Fillip to pure-play health insurance outfits

Special Correspondent

Star Health and Allied main beneficiary of IRDA norms for agents

Star Health employees around 800 peopleLands Andhra Pradesh Govt. order

CHENNAI: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has decided to allow any agent of a life or non-life insurance company to become an agent of a stand-alone health insurance firm as well.

This significant relaxation in rules relating to insurance agent is expected to provide a big fillip to pure play health insurance outfits.

Currently, there is only a lone stand-alone health insurance company in India. Star Health Allied Insurance Company Ltd. went on stream on May 18 this year. Following the easing of norms, the IRDA has said that an agent of a life or non-life insurance firm can also be an agent for Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Ltd. Though IRDA has relaxed this rule for only two years, industry watchers expect the regulatory institution to take a pragmatic view even after the expiry of the two-year period.

V. Jagannathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Star Health, said that the move would bring about a level field for pure-play health insurance companies. Such a relaxation in rules relating to agent was essential since health insurance firms did not have enough products (at least in the early stages) to entice an agent to get wedded exclusively to them. Further, the IRDA-ordained restrictions on the expenses did not allow them any luxury of having its own expensive marketing network.

Mr. Jagannathan said Star Health had spread its wings since it launched its operations in May last. It had now 84 offices across the country and employed around 800 people. Till date, it had written business worth Rs. 14 crore.

He expected the company to write another Rs. 40 crore business in the current financial year. Currently, it had three products.

It had 17 doctors on its roll and another 47 on referral basis.

Mr. Jagannathan said Star Health had landed the Andhra Pradesh Government order to provide health cover for over one crore people below the poverty line for Rs. 10 crore.

He indicated that Star Health would also bid for another project of Andhra Pradesh to provide health cover for BPL families vis-à-vis six diseases.