THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IN INDIA
With the largest number of life insurance policies in force in the world, Insurance happens to be a mega opportunity in India. It’s a business growing at the rate of 15-20 per cent annually and presently is of the order of Rs 1560.41 billion (for the financial year 2006 – 2007). Together with banking services, it adds about 7% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The gross premium collection is nearly 2% of GDP and funds available with LIC for investments are 8% of the GDP. Even so nearly 65% of the Indian population is without life insurance cover while health insurance and non-life insurance continues to be below international standards. A large part of our population is also subject to weak social security and pension systems with hardly any old age income security A well-developed and evolved insurance sector is needed for economic development as it provides long term funds for infrastructure development and strengthens the risk taking ability of individuals. It is estimated that over the next ten years India would require investments of the order of one trillion US dollars. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
The history of life insurance in India dates back to 1818 when it was conceived as a means to provide for English Widows. Interestingly in those days a higher premium was charged for Indian lives than the non - Indian lives, as Indian lives were considered more risky to cover. The Bombay Mutual Life Insurance Society started its business in 1870. It was the first company to charge the same premium for both Indian and non-Indian lives. The Oriental Assurance Company was established in 1880. The General insurance business in India, on the other hand, can trace its roots to Triton Insurance Company Limited, the first general insurance company established in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British. Till the end of the nineteenth century insurance business was almost entirely in the hands of overseas companies. Insurance regulation formally began in India with the passing of the Life Insurance Companies Act of 1912 and the Provident Fund Act of 1912. Several frauds during the 1920's and 1930's sullied insurance business in India. By 1938 there were 176 insurance companies. The first comprehensive legislation was introduced with the Insurance Act of 1938 that provided strict State Control over the insurance business. The insurance business grew at a faster pace after independence. Indian companies strengthened their hold on this business but despite the growth that was witnessed, insurance remained an urban phenomenon. The Government of India in 1956, brought together over 240 private life insurers and provident societies under one nationalized monopoly corporation and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) was born. Nationalization was justified on the grounds that it would create the much needed funds for rapid industrialization. This was in conformity with the Government's chosen path of State led planning and development. The non-life insurance business continued to thrive with the private sector till 1972. Their operations were restricted to organized trade and industry in large cities. The general insurance industry was nationalized in 1972. With this, nearly 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four companies- National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company. These were subsidiaries of the General Insurance Company (GIC). KEY FEATURES OF LIFE INSURANCE-
1) Nomination: -
When one makes a nomination, as the policyholder you continue to be the owner of the policy and the nominee does not have any right under the policy so long as you are alive. The nominee has only the right to receive the policy monies in case of your death within the term of the policy. 2) Assignment: -
If your intention is that your policy monies should go only to a...