Life Insurance sector posts 8 % growth in total premium income

Though the regulatory environment has been somewhat uncertain for the life insurance industry, it reported a growth of 8 per cent in total premium income, to Rs286,500 crore in 2010-11 from Rs265,450 crore in 2009-10. The increase comes mainly from increase in income by new policies.

During the period, renewal premium improved marginally by 3 per cent to Rs160,700 crore while new business premium income was up 14.5 per cent at Rs125,800 crore. Insurance companies introduced various initiatives to curtail the expenses and as per data released by Life Insurance Council, the number of direct employees fell from 2.67 lakh in 2009-10 to 2.42 lakh in 2010-11.

The number of agents has also fallen by 29.78 lakh to 26.47 lakh with 553 branches closing down to trim down costs. Commission paid to agents has also come down.

Following completion of a decade of opening up, eight insurance companies have reported profit which includes ICICI Prudential , SBI Life , Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance, Max New York Life and Kotak Life Insurance.

The industry paid a total death benefit of Rs10,270 crore as against Rs8,385 crore in 2009-10 and additionally in March 2011, the number of in-force policies stood at Rs32.54 crore, arguably the highest in the world.

The highly capital-intensive industry deploys Rs31,437 crore capital. Net investment by insurance companies has fallen to Rs336,684 crore in 2010-11 from Rs61,125 crore in the previous year. The industry's equity investments stood at Rs506,895 crore while it invested Rs952,993 crore in fixed income instruments.