New Delhi: The government may have to infuse more capital in the three public sector general insurance companies to improve their financial health, a senior government official said.
The government last year provided Rs 5,000 crore capital to three insurers –National Insurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited and United India Insurance Company.
Based on the performance in the FY23, the finance ministry would take a call as to how much capital they would require to meet regulatory requirement, the official said.
They are not in good financial health and fund would be infused in these entities to augment their solvency margin, the official added.
The solvency margin is the extra capital the companies must hold over and above the claim amounts they are likely to incur. It acts as a financial backup in extreme situations, enabling the company to settle all claims.
As per the regulator IRDAI’s mandate, the minimum solvency ratio insurance companies must maintain is 1.5 to lower risks. In terms of solvency margin, the required value is 150 per cent.
The Budget 2023-24 has not provided for the capital infusion for insurance companies but the funds can be sought through supplementary demand, the official said.
During 2020-21, Rs 9,950 crore was infused in three public sector general insurers by the government, out of which Rs 3,605 crore was infused in United India Insurance, Rs 3,175 crore in National Insurance and Rs 3,170 crore in Oriental Insurance.
Besides the capital infusion, an external consultant has also suggested a host of reforms to be undertaken by these companies.
Some of the suggestions have been incorporated and others are at the different phases of implementation, the official added.
Of the four state-run general insurance companies only New India Assurance Company is listed on the stock exchanges; the remaining three are wholly owned by the government.
The government has already announced its intention to privatise one general insurance company. To facilitate privatisation, Parliament has already approved amendments to the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act (GIBNA).
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2021-22 had announced a big-ticket privatisation agenda, which included two public sector banks and one general insurance company.
“We propose to take up privatisation of two Public Sector Banks and one General Insurance company in the year 2021-22. This would require legislative amendments,” she had said at the time.