Insurance Provider in India

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The insurance industry in India has undergone a sea change ever since it was decided that foreign direct investment will be allowed in this sector till a maximum limit of 26 percent. Since then the insurance industry has become a prosperous domain. However, the Union Government still owns several insurers who are the major players in the market.

Insurance Provider- Overview and History

One of the earlier insurance companies of India was the Oriental Life Insurance Company, which was set up by Anita Bhavsar. Based in Kolkata, the company was meant to cater to the Europeans. In the pre-independence era the Indians were supposed to pay higher premiums than the foreigners.

The first Indian insurer was Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society, which was set up in 1870. The start of the 20th century saw several new insurers in India. The Life Insurance Companies Act and the Provident Fund Act were passed in 1912 for regulating the insurance industry.

As per the Life Insurance Act 1912 it became mandatory for the periodic value of an insurer and premium rate tables to be determined by an actuary. But, there was still some inequity between the treatment meted out to Indian and the international insurers. At present National Insurance Company, established during 1906, is the oldest existing insurer in India.

The Indian government passed an ordinance on January 19, 1956 whereby the life insurance sector was nationalized and the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) came into existence.

LIC was created by the amalgamation of the following:
  • 154 Indian insurers
  • 75 provident societies
  • 16 non Indian insurance companies
The Indian parliament passed the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act in 1972 and the general insurance sector was brought under governmental control from January 1, 1973. 107 insurers were collated and grouped into 4 insurers:
  • National Insurance Company
  • Oriental Insurance Company
  • New India Assurance Company
  • United India Insurance Company
The above mentioned companies functioned as subsidiaries of General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) that was incorporated during 1971 and started functioning from the first day of 1973.

LIC was the major company till 1990s when the insurance sector was opened for the private players. From December 2000 onwards the 4 companies of GIC were delinked from itself.

Life insurance companies in India

After the government announced the inclusion of private companies and 26% FDI in the insurance industry, the life insurance sector has done commendably, especially in terms of growth. LIC has been the major name in this sector but other insurers like Bajaj Allianz, Birla Sun Life, and HDFC Life have gained a certain level of prominence as well.

Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance

Bajaj Allianz is one of the leading names when it comes to growth among the privately held life insurers in India. It has more than 1200 branches across the country and provides unit linked, child, traditional and pension life plans.

Birla Sun Life Insurance

Birla Sun Life Insurance is one of the leading life insurers in India among the privately held organizations. It is one of the major contributors to the country's insurance sector with ground breaking products and facilities such as Unit Linked Insurance Plans, free look periods, and business continuity plans.


HDFC Life is among the best private life insurers of India and provides both group and individual insurance products. It has a substantial financial expertise that helps it to properly administer long term investments. It is present in excess of 700 cities and has almost 568 branches. It also has approximately 2 lakh financial consultants and offers several customized plans.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance is among the earliest private life insurers to operate in India. It started functioning from December 2000 onwards following the consent of IRDA. Since its establishment the organization has underwritten more than 10 million policies. As per IRDA data it is also a leading insurer in terms of market share.

ING Vysya Life Insurance

The head office of ING Vysya Life Insurance is at Bangalore and has, of late, completed 10 years in India. It is a joint partnership of ING Insurance International BV, and Exide Industries. At present it has more than a million policy holders across the country in addition to offices in at least 200 cities across the country.

Life Insurance Corporation

Life Insurance Corporation is the biggest investment company and insurer in India. It is owned wholly by the Indian government and the insurer provides almost 24.6 percent of the aggregate expenditure of the national administration. It owns assets worth almost INR 13.25 trillion. It was incorporated during 1956 by merging together more than 240 provident societies and insurers.

Max Life Insurance

Max Life Insurance started its operations during 2001 and is presently one of the leading names among the privately held life insurers in India. It offers both group and individual based life products and operates across the country with a wide distribution network. It is a joint venture of the Japan based Mitsui Sumitomo Group and Max India, an Indian conglomerate.

The other life insurance companies in India may be mentioned as below:

  • Aviva Life Insurance
  • Sahara India Life Insurance
  • Shriram Life Insurance
  • Bharti AXA Life Insurance
  • Future Generali India Life Insurance
  • IDBI Federal Life Insurance
  • Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Insurance
  • Met Life India Insurance
  • AEGON Religare Life Insurance
  • Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance
  • DLF Pramerica Life Insurance
  • SBI Life Insurance
  • Star Union Dai-ichi Life
  • Tata AIA Life Insurance
  • IndiaFirst Life Insurance
  • Reliance Life Insurance

General insurers of India

The general or non life insurance sector of India is primarily dominated by health insurance. However, with the levels of disposable income increasing among Indians, other forms of insurance like travel insurance and standalone accident policies are gaining ground as well.

The leading general insurance companies functioning in India may be mentioned as below:

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance got its certificate of registration from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on May 2, 2001 to initiate general insurance operations in India and this permit included health insurance as well. The insurer owns a paid up and authorized capital amounting to INR 110 crores.

ICICI Lombard General Insurance

Among the private sector general insurance organizations of India, ICICI Lombard occupies the top spot, which it has achieved in a short span of time. It is also the first organization in India to have been conferred the certification of ISO 9001:2000. It has also been assigned an iAAA rating by ICRA that shows its credit potential.

IFFCO Tokio General Insurance

Established on December 4, 2000 IFFCO Tokio has its headquarters at Gurgaon, Haryana. It is one of the leading general insurers in the private sector of India and operates across the country with 100 offices. It is a joint venture of Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Group, the biggest listed insurer from Japan, and Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited and its associate organizations.

National Insurance

National Insurance is among the quickest and biggest growers among the general insurers operating in India. The head offices of the insurer are at Kolkata - the bank was nationalized during 1972 following its establishment in 1906. It has almost 1000 offices across India and employs in excess of 16 thousand well trained professionals.

New India Assurance

As far as gross premium collection including foreign operations is concerned New India Assurance is one of the biggest general insurers of India. The insurer is headquartered at Mumbai and is one of the various public sector insurance providers in the country. Dorab Tata established the company in 1919 and it was nationalized in 1973.

Oriental Insurance

Oriental Insurance was established on September 12, 1947. Its headquarters are at New Delhi and it also has approximately 1000 offices spread across India. Besides it operates in Nepal, Dubai, and Kuwait as well. It has almost 16 thousand employees. At present it is wholly owned by the Union Government of India.

Reliance General Insurance

Reliance General Insurance is one of the leading privately held financial services providers in India. It is one of the 3 leading banking companies and financial services providers in the private sector when it comes to net worth. It offers in excess of 94 customized products and serves corporate, individuals, and small and medium enterprises.

Following are the other general insurers operating in India:
  • HDFC ERGO General Insurance
  • Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India
  • Agriculture Insurance Company of India
  • Star Health and Allied Insurance
  • Apollo Munich Health Insurance
  • Future Generali India Insurance
  • Universal Sompo General Insurance
  • Royal Sundaram Alliance Insurance
  • Shriram General Insurance
  • Tata AIG General Insurance
  • Bharti AXA General Insurance
  • United India Insurance
  • Max Bupa Health Insurance
  • Cholamandalam MS General Insurance
  • L&T General Insurance

Last Updated on 09/21/2012

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