Economic Slowdown To Hit Insurers’ Premium Collections: Moody’s
Indian two thousand and five hundred rupee banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Economic Slowdown To Hit Insurers’ Premium Collections: Moody’s


Despite low penetration, the ongoing economic slowdown will impact insurance premium collections over the next two to three years, global ratings agency Moody's Investors Service said on Tuesday.

The total insurance premium collected slowed down marginally for the year-ended March 2019, while the dip in growth was much sharper for general insurance, it said in a report.

The report comes at a time when India's growth is estimated to have slowed down to a decadal low of 5 percent in 2019-20 as per official estimates.

The International Monetary Fund has pegged the number at 4.8 percent and expects it to pull down global growth as well.

"We expect India's more moderate economic expansion to result in slower (re)insurance premium growth over the next 2-3 years," the rating agency said in its report.

Total insurance premium grew 11.3 percent in 2018-19 as against 11.5 percent in the year-ago period due to a slowdown in economic growth, while the same for general insurance, which amounts for a fourth of the overall industry, was sharper at 12.5 percent from 17.6 percent a year before, it said.

The agency, however, said that low penetration points to further growth penetration in the Indian market from a long term perspective.

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As the middle class expands, there will be greater scope for insurance companies, it said, pointing out that the penetration stood at 3.7 percent in 2018, which is low as compared to developed markets such as U.K. at 10.6 percent and the U.S. at 7.1 percent.

Health premiums, in particular, are likely to continue to increase as a result of the launch of Ayushman Bharat or National Health Protection Mission in September 2018, which aims to give a cover of Rs 5 lakh for 100 million families, it said.

Moody's, however, said that the approach adopted by a majority 23 states is "less favourable" to insurers than the alternative insurance model, where government funds are paid to insurers in the form of premiums.

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Insurers may nonetheless be involved in trust funds as India's states have the option of a hybrid model in which insurance protection is purchased for claims in excess of given limits, it added.

The agency also noted that the changes in foreign ownership caps are credit positive for the sector and added that new reinsurance ordinances will benefit non-life insurers.

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