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General insurance posts a robust 12.5 pc growth in Q1

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Mumbai :Riding high on motor and fire premia and government-run social security schemes, the general insurance industry grew 12.5 per cent in the April-June quarter mobilising Rs 23,418 crore in premium income.

The industry, consisting of 28 players including four public sector players, mobilised Rs 23,418 crore of premia in the first three months of the current fiscal, showing a growth rate of 12.5 per cent over the last fiscal, as per the General Insurance Council data.

At 9.5 per cent growth in 2014-15, the industry had the lowest growth in recent years.

“The growth revival was backed by motor and health segments which contribute more than 70 per cent of the industry portfolio,” General Insurance Council secretary general R Chandrasekaran told PTI.

“If the same trend continues, we could see growth continuing the momentum through the rest of the year. But a lot also depends on the monsoon,” he added.

The four public sector general insurers have recorded a growth rate of 11.9 per cent in the first three months and thus have scored over their private sector peers who grew a tad lower at 11.4 per cent.

State-owned general insurers collected Rs 12,430 crore premium, while the private sector earned a premium of Rs 9,733 crore in the reporting period.

“It’s definitely a much better than the previous year and even the preceding quarter. I hope the trend will continue as the economy is picking up and rates have gone up in certain areas like fire (10 per cent) and health insurance. Auto sales have also shown good pick-up,” New India Assurance chairman and managing director G Srinivasan said.

“While there is some improvement on the front of corporate insurance, we have also seen good growth in the retail segment too,” he added.

The industry has termed the growth in the first quarter as an early sign of revival.

“It is an early sign that the industry has come back onto the revival path and I do hope that the industry will be able to rebound. We are dependent on several factors like distributors’ role and improvement in the economy for growth,” ICICI Lombard’s Sanjay Datta said.

SBI General Insurance grew by 30 per cent, which was well above the industry average of 12.5 per cent, during the period.

“At SBI General, we have grown by 30 per cent, primarily from health insurance and fire,” SBI General Insurance managing director and chief executive Bhaskar J Sarma said, adding he is hopeful that the year could clip at 40-50 per cent. Retail, which accounts for 65-70 per cent of its portfolio now, will continue to be the focus, he added.