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Aviation insurance losses in India at a 5-year high, touches Rs 2,500 crore

Mar 12, 2019

A series of air-crash incidents have led to insurers incurring a loss of Rs 2,500 crore in India's aviation sector. These incidents include both major and minor instances in the Indian air space.

Industry sources said the period 2014 to 2019 has been one of the worst five-years for the aviation insurance segment.

The size of the Indian aviation insurance market is estimated to be around Rs 5,000-6,000 crore.



What is aviation insurance?

Aviation insurance provides coverage for hull (aircraft) losses as well as liability for passenger injuries, environmental and third-party damage caused by aircraft accidents.

Depending on the type of company, there are various type of aviation insurance products available in the market. These include insurance for the crew members, passengers, spares (aircraft equipment), hull all risk cover for any damage to the aircraft.

For small aircraft flying passengers for business or leisure, there are niche aviation insurance covers available for loss of life and aircraft damage. Helipads are also eligible for insurance cover under this category.

Depending on the size of the cover, the premium range from 0.002 percent to 0.004 percent of the sum assured. There is a revision in annual premiums depending on the claims in the previous fiscal.



Rise in air accidents

In India, the past few incidents include damages to aircraft parts of Jet Airways and SpiceJet in separate incidents, apart from a Su-30 fighter jet crash and KingAir C-90 crash among others have led to losses of around Rs 2,500 crore.

The Sukhoi Su-30 crash in July 2018 had led to insurance losses of Rs 250 crore. New India Assurance, which is the country’s largest aviation insurer, was liable to pay the losses.

The Chennai floods in December 2015, when several aircraft and private jets belonging to companies were damaged, led to insurance losses of Rs 400 crore.

Due to a rise in the air-crashes and airline damages due to flights skidding from the runway, there has been a cumulative increase in risk rating for airlines.

At the time of renewal of insurance policies, this risk rating is taken into account. Higher the risk rating (directly proportional to past claims), greater is the insurance premium applicable. Re-insurers who provide risk cover to insurers against large risks like aviation also increase premiums when there are higher claims.

Source: MoneyControl.com



Insurers see ‘strong potential for revival of pet insurance market’

Mar 04, 2019

Insurance companies are looking to tap into the steadily growing pet market in India by either reviving existing cover or designing new products to suit consumers.

According to data available on the India International Pet Trade Fair (IIPTF) website, the pet population in India has grown from 70 lakh in 2006 to one crore in 2011. On average, six lakh pets are adopted every year.

The Indian pet market is estimated at more than $800 million, and is expected to register strong double-digit retail value growth in the coming years.

Higher disposable incomes, smaller families, sensitivity to animals, and social-media craze are the key contributors to the rise in pet ownership, studies point out. This, coupled with an increase in awareness about pet health, is driving people to look for pet insurance cover.

A number of public sector insurance companies, including National Insurance Company (NIC) and United India Insurance Company, have pet insurance products, and offer cover against death due to accident or disease, and third-party liability.

However, these products have not been able to make a mark due to the lack of awareness and poor inclination among agents to sell these products, as well as the absence of a proper distribution model, said a senior official at one of the public sector insurance companies. Hence, the number of policies sold and premium collected is very small.

NIC sold close to 25 dog insurance policies, and collected a total premium of around ₹4.8 lakh in 2016-17 (collecting an average of ₹19,700 per policy). The state-owned insurer sold around 31 policies in 2017-18; however, the premium figures were not readily available.

“There is a strong potential for revival of pet insurance. If marketed well, it can be a good product,” KB Vijay Srinivas, former director, United India Insurance, told BusinessLine.



Online customers

Online insurance marketplace Coverfox.com is in talks with a few insurance companies to come up with a pet insurance product aimed at online customers in the next six months.

According to Premanshu Singh, CEO, Coverfox.com, the plan is to customise some existing products offered by a public sector insurer to suit the needs of online customers.

“Currently, insurance companies cover death due to accident or disease. But owners are emotionally attached to their pets and look for health insurance plan. Once the supply is created, then the demand will automatically follow,” said Singh.

The medical cost involved in maintaining a pet is quite high, and is almost similar to what is spent on human healthcare. Hence, there is a need for pet insurance. However, just having a product may not solve the problem. It would call for proper distribution, said Sanjay Datta, Chief – Underwriting and Claims at ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

“You need pet insurance, but there has to be a good number of people who will pay the premium for the same, otherwise it is unsustainable. I do think it will evolve,” he said.

Source: The Hindu Business Line



Merger of 3 state-run insurers to be completed in FY2019

Feb 28, 2019

The proposed merger of three state-run insurance companies is expected to take place during the financial year starting 1 April 2019 (FY2019), according to a report in The Economic Times. The government is moving carefully on the issue.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech in February last year had said that the three public sector general insurance companies — National Insurance, United India Assurance and Oriental India Insurance — will be merged into a single entity and listed subsequently.

According to the FY2019 interim Budget document that was released last Friday, the merger is in process and will see completion in the next financial year as various steps are being taken. The next financial year starts on 1 April 2019. The enlarged entity, after the merger is effected, is touted to be India's biggest general insurer.

Mr Atanu Chakraborty, secretary at the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) told The Times of India, “Mergers take time, and you should take time in mergers anywhere. I am telling you with experience mergers have natural obstacles in terms of culture and manpower if nothing else. So, once you align the business then you should start aligning the culture and manpower and you have to go to the last man to be able to do so.”

The DIPAM had asked the Department of Financial Services to examine the issue of the merger and prepare a fresh road. There is a view within the government that the issue needs to be thoroughly examined.

With the proposed merger hovering over the three insurers, vacancies at these state owned general insurers are piling up. According to rough estimates, in the officers' ranks alone, 600-900 posts have remained vacant over the last one year. At the clerical and subordinate levels, the staff shortage is around 12,000, sources in the companies told Business Standard.

While the government has not imposed any official freeze on recruitment at the three insurers, there has been no fresh hiring since February 2018, as the Finance Ministry had advised the companies to suspend new staffing until the completion of the merger, according to a top official of a public sector general insurance firm.

Source: Asia Insurance Review



HAL had not taken public liability insurance for Aero India

Feb 28, 2019

At a time when some of the biggest temple festivals and cricket matches in Karnataka are insured, it has come to light that organisers of Aero India hadn't taken public liability insurance. Involving 300 cars, last Saturday's massive fire accident caused colossal property loss. It also had the potential of spiralling out of control and causing injury to life.

Government officials said the responsibility of Aero India 2019 lay with nodal agency Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). All four public-sector general insurers New India Assurance, National Insurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance have confirmed that HAL didn't take public liability insurance, which would cover any potential loss of life or property to the public due to the air show.

An HAL representative said individual aircraft participating in the show were insured. When it comes to the premises, the representative said it's the responsibility of the contractors. Insurance officials, however, said defence aircraft carriers are usually not insured. Also, HAL purchases insurance for defence aircraft it manufactures only till the point of delivery. An email seeking HAL's response didn't elicit response.

TOI had earlier reported that the company hadn't taken a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the fire department. The report quoted Sunil Agarwal, additional director general of police (fire and emergency services), who said fire brigade officials had found the venue lacked fire safety measures and had brought it to HAL's notice in writing on February 19, a day prior to the show's launch.

Today, public liability insurance has become quite common. We have insured a range of events from film festivals to temple gatherings. There is enough awareness in today's market on the need to purchase insurance, said Sasikumar Adidamu, chief technical officer, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co.



Temple festivals, IPL insured

Today, the Tirupati Devasthanam, Sabarimala temple authorities, Kumbh Mela organisers, Goa International Film Festival organisers or those conducting IPL matches purchase insurance with a coverage between Rs 500 crore and Rs 2,000 crore. There are three types of covers in case of a large public gathering. One is public liability insurance, which came into force after the Union Carbide incident. Another is the comprehensive general liability (CGL) policy undertaken by corporates, particularly oil and gas majors, who transport inflammable substances, said Sanjay Datta, chief, underwriting and claims, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. The third is event-based insurance.

While bigger temples such as Palani Murugan Temple, Tirupati and Sabarimala avail year-round coverage, smaller ones prefer event-based insurance. In 2016, claims were paid by United India when devotees were injured during the firewalking ritual at Kundam festival of Bannari Amman Temple. Each devotee was insured for Rs 1 lakh and the claims paid varied from Rs 15,000 to Rs 40,000.

Industry observers peg today's IPL insurance coverage at Rs 2,300 crore. It is shocking that HAL could be so negligent about the general public's safety, said an official from a public sector insurer.

Source: The Times of India



A standard product for different insurance categories is need of the hour

Feb 23, 2019

The moment you log on to an insurance company’s website, you somehow get lost in a maze of products and their technical features.

In a bid to simplify the process, the insurance regulator has proposed a mandatory standard health product that will have same features across insurers. The real need in the industry is to replicate this model across insurance products.

Insurance is still sold and not bought. Considering that insurance penetration is merely 3.69 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) as per the Swiss Re sigma report, it is imperative that a push is given to insurance sales. A general perception is that the legalese in the policy documents are a deterrent.

In a standard health insurance product, for example, a simple list of inclusions and exclusions have been put in so that a policyholder is able to understand the features before buying the product. A common ruse with health insurance products is that the actual exclusions only come to light when a claim is filed.

Getting a similar product for segments like term insurance, home insurance and motor insurance would be a good start. While it is essential for customers to get a choice when they buy a product, those looking for only a basic cover can opt for a standard policy.

Take term insurance for instance. A standard term product could be for Rs 20 lakh with a basic premise of sum assured only payable in the event of death of a policyholder during the policy term. This will not only simplify the process but will also enable even those who do not understand financial products to be able to buy the product.

Though, this means that a customer cannot differentiate between insurers on the basis of products, but they can differentiate based on the claims settlement and servicing aspect. Considering that the features of a standard policy will be similar, it is likely that the pricing of such a product would be similar.

For customers who want multiple options and add-ons while buying insurance, adequate choices are already available in the sector. Both the regulator and insurers need to turn their attention who do not want any options.

Source: MoneyContorl.com



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