History of Insurance in India

LIC AAO exam is scheduled on 11/12th of May 2013. When we reviewed the previous year papers, we found that almost ten questions in General Awareness section was from Insurance knowledge, most of which was related to history of insurance in India.  We thought it would be appropriate for us to write a blog on the same. So, here we go with the History of Insurance in India, hope it helps.

1818 saw the advent of life insurance business in India with the establishment of the Oriental Life Insurance Company in Calcutta. This Company however failed in 1834. In 1829, the Madras Equitable had begun transacting life insurance business in the Madras Presidency. 1870 saw the enactment of the British Insurance Act and in the last three decades of the nineteenth century, the Bombay Mutual (1871), Oriental (1874) and Empire of India (1897) were started in the Bombay Residency. This era, however, was dominated by foreign insurance offices which did good business in India, namely Albert Life Assurance, Royal Insurance, Liverpool and London Globe Insurance and the Indian offices were up for hard competition from the foreign companies.

In 1914, the Government of India started publishing returns of Insurance Companies in India. The Indian Life Assurance Companies Act, 1912 was the first statutory measure to regulate life business. In 1928, the Indian Insurance Companies Act was enacted to enable the Government to collect statistical information about both life and non-life business transacted in India by Indian and foreign insurers including provident insurance societies. In 1938, with a view to protecting the interest of the Insurance public, the earlier legislation was consolidated and amended by the Insurance Act, 1938 with comprehensive provisions for effective control over the activities of insurers.

The Insurance Amendment Act of 1950 abolished Principal Agencies. There were allegations of unfair trade practices. The Government of India, therefore, decided to nationalize insurance business.

An Ordinance was issued on 19th January, 1956 nationalizing the Life Insurance sector and Life Insurance Corporation came into existence in the same year. The LIC absorbed 154 Indian, 16 non-Indian insurers as also 75 provident societies—245 Indian and foreign insurers in all. The LIC had monopoly till the late 90s when the Insurance sector was reopened to the private sector.

General Insurance in India has its roots in the establishment of Triton Insurance Company Ltd., in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British. In 1907, the Indian Mercantile Insurance Ltd., was set up. This was the first company to transact all classes of general insurance business. 1957 saw the formation of the General Insurance Council, a wing of the Insurance Association of India. The General Insurance Council framed a code of conduct for ensuring fair conduct and sound business practices.

In 1968, the Insurance Act was amended to regulate investments and set minimum solvency margins. The Tariff Advisory Committee was also set up then.

In 1972 with the passing of the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, general insurance business was nationalized with effect from 1st January, 1973. 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four companies, namely National Insurance Company Ltd., the New India Assurance Company Ltd., the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd and the United India Insurance Company Ltd. The General Insurance Corporation of India was incorporated as a company in 1971 and it commence business on January 1sst 1973.

In 1993, the Government set up a committee under the chairmanship of RN Malhotra, former Governor of RBI, to propose recommendations for reforms in the insurance sector. The objective was to complement the reforms initiated in the financial sector. The committee submitted its report in 1994 wherein, among other things, it recommended that the private sector be permitted to enter the insurance industry. They stated that foreign companies be allowed to enter by floating Indian companies, preferably a joint venture with Indian partners.

Following the recommendations of the Malhotra Committee report, in 1999, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) was constituted as an autonomous body to regulate and develop the insurance industry. The IRDA was incorporated as a statutory body in April, 2000. Please refer to our blog for the functions of IRDA.

The IRDA opened up the market in August 2000 with the invitation for application for registrations. Foreign companies were allowed ownership of up to 26%.

In December, 2000, the subsidiaries of the General Insurance Corporation of India were restructured as independent companies and at the same time GIC was converted into a national re-insurer. Parliament passed a bill de-linking the four subsidiaries from GIC in July, 2002.

Today there are 24 general insurance companies including the ECGC and Agriculture Insurance Corporation of India and 23 life insurance companies operating in the country.

The insurance sector is extremely large and is growing at a speedy rate of 15-20%. Together with banking services, insurance services add about 7% to the country’s GDP.

Some of the important milestones in the life insurance business in India are:

1818: Oriental Life Insurance Company, the first life insurance company on Indian soil started functioning.

1870: Bombay Mutual Life Assurance Society, the first Indian life insurance company started its business.

1912: The Indian Life Assurance Companies Act enacted as the first statute to regulate the life insurance business.

1928: The Indian Insurance Companies Act enacted to enable the government to collect statistical information about both life and non-life insurance businesses.

1938: Earlier legislation consolidated and amended to by the Insurance Act with the objective of protecting the interests of the insuring public.

1956: 245 Indian and foreign insurers and provident societies are taken over by the central government and nationalized. LIC formed by an Act of Parliament, viz. LIC Act, 1956, with a capital contribution of Rs. 5 crore from the Government of India.

The General insurance business in India, on the other hand, can trace its roots to the Triton Insurance Company Ltd., the first general insurance company established in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British.

Some of the important milestones in the general insurance business in India are:

1907: The Indian Mercantile Insurance Ltd. set up, the first company to transact all classes of general insurance business.

1957: General Insurance Council, a wing of the Insurance Association of India, frames a code of conduct for ensuring fair conduct and sound business practices.

1968: The Insurance Act amended to regulate investments and set minimum solvency margins and the Tariff Advisory Committee set up.

1972: The General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, 1972 nationalized the general insurance business in India with effect from 1st January 1973.

107 insurers amalgamated and grouped into four companies’ viz. the National Insurance Company Ltd., the New India Assurance Company Ltd., the Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. and the United India Insurance Company Ltd. GIC incorporated as a company.

Reference – IRDA and LIC website

Regards,

Way2bank

https://www.facebook.com/way2bank

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