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Indian Insurance Business Projected to US$60 Billion by 2010

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has projected a 500% increase in the size of current Indian insurance business from US$ 10 billion to US$ 60 billion by 2010 particularly in view of contribution that the rural and semi-urban insurance will make to it.

Rural and Semi-Urban Life Insurance business is expected to touch US$ 20 billion figure in next 4 years from current level of less than US$ 5 billion now as rural and semi-urban folk will want themselves to ensure them for better future and their rising purchasing power will motivate them to move towards insurance sector.

In view of Assocham, the non-life insurance will rise to US$ 15 billion by 2010 from its negligible size now and in Urban areas, life insurance businesses are anticipated to reach US$ 15 billion and that of non-life insurance US$ 10 billion, according to Chamber Paper on Insurance Sector : Its Future Perspective.

Assocham has revealed that rural and semi-urban India shall contribute US $35 billion to the Indian insurance industry by 2010, including US $20 billion by way of life insurance and the rest US $15 billion through non-life insurance schemes. A large part of rural India is still untapped due to poor distribution, large distances and high costs relative to returns. Urban sector insurance is estimated to reach US $25 billion by 2010, life insurance US $15 billion and non-life insurance US $10 billion.

Estimating the potential of the Indian insurance market from the perspective of macro-economic variables such as the ratio of premium to GDP, Assocham Papers reveals that India’s life insurance premium, as a percentage of GDP is 1.8% against 5.2% in the US, 6.5% in the UK or 8% in South Korea.

Assocham findings further reveals that in the coming years the corporate segment, as a whole will not be a big growth area for insurance companies. This is because penetration is already good and companies receive good services. In both volumes and profitability therefore, the scope for expansion is modest. Survey suggested that insurer’s strategy should be to stimulate demand in areas that are currently not served at all. Insurance companies mostly focus on manufacturing sector, however, the services sector is taking a large and growing share of India’s GDP. This offers immense opportunities for expansion opportunities.

Being an agrarian economy again there are immense opportunities for the insurance companies to provide the liability and risks associated in this sector. The Paper found that the rural markets are still virgin territories to a great extent and offer exciting opportunities for insurance companies. To understand the prospects for insurance companies in rural India, it is very important to understand the requirements of India's villagers, their daily lives, their peculiar needs and their occupational structures. There are farmers, craftsmen, milkmen, weavers, casual labourers, construction workers and shopkeepers and so on. More often than not, they are into more than one profession.

The rural market offers tremendous growth opportunities for insurance companies and insurers should develop viable and cost-effective distribution channels; build consumer awareness and confidence. The Paper found that there are a total 124 million rural households. Nearly 20% of all farmers in rural India own a Kissan Credit cards. The 25 million credit cards used till date offer a huge data base and opportunity for insurance companies. An extensive rural agent network for sale of insurance products could be established. The agent can play a major role in creating awareness, motivating purchase and rendering insurance services.

There should be nothing to stop insurance companies from trying to pursue their own unique policies and target whatever needs that they want to target in rural India. Assocham suggests that insurance needs to be packaged in such a form that it appears as an acceptable investment to the rural people. In the near future, when we’ll see more innovations in agriculture in the form of corporatization or a more professional approach from the farmers’ side, insurance will definitely be one option that the rural Indian is going to accept.

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