LIC leads growth in new business as private life insurers struggle

Led by the state-owned Life Insurance Corp, India's life insurance industry registered a 13 per cent rise in first-premium income during the April-September period this year over the same period last year.

According to data released by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority on Friday, first premium income of life insurance companies for the period stood at Rs39,046 crore against Rs34,599 crore in the previous year. The industry sold two crore policies in the first half of the current fiscal, a rise of 7 per cent over 1.8 crore in the previous corresponding period.

Although the industry as a whole has registered growth in terms of cumulative first-premium income, the private sector has been seeing a decline. LIC is one of the few maintaining a positive growth.

The private players, 21 in all, registered a 14.67 per cent fall in first premium income of Rs13,232 crore during the first half of 2009-10 against Rs15,508 crore in the corresponding period last year.

In terms of the number of policies sold, the private companies saw a 4 per cent decline to 60.66 lakh, against 63.33 lakh in the previous period. Only a few companies including Tata AIG, Sahara Life and IDBI Fortis managed to clock positive growth in first-premium income during this period, while the majority of the private companies saw their first-premium income decline.

LIC, however, did well. It achieved a 35 per cent growth in first-premium income for the period at Rs25,814 crore against 19,091 crore in the previous period. Interestingly, it regained about 10 per cent of the market share it had lost during the previous period.

The insurance behemoth now commands 66 per cent of the market.