The journey of insurance liberalization process in India is now over seven years old. The first major milestone in this journey has been the passing of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. This along with amendments to the Insurance Act 1983, LIC and GIC Acts paves the way for the entry of private players and possibly the privatization of the hitherto public monopolies LIC and GIC. Opening up of insurance to private sector including foreign participation has resulted into various opportunities and challenges.
Concept of Insurance
In our daily life, whenever there is uncertainly there is an involvement of risk. The instinct of security against such risk is one of the basic motivating forces for determining human attitudes. As a sequel to this quest for security, the concept of insurance must have been born. The urge to provide insurance or protection against the loss of life and property must have promoted people to make some sort of sacrifice willingly in order to achieve security through collective co-operation. In this sense, the story of insurance is probably as old as the story of mankind.
Life insurance in particular provides protection to household against the risk of premature death of its income earning member. Life insurance in modern times also provides protection against other life related risks such as that of longevity (i.e. risk of outliving of source of income) and risk of disabled and sickness (health insurance). The products provide for longevity are pensions and annuities (insurance against old age). Non-life insurance provides protection against accidents, property damage, theft and other liabilities. Non-life insurance contracts are typically shorter in duration as compared to life insurance contracts. The bundling together of risk coverage and saving is peculiar of life insurance. Life insurance provides both protection and investment.
Insurance is a boon to business concerns. Insurance provides short range and long range relief. The short-term relief is aimed at protecting the insured from loss of property and life by distributing the loss amongst large number of persons through the medium of professional risk bearers such as insurers. It enables a businessman to face an unforeseen loss and, therefore, he need not worry about the possible loss. The long-range object being the economic and industrial growth of the country by making an investment of huge funds available with insurers in the organized industry and commerce.