Changes as per Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015

Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 amend the Insurance Act, 1938 and the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. It provides for raising FDI cap in insurance sector from 26% to 49%.

1- The foreign equity cap in insurance sector is increased to 49 per cent as against the current 26 percent.

2- Foreign reinsurers will be permitted to open branches only for reinsurance business in India and the provisions of Section 27E, which prohibits an insurer to invest directly or indirectly outside India the funds of policyholder, would apply to such branches. The definition of “Foreign Company” for the purpose of insurance and reinsurance would mean: a company or body established under a law of any country outside India and includes Lloyd’s established under the Lloyd’s Act, 1871 (United Kingdom).

3- The capital requirement for a health insurance company is now reduced to Rs.50 crores.

4- The definition of ‘health insurance business’ has been revised to clearly stipulate that health insurance policies would cover sickness benefits on account of domestic as well as international travel.

5- Insurance companies will not be allowed to repudiate claims after three policy years. The Bill has amended Section 45 to state that no policy can be repudiated for any reason after three years of commencement of risk/date of reinstatement/date of issuance.

6- The PSU General Insurance Companies and GIC will be permitted to raise capital from the market to meet future capital requirements, provided that the Government’s shareholding would not be allowed to come below 51 per cent at any point of time.

7- The appointment of agents is to be done by insurance companies subject to the agents meeting the qualifications, passing of examinations etc. as specified by IRDA.

8- The insurers will be held responsible for mis-selling by agents.

9- Reinsurance: The IRDA currently does not regulate reinsurers. The new policy does not specify capital requirement for these companies to open branches in the country; the only prescription is that parent reinsurance companies should have net worth of Rs 5,000 crore.

After the amendment, the IRDA will formulate norms to regulate companies that open branches in the country. India already allows up to 26% foreign investment in reinsurance companies.