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Finesse: March-June 2011

Insurance news: India

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Regulatory actions

EntityDateNews
IRDA28 JuneThe IRDA is likely to confine the portability of health insurance policies to non-life insurance companies. The reason cited for this is that the term of the policies offered by general insurance companies is one year, in contrast to the ones offered by life insurance companies, which range from 3 to 15 years.i
IRDA23 JuneIn its draft guideline for approaching capital markets, the IRDA has stipulated that only life insurers that are at least 10 years old can access capital markets. In addition, the embedded value of a life insurance company needs to be at least twice its paid-up equity capital and insurers will have to maintain the prescribed regulatory solvency margin in the preceding six quarters to access the capital markets.ii
IRDA22 JuneThe IRDA launched a website, igms.irda.gov.in, the Integrated Grievance Management System (IGMS) in June 2011, whereby a policyholder can register a complaint and check its status afterwards. However, the website can only be used as an escalation tool if customers are not satisfied with their insurer's response or solution, or if their complaint has not been attended to within the stipulated period of 15 days of lodging the complaint.iii
IRDA10 JuneThe IRDA has issued merger norms for private general insurers, whereby it has stipulated that the solvency margins of a merged entity should not be less than that recommended by the stipulated solvency norms, and that it may conduct an actuarial valuation of the merged entity (including its assets, liabilities and solvency position).iv
IRDA30 MayThe IRDA has asked non-life insurance companies to calculate their economic capital for the financial year ended March 2011 in their balance sheets and submit these to the authority by September 2011.v 
IRDA24 AprilAccording to IRDA sources, the pension schemes of insurance companies will continue to be regulated by the insurance regulator. In addition, according to these sources, the IRDA has also indicated that it is in the process of automating the entire process of claims settlement for better monitoring of the claims handled by insurers to avoid any delays in the system.vi 
IRDA20 AprilThe IRDA has relaxed its accounting norms for insurance companies by allowing them to amortize additional liability on account of gratuity over a period of five years, starting from financial year 2010–11. This is to minimize the impact of an increased gratuity limit, which was raised from INR350,000 to INR1 million by the government last year, on insurers’ profitability.vii 

IRDA

15 AprilThe IRDA has issued new guidelines on distance marketing of insurance products.This includes provisions such as mandatory employment of only trained telemarketers as well as recording and preservation of all calls. Industry players are likely to incur higher costs to implement the new norms and there is a possibility of their being passed on to customers in other business lines, e.g., health insurance.viii 
IRDA14 AprilThe IRDA has begun monitoring claim settlements of life and non-life insurance companies to identify unwarranted delays in payouts. In the event of violation, insurance companies will have to pay heavy penalties.ix 
IRDA15 MarchThe IRDA has directed all general insurance companies to increase their motor third party insurance pool reserves in a phased manner. This initiative aims to hel[p them achieve a solvency ratio of 150% by March 2014.x 
IRDA12 MarchThe IRDA is considering a proposal to allow life insurance companies to invest in gold and exchange-traded funds. This is expected to provide greater flexibility to local insurers to invest in various asset classes.xi 
IRDA11 MarchThe IRDA is seeking higher disclosure for life insurance companies, being concerned over rampant mis-selling of guaranteed products, especially net asset value (NAV) ones.xii 

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i Niladri Bhattacharya, “Health policies by life insurance companies will not be portable,” Business Standard, 28 June 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 Business Standard Ltd.

ii “IPO-bound insurers profit value must be twice the paid-up cap,” The Economic Times, 23 June 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Times of India Group

iii “You can now file online complaints related to your insurance policy with the regulator,” Mint, 22 June 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011HT Media Limited

iv “Irda issues merger norms for private general insurers,” The Economic Times, 10 June 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Times of India Group

v “Irda asks non-life insurers to submit balance sheet on economic capital by September,” The Economic Times, 30 May 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Times of India Group.

vi “IRDA will continue to regulate pension schemes of insurance cos,” Business Line (The Hindu), 24 April 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Hindu Business Line.

vii“Accounting norms for insurers relaxed,” Financial Express (India), 20 April 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 Indian Express Pty. Ltd.

viii G. Naga Sridhar, “New norms on distance marketing will increase insurers' costs,” Business Line (The Hindu), 15 April 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Hindu Business Line.

ix “Irda cracks down on insurers for non-payment of claims,” Mint, 14 April 2011, via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 HT Media Limited.

x “IRDA asks general insurers to increase motor third party pool reserves,” Business Line (The Hindu), 15 March 2011 via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Hindu Business Line.

xi Shilpy Sinha, "Irda may let insurers invest in ETFs,” The Economic Times, 12 March 2011 via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 The Times of India Group.

xii Manojit Saha & Niladri Bhattacharya, “Irda seeks greater disclosure on NAV-guaranteed products,” Business Standard, 11 March 2011 via Dow Jones Factiva, © 2011 Business Standard Ltd.

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