PwC – COVID-19: Impact on the Indian insurance industry
Executive summary :
The insurance industry seeks to protect a country’s people, assets and businesses. Hence, the business of insurance has always been closely linked to a country’s business performance and asset ownership.
Life insurance protects the livelihoods of people and future earnings and has a direct correlation with the earnings of people, their business performance and net worth. General insurance protects assets and businesses and their valuation as well as overall economic activity. Hence, a popular way of measuring insurance penetration is to benchmark it with the GDP of a country.
The impact of COVID-19
Along with the European Union (USD 15.6 billion), the United States (USD 5.8 billion) and Japan (USD 5.2 billion), India is among the 15 economies most affected by COVID-19 and the slowdown in production in China. For India, the trade impact is estimated to be very high in the chemicals sector (USD 129 million), textile and apparel (USD 64 million), automotive sector (USD 34 million), electrical machinery (USD 12 million), leather products (USD 13 million), metals and metal products (USD 27 million), and wood products and furniture (USD 15 million).
Apart from manufacturing, many businesses have been indirectly affected by the virus. The lockdown in major cities in India has resulted in public establishments like restaurants, amusement parks and movie theatres being shut down completely and their revenues being impacted. These establishments require urgent relief from the Government, and the current situation may lead to lower renewals of employee benefit and life and accident policies.
Many sectors have been affected
Further, the automobile sector was witnessing a slowdown before the COVID-19 outbreak and thus, the motor insurance segment, which accounts for over 35% of the overall insurance premium collection, was going through a rough phase with virtually no growth in the own damage category.
The pandemic and lockdown may have a significant impact on the automobile insurance sector, which is one of the largest revenue sources for the general insurance industry.
Similarly, the hospitality and events industries, which avail of event, liability and property insurance, are also set to take big hits. Reduced travel may hit the airline industry badly and will lead to a considerable decline in the travel insurance segment, which was very profitable. While the demand for health insurance is expected to increase considerably, underwriting thresholds may also go up and thus the negative movement may not be offset.
Long-term locking of funds in pension schemes may also suffer a hit and people are likely to be averse to locking their money for long periods.
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