Ministry seeks mergers of three PSU non-life insurers without much disruption

Examination date for the promotion may be declared by GIPSA in May, sources familiar with the development said. It means that there will not be any forceful retirement or exit for the time being. Redeployment will be done which  means excess staff will be transferred to other offices and places, the sources said, adding, that things are yet to clear whether there will be `VRS and Pension”.

Ravi Mittal, additional secretary, Ministry of Finance

After finance minister Arun Jaitly made a Budgetary proposal for the merger of three state owned general insurers,   , finance ministry officials met the CMDs of these companies,_Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United Insurance- in New Delhi on Friday.

GIPSA, the umbrella body of all the four state-owned non-life insurers, in course of time will appoint a consultant to prepare the strategies for the merger, said sources who attended the meeting.

Ravi Mittal, additional secretary, Ministry of Finance (MoF) in his address in the meeting, had asked the the three CMDs to keep their ongoing business as usual including effecting all promotional exercises, without causing any major disruptions

GIPSA had earlier stalled the internal promotional exercises among the five members including GIC Re in January due to some technical reasons and incidentally, after a few days, Jaitley had announced the merger of the three state-owned non-life insurers by the next fiscal-end.

As the government has made it clear that business will be as usual, it means that the year’s promotion exercise will be conducted soon, said sources..

Examination date for the promotion may be declared by GIPSA in May, sources familiar with the development said. It means that there will not be any forceful retirement or exit for the time being. Redeployment will be done which  means excess staff will be transferred to other offices and places, the sources said, adding, that things are yet to be clear on sensitive issues like `VRS and Pension’..

K Sanath Kumar, CMD, National Insurance Company

When contacted, K Sanath Kumar, CMD, National Insurance Company, who had attended the meeting, said,“ Today there was a meeting with officials of Department of Financial services and CMDs of three PSU Insurers identified for merger, the first such meeting after Budget announcement.”

The discussions, he said, were preliminary and it was agreed that there would be more discussions at various levels to work out a road map and the time lines.

“Till that time it would be business as usual including promotion exercise etc. The Government assured that neither the customers nor the employees will have any grounds for any concern,’’ he said..

Source: Asia  Insurance Post

Date: 16th February 2018

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Prem Watsa earns a net profit of $930 mn from stake sales in ICICI Lombard General

“The results improvement was driven by net after-tax gains in excess of $1.9 billion related to the reduction of Fairfax shareholding in ICICI Lombard and the sale of its 97.7percent equity interest in First Capital. The reduction of our shareholding in ICICI Lombard to about 10 percent resulted in a net after-tax gain of $930 million,” said Prem Watsa,, CEO, Fairfax

Windfall gains from its Indian operations have swung  Prem Watsa’s Canada-based Fairfax Financial Holdings to the profit in the fiscal year 2017. Aided by a massive profit in its ICICI Lombard deal, the multinational re/insurer has reported net earnings of $1.74 billion in its global operations for 2017 compared to a net loss of $512.5 million in 2016.

The results improvement was driven by net after-tax gains in excess of $1.9 billion related to the reduction of its shareholding in ICICI Lombard and the sale of its 97.7 percent equity interest in First Capital.

Watsa, who through one of his companies Lombard was holding 36  per cent in ICICI Lombard General Insurance till July 2017, had to pair it down to below 10 per cent in tranches for regulatory compliance as he intended to set up another general insurance company -Digit- along with the partnership of Kamesh Goyal, who quit his job in Allianz before joining hands with Watsa. The joint venture was 17 years oldwhen Watsa had to bring down his stakes in it.

“Our results in 2017 were the best in our thirty-two-year history, in spite of some of the largest catastrophe losses in history as a result of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and the California wildfires,” said Prem Watsa, CEO, Fairfax while announcing results of the company.  .

“We also ended the year with a record $2.4 billion in cash and marketable securities at the holding company level. The reduction of our shareholding in ICICI Lombard to about 10 percent resulted in a net after-tax gain of $930 million; and we entered into a strategic alliance with Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company resulting in the sale of First Capital for cash proceeds of $1.7 billion and a net after-tax gain of approximately $1.0 billion.”

Meanwhile , the company, with a 49 per cent stake, has established another general insurance company-Digit-  in India and has also applied for a license from India’s insurance regulator, IRDAI to set up a reinsurance branch in India.

Overall, Fairfax grew gross premium written to €12.21 billion in 2017 from $9.53 billion in 2016.

The combined ratio of the insurance and reinsurance operations was 106.6 percent on a consolidated basis, including 11.2 consolidated combined ratio points of losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the California fires.

For 2016 the combined ratio was of 92.5 percent. As a result, the operations produced an underwriting loss of $641.5 million compared to an underwriting profit of $575.9 million in 2016.

The insurance and reinsurance operations produced an operating loss (excluding investment results) of $215.7 million, compared to an operating income of $1.04 billion in 2016, reflecting $906.1 million of hurricane losses from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Source: Asia Insurance Post

Date: 16th  February 2018

United India Insurance chief expects PSU insurers’ merger by March 2019

Move may not affect competition or manpower, says United India Insurance MD

The proposed merger of three public sector insurance firms may be completed by early 2019, said M.N. Sarma, chairman and managing director ofUnited India Insurance Co. Ltd.

Talking to the media on the sidelines of a National Insurance-ASSOCHAM Summit, he said that a meeting of all the three heads of the respective insurance PSUs had been convened on February 16 in New Delhi to discuss the budget proposal.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in the Budget, proposed a merger of three general insurers — National Insurance Co. Ltd., United India Insurance and Oriental Insurance Company Ltd.

‘Operational advantages’

“There are a lot of operational advantages and savings that will accrue from this proposed merger,” Mr. Sarma said even as he expressed confidence that neither competition nor manpower would be affected by the creation of a single entity. “The issue is to make the companies stronger,” he added.

To a question on the management of the assets of these three companies, he said that all the finer points would be worked out progressively.

Earlier at the event on connecting wellness to health awareness, he mooted the idea of pursuing a carrot-and-stick policy to incentivise people to buy health insurance coverwhile leading a more healthy life. “Unless the rod is used, people will not fall in line.. insurers could then give discounts to the insured for staying healthy,” he said.

National Insurance chairman-cum-managing director K. Sanath Kumar said that an awareness campaign was needed to remove the air of distrust between the insurer and the insured while encouraging people to take care of their health. R. Chandrasekharan, secretary general of the General Insurance Council said that health insurance was not for aggrandisement of the hospital chains but for helping a person in health distress.

Source: The Hindu

Date: 13th February, 2018

 

 

Merger most likely by end of next financial year: CMD, National Insurance

In a Q&A, K Sanath Kumar says the challenge of technology and cultural convergence can be addressed

After the initial public offering (IPO) of New India Assurance last year, Kolkata-based National Insurance was next in line for an IPO early next financial year. However, now with the government proposing the merger of three public sector general insurance companies -— Oriental Insurance, National Insurance and United India Assurance — National Insurance will now have to re-prioritise its strategies. K Sanath Kumar, chairman and managing director of the state-owned insurer, in an interview with Namrata Acharya, points out how the mega-merger will create new synergies amid challenges.

What are your views on the merger of the three public sector general insurance firms?

The merger will increase the combined strength of the public sector insurance companies, and also add to enterprise value. We hope that such a merger will bring more synergies and consolidation of market share. It would lead to the creation of largest general insurance company in the country. Today the general insurance market is very fragmented. So creating large entities in a fragmented market makes sense.

What kind of synergy can we expect in the merged entity?

Different public sector general insurance companies have presence in different geographies. They also have different distribution channels and specific array of customers. For example, some companies have a good presence in the power sector, others are good in retail, while others may have presence in oil and energy–so all this leads to synergies.

What are the challenges in creating this insurance behemoth?

It would be a challenge to manage such a big company, but we have necessary management expertise within us to oversee the merger and drive its growth.

One challenge would be technology, as we are on different technology platforms that have to be brought together, However, the challenge can be met with the present technology. Also, there should be a cultural convergence, which also is possible. Salaries and terms of conditions of all the employees should remain the same.

Would it be a challenge to rationalise the products as all the three companies have different offerings?

Most of the products are essentially similar with some finer aspects of differentiation. Hence rationalisation of product will not be difficult. It is difficult to predict how the premium will move — whether it will go up or down.

What would the expected size of the merged entity be?

This will not simply be an addition of numbers, although the total premium income alone together would be around Rs 40,000 crore (Rs 400 billion). Then there will be a lot of convergence and rationalisation of offices as well.

You had been in the process of having an IPO. Now with the sudden change in government decision, did you incur any costs?

It is very clear now that the combined entity will go to the market. We haven’t appointed any merchant bankers as yet, and only discussions had been going on with the government.

What do you think is the rationale and government’s thinking behind the merger?

In the banking sector too, government had announced that there would be consolidation, so it is continuation of government’s vision of creating a larger government-owned entity in the financial sector. This is just a natural corollary.

What is the realistic timeframe for the merger?

I was told that the merger would be most likely finalised by the end of next financial year. The Insurance Nationalisation Act has to be amended and necessary permission for the merger has to be acquired from the Irdai. Share transfer is not a challenge, as 100 per cent is held by the government.

 

Source- Business Standard

Date- 6th February 2018

IRDAI doubles capital requirements for broking companies

The new regulations, which have been unveiled on Wednesday, have specified Rs 75 lakh, Rs 4 crore and Rs 5 crore of capital for direct broker, reinsurance broker and composite broker respectively.

 

The insurance regulator IRDAI has doubled the capital requirements for setting up different categories  insurance broking companies  in the country.

 

 

The new regulations, which have been unveiled on Wednesday, have specified Rs 75 lakh(earlier Rs 50lakh), Rs 4 crore(Rs 2 cr) and Rs 5 crore(Rs2.5 cr) of capital for direct broker, reinsurance broker and composite broker respectively.

 

Going by the IRDAI, there are around 420 brokers in the country including 365 direct brokers, 57 cmposite brokers and six exclusivereinsurance brokers. According to TS Vijayan, chairman , IRDAI  said of insurance broking sector contributed around Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 1.28 lakhcrore of non-life insurance premium last year. A study by EY India projected non-life insurance premium to reach Rs 4 lakh crore with broking channels contributing around Rs 1.6 lakh crore on a conservative basis.

 

A foreign broking company after exiting an Indian joint venture will have a `cooling off’ period of two years before it is allowed to re-enters the Indian market.

 

A license issued by the IRDAI will have a validity of of three years from the date of issue and the Insurance Broker can’t undertakemulti-level marketing for solicitation and procuring insurance products, said IRDAI.Besides,the business of the insurance broker has to  be carried in such a manner that, not more than 50 percent of the remuneration shall emanate from any one client in a financial year.

 

 

The net-worth of an Insurance Broker will at no time during the validity of license fall below: i. Rs 50 lakh for direct broker; ii. 50% of the minimum capital requirements or contribution or equivalent specified under Regulation 19(1) for reinsurance / composite broker, said the new regulations..

 

An  Insurance Broker has to take adequate steps for redressal of grievances of its clients within 14 days of receipt of such complaint and keep the Authority informed about the number, nature and other particulars of the complaints received from such clients in format and manner as may be specified by the IRDAI.

 

 

Every insurance broker has to take out and maintain at all times a professional indemnity insurance cover – Rs 50 crore for direct broker, Rs 75 crore for a reinsurance broker, Rs 100 crore for a composite broker-throughout the validity of the period of the licenses issued to them by the IRDAI.

 

 

Risk Management

 

An insurance broker may charge the client fee for the services rendered by them to the client for risk management services or other similar services as per the functions defined in regulations. (2) The insurance broker can undertake this activity only for commercial risks based on the written confirmation from client for those fees.

 

The Insurance broker cannot receive both the remuneration and reward as stipulated under the IRDAI (Payment of commission or remuneration or reward to insurance agents and insurance intermediaries) Regulations, 2016 and fees for the same risk management services as given in Regulation 2(1)(q). (4)

 

 

The insurance broker has to obtain a written mandate from the client to offer risk management services and shall keep a record of therisk management services offered to the client which will include details such as name of the client, place of risk, nature and type of risk management services undertaken, amount of fee charged from the client, basis of fee charged, etc

 

The insurance company and the insurance broker has to maintain arms length distance between themselves. More explicitly, no employee or director of the insurance broker shall be a director, employee, or agent of the insurance company.  The insurance broker will not not offer loans or other facilities or incentives to officers or employees of the insurer within the group and vice versa.

 

The business of the insurance broker shall be carried in such a manner that, not more than 50 percent of the remuneration can emanate from any one client in a financial year

 

For insurance brokers promoted by Corporate Houses having an insurance company within their group, not more than 25 per cent of the insurance premiums (separately for life and for general (incl. health) insurance business) handled by the insurance broker in any financial year can be placed with the insurance company within the promoter group. The broker shall establish internal machinery to monitor this on an ongoing basis

 

Promoters of the insurance broker shall give an undertaking that none of the clients within promoter group will be compelled for their insurance requirements

 

Every insurance broker , within ninety days from the date of the Auditor‘s report, has to  take steps to rectify any deficiencies, made out in the auditor‘s report and inform the IRDAI accordingly.

 

In the case of reinsurance contracts, it may be agreed between the parties specifically or as part of international market practices that the registered reinsurance broker or composite broker can collect the premium and remit to the reinsurer and/or collect the claims due from the reinsurer to be passed on to the insurer.

 

In case of reinsurance and composite brokers it is mandatory that the insurance broker needs to have an internal audit systems and designate a compliance officer who is an employee of the insurance broker. (3) Without prejudice to the above, it is mandatory for an insurance broker who in a financial year earns more than rupees five crore remuneration (including reward) to have a designated Compliance Officer who will be responsible for the internal controls and systems.

 

 

Claim Consultancy

 

-Insurance brokers may undertake claims consultancy only for commercial lines of general insurance business, subject to the following conditions,

 

-for claims not exceeding Rs. 10 crore the insurance broker may undertake claims consultancy provided such claim does not emanate from a policy, which has been placed by the same insurance broker.

 

-For claims exceeding Rs 10 crores the insurance broker may undertake claims consultancy with the prior approval of the Authority.

 

Any dispute between two or more insurance brokers arising out of such claims consultancy arrangements shall, in the first instance, be considered by the Insurance Brokers Association of India (IBAI) and thereafter the IBAI shall forward such dispute together with its recommendation to theAuthority for final disposal

 

 

An insurance broker can outsource activity to an entity (other than an individual) only where the activity to be outsourced is morethan 5% of the total outsourcing expenditure.

 

In any case, an insurance broker has to take the prior approval of the IRDAI for the following; (a) Change of Principal Officer; (b) Change of Director(s)/Partner(s) provided that in the event of resignation of the Director / Partner, the Authority may be informed;

 

 

In the case of reinsurance contracts, it may be agreed between the parties specifically or as part of international market practices that the registered reinsurance broker or composite broker can collect the premium and remit to the reinsurer and/or collect the claims due from the reinsurer to be passed on to the insurer.

 

Source: Asia  Insurance Post

Date: 31st January 2018

Swiss Re further strengthens its position in Asia

“Asia has experienced strong economic growth and development in recent years. This naturally comes with additional risk for businesses, governments and societies. As the world becomes more interconnected, the nature of risks develops: geopolitical uncertainty, growing environmental concerns, ageing populations and new health challenges becomesignificant issues to be addressed in this region”

 

Swiss Re, the largest reinsurer in the world, has strengthened its presence in Asia with the launch of its regional headquarters, Swiss Re Asia Pte. Ltd. (Swiss Re Asia), in Singapore, and the appointment of a new regional Board of Directors for the entity.

 

“The Board of Directors will provide Swiss Re Asia with  external perspectives and identify emerging trends that have the potential to affect our business across the region.The composition of the Board of Directors ensures that the Asia-wide expertise of external Board members complements the global reinsurance experience of the members from Swiss Re’s Group Executive Committee.” said a Swiss Re press release..

 

Chairman of Swiss Re Asia’s Board of Directors, Lim Siong Guan, says: “Asia has experienced strong economic growth and development in recent years. This naturally comes with additional risk for businesses, governments and societies. As the world becomes more interconnected, the nature of risks develops: geopolitical uncertainty, growing environmental concerns, ageing populations and new health challenges become significant issues to be addressed in this region. We look forward to working with our clients and partners here to tackle these challenges and make Asia’s societies more resilient.”

 

 

Swiss Re Asia’s CEO, Jayne Plunkett, says: “The establishment of our regional headquarters in Singapore and a regional Board of Directors demonstrates our commitment to Asia. It brings us closer to market and allows us to better serve our regional clients through deep local insights combined with our unique global expertise.”

 

 

The Board of Directors of Swiss Re Asia is chaired by Lim Siong Guan, former Group President of GIC, and now Advisor to the GIC GroupExecutive Committee. Additional external directors to the Board are:

–    Masaaki Shirakawa, Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University and former Governor of the Bank of Japan;

–    Deanna Ong Aun Nee, Chief People Officer and Managing Director at GIC;

–    Raymond K. F. Ch’ien, Chairman of Hang Seng Bank, Member of the Board of Directors of Swiss Re Ltd, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd and China Resources Power Holdings Company Ltd, Member of the Economic Development Commission of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR; and

–    Urs Buchmann, Vice-Chairman, Greater China at Credit Suisse AG Hong Kong Branch.

 

 

The Board of Directors also comprises five members of Swiss Re’s Group Executive Committee: Thomas Wellauer, Group Chief Operating Officer; Patrick Raaflaub, Group Chief Risk Officer; David Cole, Group Chief Financial Officer; John R. Dacey, Group Chief Strategy Officer; and Jayne Plunkett, Chief Executive Officer of Swiss Re Asia.

 

Signs MoU with NIA to develop insurance industry skills in India

Swiss Re’s Global Business Solutions unit in India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with National Insurance Academy (NIA), Pune, India’s premier institute of insurance education to collaborate as a technical partner to the latter’s academic activities and programmes. The initiative aims to develop re/insurance skills, insights and expertise among students and professionals aspiring to pursue careers in insurance in India.

 

Through this partnership, Swiss Re will use its global and local market expertise to support the development of the course curriculum for NIA’s flagship Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) insurance programme. Swiss Re will also provide access to bespoke workshops and create specialist modules and seminars on risk management, insurance, reinsurance, and data analytics. There will be a regular programme of guest lectures by Swiss Re experts that will span different insurance business lines, including health, motor, life, property, and casualty.

In addition, Swiss Re will work with NIA to explore the prospect of establishing a specialist course in actuarial science. This is in response to the rapidly growing demand for actuaries in India and is a conscious effort to help close the gap between rising demand for qualified actuaries and their limited availability at present.

 

 

Commenting on the MoU, Amit Kalra, Head of Global Services, Bangalore, Swiss Re Global Business Solutions India Private Limited, says: “Swiss Re’s partnership with NIA is an important step in our ongoing efforts to increase the availability of suitable talent for India’s insurance industry. We look forward to working with NIA, bringing Swiss Re’s global expertise and understanding of the Indian market totrain young people for fruitful careers in risk management.

 

Source: Asia Insurance Post

Date: 31st January 2018