German health insurance giant Deutsche Krankenversicherung
AG (DKV), part of the Munich Re group, is entering the
Indian health insurance market, through a joint venture
with Apollo Hospitals.
Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA),the
insurance industry regulator, now allows stand-alone health
insurance companies to operate in India. Other international
majors, including the UnitedHealth group of the US, are
keen on entering this largely untapped market.
the American company is awaiting further liberalisation
in the industry, as it wants to have a 49-per cent stake
in the new venture. Current rules restrict foreign holdings
to just 26 per cent. Finance Minister P Chidambaram in
his budget speech had said the government was keen to
raise this to 49 per cent, but the Leftist allies of the
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government are opposed
to the move.
already offers healthcare services to the corporate sector,
and has seen its business grow by 30 per cent annually.
IRDA estimates that the health insurance segment can generate
huge premiums, perhaps up to Rs1 lakh crore, if the sector
is allowed to grow. At present, non-life insurers offer
health cover to customers. The non-life (general insurance)
sector is mainly dominated by the motor insurance business.
general insurance sector grew by 20 per cent during the
first five months of the current fiscal. The dozen players
in the sector reported total premium of Rs10,427 crore
between April and August 2006, as against Rs8,668 crore
in the corresponding period in the previous fiscal.
the four state-owned general insurance firms, there are
eight private companies. The IRDA is introducing a de-tariffied
regime from January, allowing insurance companies to fix
their own premia.
New India Assurance, which dominated the business,
has seen its share fall to a little over 20 per cent.
ICICI Lombard, a leading private non-life insurer, has
grown its market share to over 12 per cent. The eight
private general insurance companies now account for 35
per cent of the market share of premiums.