United India Insurance to focus on retail segment for growth

Increased emphasis on retail segment along with focus on containing underwriting losses will be the key driver for profitable growth going ahead for the public sector general insurer United India Insurance, a top company official has said.

"Our focus is on retail segment to drive growth in the future. As part of the strategy, we have opened 410 micro offices in rural areas.

"We are increasing our agent strength and tying up with self-help groups to reach out to more people," United India Insurance Chairman and Managing Director Milind Kharat told PTI.

He also said the insurer, which tied up with Agriculture Insurance Company in the recent past to provide crop insurance, will also come up with new products in the health and motor segments in the near future.

United India, which had a total premium of around Rs 8,200 crore in the last fiscal, hopes to touch a gross written premium of Rs 10,000 crore by the end of the fiscal.

"We hope to attain a profit after tax of around Rs 700 crore in this financial year," Kharat said.

On corporate segment growth, he said this segment has been subdued due to lack of new projects.

"New projects are not coming up and current projects are facing delays due to various issues like coal and gas. So, growth is not much in this segment," Kharat said, adding the insurer hopes that the budget will improve the situation.

He further said growth in the marine segment is also subdued due to fall in trading activity.

Referring to underwriting loss incurred by the public sector insurer, Kharat said though it has come down, third-party motor insurance remains an area of concern.

"While underwriting losses have come down, third-party motor remains as an area of concern as we don't have any control on this segment. While accidents are more, premium is less, which is leading to more losses," Kharat said, adding the proposed New Motor Vehicle Insurance Act will help bridge loss.

Kharat also said the company aims to reduce the loss ratio and in this regard, raised premium in some loss-making segments.

On income from investments, he said the company hopes to get sound return. Interestingly, most of the general insurers earn profits through investment income as core operations are making losses.

As per the market participants, the public insurers expect to break even in their core operations in the next two years as losses narrow in the third-party motor segment.

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