

ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture between ICICI Bank Limited and the US-based $ 26 billion Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited. ICICI Bank is India's second largest bank, while Fairfax Financial Holdings is a diversified financial corporate engaged in general insurance, reinsurance, insurance claims management and investment management.

Lombard Canada Ltd, a group company of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, is one of Canada's oldest property and casualty insurers. ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company received regulatory approvals to commence general insurance business in August 2001.

4. Cholamandalam General Insurance Company Ltd.

Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Limited (Chola-MS) is a joint venture of the Murugappa Group & Mitsui Sumitomo. 

Chola-MS commenced operations in October 2002 and has issued more than 1.4 lakh policies in its first calendar year of operations. The company has a pan-Indian presence with offices in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kochi, Coimbatore, Mumbai, Pune, Indore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Vizag.

5. TATA AIG General Insurance Company Ltd.

Tata AIG General Insurance Company Ltd. is a joint venture company, formed from the Tata Group and American International Group, Inc. (AIG). Tata AIG combines the strength and integrity of the Tata Group with AIG's international expertise and financial strength. The Tata Group holds 74 per cent stake in the two insurance ventures while AIG holds the balance 26 per cent stake.

Tata AIG General Insurance Company, which started its operations in India on January 22, 2001, offers the complete range of insurance for automobile, home, personal accident, travel, energy, marine, property and casualty, as well as several specialized financial lines.

6. Reliance General Insurance Company Limited.

7. IFFCO Tokio General Insurance Co. Ltd

8. Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd.

9. HDFC-Chubb General Insurance Co. Ltd.

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Source: E-mail December 18, 2010


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