The insurance sector in India used to be dominated by the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation and its four subsidiaries. But in 1999, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Bill opened it up to private and foreign players, whose share in the insurance market has been rising. As a part of overall financial sector reforms, the Government set up the Committee for Reforms in the Insurance Sector in 1992. In its report released in early 1994, it recommended the opening up of the sector to private sector participation. This was done in 2000. Since then there has been rapid growth and share of insurance in total financial savings of the economy has improved significantly. The number of life insurance companies has increased from 13 at end March, 2003 to 18 at end March, 2008. Competition in the industry is increasing with new players trying to establish a significant presence. Currently the total insurance market in India is about US$ 30 billion, in which the element of FDI is US$ 0.5 billion. This is 1.6% of total insurance business in India. Foreign direct investment (FDIs) will increase in insurance sector by US$ 0.46 billion in next 2 years and likely to touch US$ 0.96 billion as it is still regulated. Relevance of the topic
Currently, only 26% of FDIs is permitted in insurance sector. The total insurance business would touch US$ 60 billion size. If insurance sector is opened up to an extent of 49% for FDIs, it is expected that FDI’s contribution to insurance business would touch nearly US$ 2 billion. In this paper we will examine the advantages and disadvantages of FDI in the insurance sector. Analysis
Insurance and FDI
Insurance penetration in India is lower than in many East Asian countries. But the penetration as a percentage of GDP has improved from 2.5 in 2005 to 4.0 in 2007 for life insurance in India
Advantages of FDI in insurance Sector
1.Capital for expansion: FDI has the potential to meet India’s long term capital requirements to fund the building of infrastructures which is critical for the development of the country. Infrastructure has been the major factor which has restricted the progress of the Indian economy. Insurance sector has the capability of raising long term capital from the masses as it is the only avenue where people put in money for as long as 30 years even more. An increase in FDI in insurance would indirectly be a boon for the Indian economy, the investments not withstanding but by making more people invest in long term funds to fuel the growth of the Indian economy. 2.Wider Scope for Growth: FDI in insurance would increase the penetration of insurance in India, where the penetration of insurance is abysmally low with insurance premium at about 3% of GDP against about 8% global average. This would be better through marketing effort by MNCs, better product innovation, consumer education etc. 3.Moving towards Global Practices: India’s insurance market lags behind other economies in the baseline measure of insurance penetration. At only 3.1%, India is well behind the 12.5% for the UK, 10.5% for Japan, 10.3% for Korea and 9.2% for the US. Currently, FDI represents only Rs.827 core of the Rs.3179 crore capitalizations of private life insurance companies. 4.Provide customers with competitive products, more options and better service levels: Opening the FDI in the insurance sector would be good for the consumers, in a lot of ways. Increasing FDI limit would impact a lot of industries in a positive way and that we could even do without the FDI in many other sectors for some for example in real estate.
Issues in FDI in insurance sector:
1.Efficiency of the companies with FDI: The opening up of this sector for private participation in 1999, allowed the private companies to have foreign equity up to 26 per cent. Following this up 12 private sector companies have entered the life insurance business....