‘We are seeing growth in retail health insurance’

‘Pandemic has triggered interest and awareness among the people about the need for healthcare.’

Retail health insurance product sales have picked up after the pandemic due to increasing awareness and entry of new players, says Kishore Kumar Poludasu, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO), SBI General Insurance.

He spoke to Manojit Saha in an interview during Business Standard‘s The Banking Show.

How did the motor insurance segment perform in recent quarters? Is the growth back to pre-Covid levels?

When you see motor insurance, the automobile sector is especially growing very fast.

The growth momentum is there in both petrol vehicles as well as battery-operated ones.

This momentum will grow further, going forward, with the ongoing festival season of Dussehra and Deepavali.

When you see the full financial year, we see a substantial growth in the automobile sector, which, in turn, will lead to motor insurance growth.

SBI General Insurance is a multi-product and multi-channel distribution network.

I think that is helping us really drive across all portfolios and all business segments, including motor.

Overall, what kind of growth do you see for the current financial year as compared to the previous year?

Last financial year the industry grew by around 16 per cent.

And, with the kind of initiatives the regulator is taking by liberalising, the entry of new players and support of the Centre, we see the premium to grow around 18-24 per cent.

Previously, the growth in the health sector was primarily driven by group health policies. Do you see a pick up in retail health also?

Yes, absolutely. We saw that the pandemic triggered interest and awareness among the people about the need for healthcare.

They are taking health insurance as a risk mitigation and risk transfer mechanism.

We have seen momentum in retail health, and this is helping the occupying health business become one of the highest portfolios among general insurance.

We are seeing substantial growth in retail health, including personal accidental insurance.

What is driving this growth? Is it because of price correction, or better distribution capabilities?

It is both, awareness among the population, also the distribution reach and the entry of new players with new products.

There are multiple variants and add-ons being offered, which gives value for money to customers.

The insurance regulator has given some targets to companies. How are you on these targets, in terms of your growth numbers?

The numbers the regulator has mentioned are basically the advisory numbers.

Right now, the premiums of the insurance industry is around Rs 2.2 trillion.

It is envisaged that it will cross Rs 11 trillion by 2026-27.

The insurance penetration, which we measure in terms of premium versus GDP, is currently at 1 per cent for the general insurance sector.

It will reach 2.5 per cent by FY27. In SBI General, we are on track to meet the expectations of the regulator.

In September itself, we have seen a growth rate of around 30.5 per cent in terms of premiums.

How do you see Bima Sugam disrupting the insurance marketplace?

Bima Sugam has been contemplated by the regulator and other stakeholders to give a level-playing field and an opportunity to the customer to have a better pricing awareness.

So, this multi-fold objective is being worked out through the Bima Sugam, which is an online portal.

Here, all the insurance players will display their prices for a common product, which is a combination of life insurance and general insurance products.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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