Aug 29, 2008

India - Now get a life cover for 40% less

MUMBAI: Life protection has become far more affordable. The cost of life insurance has come down by up to 40%, with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) reducing the capital that insurance companies need to sell term policies. For the second time since the liberalisation of the insurance industry in 2000, there has been a dramatic reduction in term-insurance rates, making life protection a great deal cheaper. Term policies are purely life covers as against endowment policies, which have a sizeable savings component. While the premium for endowment policies will also soften, the benefit will be more apparent on term covers. Among private life insurance companies, Kotak Life has announced new rates, while newcomer Aegon Religare has announced term rates, which, the company says, are the lowest in the industry. Largest private life insurance company ICICI Prudential Life Insurance is in the process of lodging new rates. The chief of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), the largest insurer in the country, said the Corporation may review its term rates. Kotak Life Insurance managing director Gaurang Shah said: “Two developments have led us to reduce our rates. First, we had the opportunity to review our own claims experience, since we introduced preferred term for non-smokers six years ago. Also, the revised solvency margin requirement introduced by IRDA in March has brought down capital requirement by almost two-thirds, which has helped bring down rates.” Aegon Religare Life Insurance, which launched operations earlier this month, has decided to use competitive pricing on term rates as an edge. “We had decided to introduce a product with the lowest rate, which is also supported by our campaign. Given our pricing, it is possible for a 30-year old to get a Rs 10-lakh cover at only Rs 166 a month,” said Aegon Religare Life Insurance CEO Rajiv Jamkhedkar. When contacted, LIC chairman TS Vijayan said LIC was constantly reviewing its term rates to retain its competitive advantage and any improvement in mortality was always passed on in the form of lower term rates. In a statement issued here, Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance said the new rates were almost 40% lower than the old rates. “The rate reduction is partly as a result of the reduced solvency margin requirements laid down by IRDA. A key player in both the group term life and individual term life businesses, Kotak Life Insurance is among the first life insurance companies to pass on this benefit to the consumer,” the statement said. However, agents of insurance companies said it is not always possible to get the standard rates. It is very rare for a person to get standard rates above the age of 40 with a few private companies, since these companies have a very narrow range for various parameters defining good health. These parameters include weight, blood pressure and abdominal girth, among other things.

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