FUTURE OF RURAL INSURANCE IN INDIA
India is fast emerging on the world map as a strong economy and a global power. The country is going through a phase of rapid development and growth. All the vital industries and sectors of the country are registering growth and thus, luring foreign investors. And insurance sector is one of them. The rural market in India, constituting 742 million people, is by far the largest potential market in the world. The annual rural household income of Rs 56,630 (as per NCAER, IMDR 2002) coupled with changing rural aspirations in consumption patterns and lifestyle unfolds tremendous opportunities for rural marketing. However, some of the issues that seem to be hindering large-scale advent in the rural markets are lack of understanding of rural customer, inadequate data on rural markets, poor infrastructure, low levels of literacy and poor reach of mass media. The penetration of insurance in India is pitifully low and if the aim for the modest target of insurance premium becoming 5% of GDP, insurance companies need to look at newer market segments rather than fight for a share in the same pie. There exists a vast potential in the rural areas where more than 70% of our population lives. But it is common perception and belief amongst the insurance companies that it is expensive to do business in rural areas. Most companies are focusing only on meeting regulatory requirements from rural areas and don’t see them as commercially viable rural business opportunities, waiting to be exploited. Interesting findings
The study brought forth revealing data. The rural folks have a strong saving habit—they save about one-third of their income annually across the three income segments studied. What was stunning was that the respondents, even those residing in backward areas, were quite conversant with insurance. The Indian rural market for insurance is not entirely an uninformed market. Almost 93% of the respondents were aware of life insurance; while...
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