More the merrier

Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance deputy MD Antony Jacob believes competition is a tool that provides the vast Indian market innovative products at competitive prices

Chennai: A soft-spoken Antony Jacob, deputy managing director, Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance Company, appears content. His company's first quarter premium income (Rs 70 crore) has shown a growth of 61.26 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year.

But Jacob cannot rest on his laurels; he has a tough task ahead. He has to improve the company's current industry ranking of 9/13 since this is a fiercely competitive market. Among the private players, the top-ranking ICICI Lombard General Insurance is tapping the profitable fire insurance business even in the southern region. And the last entrant, Cholamandalam MS General Insurance, is also growing by leaps and bounds.

During the first quarter ICICI Lombard earned a premium income of Rs 126 crore, while Cholamandalam, which commenced operations only in October 2002, clocked an impressive Rs 24 crore.

"Royal Sundaram views competition as a tool to provide the vast Indian market with innovative products at competitive prices," says Jacob. Last fiscal, the company earned a premium of Rs 184 crore. Do the group companies (the company is part of the TVS group) insure their assets with Royal Sundaram?

Answer: "The 30 member companies of the TVS group contribute to approximately 10 per cent of the total commercial insurance business. For personal insurance, Sundaram Finance, Lakshmi General Finance and other TVS group companies contribute around 25 per cent to the total business. Fire, motor, engineering, marine and health segments were the main contributors to the total premium, though I cannot reveal the portfolio-wise premium income and management expense ratio on the grounds of confidentiality."