Leading insurers have given thumbs up to some of the announcements in Budget -2018,unveiled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday.The stock markets also cheered the insurnace stocks that have seen almost over five per cent appreciation during the trading after the Budget announced measures like flagship national health protection scheme to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year along with other measures that that directly or indirectly will provide boost to the Indian insurance industry  .  

General insurance Industry 

Alice Vaidyan, CMD, GIC Re

Government. thrust to health insurance coverage is a much needed measure to address protection gap for the Indian population and will boost penetration in a major way. The success will depend upon the adequate pricing based on actuarial assessment. We have a very good template for boosting penetration to emulate in terms of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

Indian economy’s progression towards a fully pensioned and fully insured society continues with massive thrust on health insurance in the Union Budget 2018. Rs 5 lakh per family and 10 crore families – the sum insured involved is 50 lakh crore. This has the potential to match, if not dwarf the crop segment which saw momentous growth during last two years. This will boost the growth prospects of the insurance sector on a sustainable basis and will have knock on effect on the reinsurance growth as well.

K Sanath Kumar, CMD, National Insurance Company

Raising cover upto Rs 5 lakh in health insurance schemes under revived Rashtriya Suraksha Bima Yojana is a welcome step. Some of states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already implemented the scheme. It will provide tremendous support to healthcare. There is already a sharing pattern between the centre and the state government on the issue. It will also drive creation of new infrastructure. Now people will go for higher value cover.

Bhargav Dasgupta, MD & CEO, ICICI Lombard General Insurance

The move to provide Rs 5 lakh cover per annum to families is a significant step forward from the mass health schemes launched in the past. It will provide a reasonably adequate cover to nearly 40% of India’s population. While we await the details, we believe that this step will act as a catalyst in increasing health insurance penetration. We look forward to participating in this scheme and contributing to the government’s endeavour to protect our citizens from health-related risks.”

Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance

In most of my talks before the budget I have emphasized on the need for appropriate National Health Cover for all the citizens which has been considered by the Government in this Union Budget by launching National Health Protection Scheme. Countries which provide higher health insurance cover for their citizens, have people that have a higher life expectancy. The same will happen in India now with this announcement. As an insurer we will deliver exceptionally good services & facilities for people who are covered and make it a great success.

The government also announced providing of other services like micro-insurance to Jan Dhan Bank Accounts holders which will help increase penetration of Insurance.  In the line of government’s ‘Ease of Living’ objective, the Government has encouraged Senior Citizens to buy health insurance by increasing tax exemption limit for the same under Section 80D from Rs 30, 000 to Rs 50, 000.  We welcome this move from the Government since it will benefit the citizens of the country.

MS Sreedhar, MD and CEO, Royal Sundaram General Insurance Company 
The Union budget has set a positive tone overall and affirms the government’s continued commitment to push reforms and investments.   The government seeks to bring greater focus on the rural and agricultural segments through positive initiatives and has proposed some far reaching reforms with a view to boost economic growth. The proposed National Health Protection Scheme is a timely move to not only make health insurance accessible but also offer wider coverage to manage critical illness.  

These initiatives would usher in a new era for the under penetrated general insurance industry.  In addition, the increased limit for exemption under Section 80D for health insurance premium to Rs. 50,000/- and raising the limit on critical illness up to Rs.1 lakh (both for senior citizens) is a welcome move.  However, introduction of tax on long term capital gain may be a dampener for the stock markets.  Overall, we hope that this budget will aid in consolidating the reforms and steering the economy in the right direction.”

Pushan Mahapatra, MD& CEO, SBI General Insurance

We welcome the Government’s initiatives on broadening the scope for medical insurance for Low Income Groups. With the announcement of the National Health Protection Scheme initiative which will benefit 10 crore families with upto Rs. 5 lakh per year, the government has made some serious efforts to improve state of healthcare in the country and made it a prime focus as this is touted to be the largest benefit program in the world.

Further, raising the limit for health insurance premium from Rs. 30000 to 50000 under 80 D and allowing a deduction of Rs 1 lakh for critical illness for senior citizens will prompt a shift in the mindset of consumers who still think they do not require insurance and encourage them to review their decision.

The Government has announced exploring Blockchain on Technology, which would make payment across platforms easier. With a focus on healthcare, agriculture, education, technology and housing, the Budget is largely inclusive, reinvigorating various segments, which in turn is beneficial to the insurance sector.
 Mahesh Balasubramanian, MD & CEO, Kotak General Insurance
It is very heartening to hear  the Finance Minsiter clearly spell out the Govts. focus on healthcare protection in the country. Initiatives like increasing health & education cess will allow more room for spending on healthcare. Schemes like AYUSHMAAN BHARAT, PM will get more people in the healthcare fold. Increase in exemption limits for Sr. Citizens u/s 80D will incentivize the elderly for buying health insurance.”

Antony Jacob, CEO, Apollo Munich Health Insurance
India the second most populated country in the world with a sizable population (20%) above the age of 60 years. The aging population has typical healthcare requirements and to fund the same they are keen to seek a health insurance cover. 

However, post retirement they are worried about funding health insurance premiums. Government’s multiple initiatives announced today to enhance the affordability of buying health insurance for seniors is a welcome move and will go a long way in providing them with a financial cushion in medical adversities.  
With approximately 500 million beneficiaries, an insurance scheme of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization is a welcome move not just to maintain a healthy India but this I believe will also create several lakh/s new jobs in the country as new healthcare facilities will come up in smaller districts and villages. This move will go a long way in empowering India’s poor and underprivileged.

  Ashish Mehrotra, MD & CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance

The one key takeaway from Union Budget 2018 is clearly the government’s vision of achieving inclusiveness – financial, health and social. And the Finance Minister didn’t leave any stone unturned when it came to ensuring that India stood tall among its counterparts. In terms of health insurance penetration, so far India trailed its counterparts with 2/3rd of Indians still being devoid of any kind of health insurance cover.

Aayushman Bharat – world’s largest health protection scheme – is a big step towards implementing health and financial inclusion and will help drive health insurance penetration while bringing Indians at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) into the insurance fold with a sizeable insurance cover.

The budget is particularly supportive from a senior citizens’ health coverage viewpoint. India has a medical inflation rate of 13%-15% and the enhanced exemption – of INR 50,000 under Section 80D and additional critical illness exemption of INR 1 lakh under Section 80 DDB – will incentivizes senior citizens to get higher/ sufficient medical insurance coverage to tackle the growing medical expense burden.”

Mayank Bathwal, CEO, Aditya Birla Health Insurance Company

The announcement towards building a holistic healthcare protection ecosystem is a revolutionary move undertaken by the government. The health insurance claims in the country today contributes to nearly 5 per cent of the total healthcare spends, clearly reflecting that most of the citizens in the country are either under-insured or un-insured. The announcement of National Healthcare protection scheme reinforces government’s commitment towards providing healthcare protection solutions and mitigating the financial uncertainties of vulnerable families in the country.

Additionally, FM’s proposal to raise a deduction under health insurance premium to Rs. 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh for senior citizens with critical illnesses, along with the allocation of additional funds under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana will provide a fresh impetus to the adoption of protection solutions in the country.

Roopam Asthana, CEO & Whole Time Director, Liberty Videocon General Insurance
 I am very excited by the National Health Protection Scheme which will provide a health cover of Rs.500,000- to 10 crore families from the weaker sections. Push for greater penetration of the Prime Minister schemes for life and personal accident insurance amongst Jan Dhan account holders is also going towards increased risk mitigation for the weaker sections of the society. Merger of 3 PSU general insurance companies followed by disinvestment is a positive move as it will create a company with large scale that will drive value. Increase in tax exemption relating to health insurance for senior citizens is a step in the right direction as our demography will age quickly over the medium term.

 Shailaja Lall, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

The National Health Protection Scheme, is definitely a welcome step in the right direction. However, for the scheme to be successful at the ground level and in the long run, its implementation, from a claims administration and logistical perspective, needs to be monitored on a year on year basis. Adequate funds will need to be allocated annually and the Government will need to ensure continuity of cover for the covered individuals.

Mahavir Chopra,Director – Health, Life and Strategic Initiatives ,Coverfox.com

Given the lack of enough public healthcare infrastructure, the proposal to launch a social security program with regards to public healthcare – the National Healthcare protection scheme that will support 50 Crore underprivileged with health financing is a welcome initiative that was long awaited. 

While the increase in the health insurance deduction is a great step, given the recent hike in health insurance premiums for senior citizens, from an Insurance industry’s standpoint, the budget has not been encouraging. We were expecting waiver of GST for senior citizen health insurance, tax sops for insurance products like home and term life insurance (extremely low on penetration) that provide super-essential and currently absent financial security to the middle-class population at large.”

Life Insurance Industry 

Rajesh Sud, CEO & Managing Director, Max Life Insurance 

The increase in cess to 4% on personal income tax will impact the disposal income in the hands of the consumers, which in turn may reduce household savings. The budget does not provide adequate incentives to consumers to invest in life insurance for their long term savings and protection needs. However the enhanced deduction for health insurance premium to Rs 50,000 is a welcome move.

Pankaj Razdan, MD & CEO, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance and Dy. CE, Aditya Birla Capital 

A tax neutral budget for the life insurance industry also offers more credit play for the insurance companies. Additionally, ULIP emerges as a beneficial long term investment option under the new tax regime. Finance Minister’s move to merge and consolidate all the smaller insurance companies augurs well for the insurance industry. An overall economic growth and more people joining the formal economy will definitely give impetus to the growth of the life insurance sector”

Ashish Srivastava, MD & CEO, PNB MetLife:
The Union budget 2018 provides a strong focus on Healthcare to the masses. As far as insurance sector is concerned, increase of exemption limit for health insurance for Senior citizens is a welcome move.  Insurance products also continue to enjoy tax exemption. Consolidation of the PSU general insurers and the expected listing thereafter are all positive moves for the industry.

Karni S Arha, Chief Financial Officer, Aviva India 

The National Health Scheme of the government is a great initiative and will act as a catalyst in elevating the insurance sector and in turn the health care services for the uninsured and underinsured population. Also overall Health insurance deductions increasing to 50k and increase in exemption limit from Rs 10K to Rs 50K for Senior Citizens is a big positive move to promote health care and safety amongst the most deserving”, said Mr. Karni S Arha, Chief Financial Officer, Aviva India.