Foreign reinsurers' branches (FRBs) in India will, in a breakthrough move, now be able to bid for reinsurance contracts along with Indian reinsurers. At present, GIC Re is the only active Indian reinsurer.
The much-awaited IRDAI (Reinsurance) Regulations, 2018 issued by IRDAI on 12 December 2018 allow GIC Re to retain the right of first refusal. However, in instances where FRBs offer rates lower than GIC Re and GIC Re cannot match those rates or GIC Re does not exercise its right, FRBs can win those reinsurance contracts.
The new reinsurance regulations come into effect on 1 January 2019 and will lead Indian reinsurers and FRBs to compete for business on equal terms.
A clause in the regulations reads, “Every cedant, shall be free to obtain best terms for its reinsurance protection of domestic risks, subject to the following:
“Cedants shall seek terms at least from all Indian reinsurers, who have been transacting reinsurance business (other th an emanating from obligatory cession) during the immediate past three continuous years and at least from four FRBs.”
Under the existing reinsurance regulations, reinsurance contracts could be offered to the FRBs only if GIC Re did not exercise its right and refused the business.
According to the new regulations, the reinsurance renewals will have to be executed at the beginning of every financial year. Also, insurers cannot seek quotes from any Indian insurer not registered with the IRDAI to transact reinsurance business.
Focus on maximising retention within the country
The new regulations lay down the following objectives for the reinsurance programme of every Indian insurer.
- Maximise retention within the country, subject to proper and adequate diversification of risks;
- Develop adequate technical capability and financial capacity;
- Secure the best possible reinsurance coverage required to protect the interest of policyholders and (retro)cedants at a reasonable cost;
- Simplify the administration of business.
The new regulations also stipulate that all Indian insurers are to maintain the maximum possible retention commensurate with their financial strength, the quality of risks and volume of business.
In life insurance, IRDAI has said the insurers should retain at least 25% of sum assured under pure protection and 50% for other categories of products.
India’s reinsurance market is estimated to be worth around INR50,000 crore ($7bn) and most of it is catered by the state-owned Indian reinsurer GIC Re. It is expected that keeping in view the current rate of growth of the Indian insurance industry, the country’s reinsurance market will double within next 10 years.
Currently, 10 global reinsurance entities operate in the Indian reinsurance market through their branches. These include Munich Re, Swiss Re, SCOR, Hannover Re, RGA Life Reinsurance Company of Canada, XL Insurance Company, Gen Re, AXA France Vie, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, and Lloyd's of London.