Eyeing the big pie

Mumbai: February and March are the two months when life insurance policy sales soar. It is the time of the year when the tax noose tightens and people would like to reduce their tax outgo. With the year 2003 going to be no different from the earlier ones, all private life insurers like ICICI Prudential Life Insurance are planning to eat a share of that pie.

“ICICI Prudential Life positions its life insurance products as complete financial solutions, and hence sees even sales than those products positioned as tax-saving tools, as the latter are purchased more at the time of filing taxes. Having said that, life insurance in India is still regarded as a tax-saving instrument, though the perception is changing. So we are also likely to see higher sales over the next three months,“ says ICICI Prudential Life managing director and chief executive officer Shikha Sharma.

Starting her career with ICICI, the erstwhile financial institution, in 1980, Sharma was involved in setting up I-Sec, a joint venture between ICICI and JP Morgan, and also ICICI's personal financial services that includes retail deposit taking, retail credit, credit cards and web trade.

The Rs 325-crore equity-based ICICI Prudential Life is a 74:26 joint venture between ICICI Banking Corporation and Prudential plc, UK, and started operations in December 2000. “In mid-November 2002, the company crossed the 2-lakh policies landmark with a premium income of Rs 280 crore. The total sum assured is in excess of Rs 5,400 crore to become the No 1 private life insurer in India,“ she says.

With the business growing and to meet the reserving and capital adequacy norms, the company is planning to bring in additional equity of Rs 50 crore in a couple of months. Excerpts from an interview:

How many policies have you sold during this fiscal? Can you give the product-wise break-up and the premium earned?
We have sold over 1 lakh policies this fiscal, and over 2 lakh policies since we began operations in December 2002. Non-traditional products such as pensions, market-linked policies and SmartKid form over 60 per cent of the product portfolio.