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Life insurers hit the first big hurdle since June

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Mumbai: A slow month of business from state-owned insurance behemoth Life Insurance Corp of India (LIC) has led to growth of new business premiums (NBP) for the life insurance industry recording a fall in November after four straight months of strong growth.Latest data from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) showed that the NBP in November for life insurers came at Rs 19,159 crore against Rs 26,221 crore in the same period last year, recording a fall of 27 per cent. The industry had recorded a 32 per cent growth in NBP in the month of October.NBP is the premium acquired from new policies in a year and is a metric to gauge business growth.LIC’s NBP declined more than 35 per cent to Rs 12,092.66 crore against Rs 18,770 crore in the same period last year, the data showed. Meanwhile, private insurers saw their NBP fall by 5.15 per cent to Rs 7,066.65 crore.According to a note by Kotak Institutional Equities, private sector players Aditya Birla Life and ICICI Prudential had a “weak” month in individual APE (annual premium equivalent), whereas HDFC Life, Max Life and Tata AIA performed better than the industry. SBI Life and Bajaj Life were broadly in line with industry averages, it added.Individual APE for the private sector declined 7 per cent, while group APE was down 12 per cent — around 7 per cent decline in overall APE.“This may be due to a high base effect; November 2019 was a strong month for the private industry with 27 per cent growth as compared to 3-4 per cent growth in September and October 2019,” according to Kotak Institutional Equities.For the listed insurers, HDFC Life saw its total premium collection in the month of November dropping by 11 per cent, ICICI Pru’s November APE fell by 30 per cent. Max Life’s November premium grew by 13 per cent, the data showed, while SBI Life’s premium grew by 3.4 per cent in the reporting period.“In November ’20, Max Life grew by 8 per cent YoY in terms of Individual Adjusted FYP, making us one of the top players with a positive outlook when the private industry de-grew by 7 per cent,” said Prashant Tripathy, MD, Max Life Insurance.“The steady uptake of protection products and customers’ growing focus towards securing the future of their loved ones during uncertain times have acted as catalysts,” he added.According to experts, a lower base in FY22 due to the impact of the lockdown on the sales of life insurance products could paint a better picture for the industry.

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