New India Assurance to increase overseas presence

Chennai, Jan 3 (IANS) India’s top general insurer New India Assurance Company will expand its overseas operations in Canada, Myanmar and Qatar, a top company official said Friday.

Within the country, the company will increase its network to 2,000 offices, including 1,000 micro or one-man outlets, hire around 1,100 freshers and hopes to close the year with a total premium income of around Rs.15,000 crore.
“We will be reactivating our operations in Canada, enter Myanmar and Qatar. We will have branch operations there. Currently our overseas operations contribute around 20 percent of the total premium. We want to take this up to 25 percent in three/four year’s time,” G. Srinivasan, chairman-cum-managing director told reporters here.
The Rs.12,505 crore premium income New India have operations in 22 countries, earning a premium of around Rs.2,500 crore last year and a profit of around Rs.200 crore.
“We came out of the Canadian market 30 years back but have been renewing our branch licence there. We will be active in that market soon. Approvals from Government of India and IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) are awaited,” Srinivasan added.
According to him, New India will first open a representative office in Myanmar and would start business operations once the country permits new players.
“We have the approval from the Indian government and formal approval from IRDA is awaited. We have to get the approvals from the centre and IRDA for our Qatar plans,” Srinivasan said.
On the domestic front, New India will soon 2,000 offices out of which 50 percent will be micro offices by the end of this fiscal, Srinivasan said.
The company will be adding around 700 micro offices this year alone to comply with the government’s directive to have an office in towns with a population of 10,000 people.
“Last year around 300 micro offices fetched a business of around Rs.200 crore. We will upgrade the micro offices into a full fledged branch office once they cross a threshold,” Srinivasan said.
Speaking the company’s performance, Srinivasan said New India has gained market share this fiscal, something that is happening for the first time since the industry was opened up to the private sector in 2000.
“We have earned a premium of around Rs.8,400 crore till December 2013 logging a growth of around 15 percent which is better than the industry’s average growth rate. We have grown in motor, health and marine hull portfolios,” Srinivasan said.
According to him, the industry is expecting a hike in the motor third party insurance premium in April.
“We are open for deregulation of the motor third party insurance premium now fixed by IRDA. The deregulation is a call that the IRDA has to take,” Srinivasan said.
He said the company will be increasing its headcount by around 1,100 people in officers and assistants cadres taking into account the retirements that are set to happen in couple of years time.
New India will also be hiring around 20,000 agents this fiscal.