For the first time this fiscal monthly new business or the first-year premium of life insurers turned positive in July, with an almost 7% increase as India accelerated the reopening of the pandemic-hit economy.

Collectively, the first-year premium of the 24 insurers stood at ₹22,986.10 crore, 6.87% more than the ₹21,509.25 crore they reported in July 2019, as per the latest data released by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). Last month’s growth ended a period of decline that began in March as COVID-19 took hold and the country resorted to a stringent nationwide lockdown to contain the virus’s spread.

New business in March, one of the busiest months for insurers in other times, plunged 32% year-on-year.

In April, at the peak of the lockdown, the decline was almost 33%. May and June saw the declines ease to 25% and 10.5%, respectively. For the quarter ended June, the total first-year premium was 18.6% lower.

Industry officials have been hinting at a rebound as the economy reopens. As the pandemic rages, health insurance seems to have become a priority for customers though some life insurers said protection plans were also in demand.

Private insurers gain

In July, private sector insurers collectively did better clocking a 26% increase in first year premium to ₹7,815.14 crore (₹6,197.37 crore). However, while 11 private insurers reported an increase, the remaining 12 posted declines.

Interestingly, the only public sector competitor, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), reported a 0.92% decline at ₹15,170.95 crore (₹15,311.87 crore).

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