Standalone healthcare insurance premium decline 9% in Apr-Jan

The gross premium collections of four standalone insurance companies declined 9 per cent during the period April 2012 to January 2013, though two of the insurers – Apollo Munich and Max Bupa – saw an increase of 34 and 76 per cent respectively, during the period.

According to insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory Development of India (Irda) data, the four companies that include Star Health and Allied Insurance, and Religare Health Insurance, earned Rs 1,315.77 crore till January in fiscal 2013, compared to Rs 1,446.91 crore during the same period.

The fall was led by Star Health, which saw its premium collections fall from Rs 1,009.56 crore to Rs 664.10 crore. Its collections in January 2013 stood at Rs 78.05 crore, compared to Rs 153.45 crore, a fall of 49 per cent.

The total healthcare insurance business is estimated to be Rs 15,000 crore, according to the president and COO of Religare Health Insurance, Nitin Jain, and growing at about 25 per cent annually.

Max Bupa, the 74:26 joint venture between Max India Limited and Bupa Finance Plc, UK, is confident of better days ahead for the health insurance segment in India. The company’s CEO, Manasije Mishra, said, “The recent Irda notification to allow life insurance agents to work as health insurance agents also, subject to fulfilling certain stipulations, is a positive trigger, especially given the low penetration of health insurance in India.”

Max Bupa’s gross premium collections stood at Rs 156.49 crore during April 2012 -January 2013, up from Rs 88.81 crore during the corresponding period last fiscal. Mishra added that the company aims to double to about 2 million lives by December 2013 from 1 million at December 2012.

On equity infusion and breaking even, Mishra said, “We will gradually increase the equity base from the current Rs 450 crore to Rs 750 crore by fiscal 2015, by which time we are hopeful of breaking even.” The company, he said, gets 80 per cent of its premium comes from individuals.

Jain had earlier said that with healthcare costs going up by about 15 per cent every year, the potential for health insurance is high in India.