The year 2016 experienced innovations and developments in the insurance industry that brought changes in the sector aimed towards benefiting the customers. The opening of e-insurance account is one such example that will help the customers in the long run. Also, the introduction of selling and buying of insurance policies through e-commerce will certainly bring a new buying behavioural shift which will come with a lot of benefits for both the insurers and the customers. Adding to this, in November, the Government of India announced demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee notes. This move will help the industry to move towards digitisation with a view of making government's 'Make in India' campaign a success. With this, customers are now expected to increasingly opt for electronic payment of their insurance premium.
In last year's budget, the announcement of travel insurance as an option while booking railway ticket was announced and the industry saw a good response from people. Similarly, we expect key announcements that will be made during the Union Budget 2017-18, to be positively accepted by people and industry.
Two major areas wherein we expect some focus from the Government is home insurance and health insurance. This year, various states like West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Andhra Pradesh were flood striken. The data on the frequency of these floods hitting the country has revealed high number of losses to property, assets and lives. Since, house is one's biggest financial asset, introducing Income Tax exemption on premium paid will push more people to opt for home insurance. Today, home insurance is mandatory only for people buying house through home loan, but we believe that tax exemption will not only motivate all home buyers/owners to opt for home insurance to protect their house but will also aid in deepening the penetration of insurance as a product.
Last year's Budget saw various initiatives undertaken in the healthcare space including proposal to start a programme to provide dialysis services in district hospitals, increasing the supply of generic drugs under the government's Jan Aushadhi programme, pushing for medical technology and so on. However, we expect certain key resolutions from Union Budget 2017-18 for making medical devices affordable which will lighten the burden on customers' pocket. Further, higher tax exemption on health insurance/ PA premium to individual tax payers and also waiver of service tax on health insurance premium will certainly be welcome move, as these will make the policies more affordable for public at large.
The writer is K.G.Krishnamoorthy Rao, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Future Generali India Insurance Company Limited.