Private life insurers' APE grows 19% in March, LIC lags

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 22, 2019 16:49 hrs

New Delhi: In March 2019, private sector life insurance companies reported a 19 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in individual annual premium equivalent (APE), which has been gradually picking pace since November 2018, according to a Kotak Institutional Equities report.

APE is a measure used for comparison of life insurance revenue by normalising policy premiums into the equivalent of regular annual payments.

The report said that individual APE growth for private life insurance players has picked up from (-)1 per cent to 16 per cent over the last six months.

Almost all large players reported over 15 per cent growth, except HDFC Life, the report said.

Overall industry growth was lower at 10 per cent y-o-y as state-run Life Insurance Corp (LIC) remained sluggish with 6 per cent growth, the report said.

HDFC Life reported muted 1 per cent y-o-y increase in individual APE in March after witnessing marginal growth of 2 per cent in January and 6 per cent decline in February 2019. Overall APE was better at 6 per cent, as its group protection remained a segment of focus. Its business has been a bit volatile this year with (-)20 per cent to 37 per cent growth during the last ten month.

ICICI Prudential Life saw growth of 14 per cent y-o-y in March in individual APE, up from 8-9 per cent over the last two months. Average ticket size in individual non-single segment was up 7 per cent y-o-y.

SBI Life's individual APE growth was strong at 29 per cent y-o-y in March, especially in the backdrop of a flat January, and 15 per cent average growth for 2018-2019. Growth picked pace in the last two months.

Max Life's growth in individual APE was strong at 15 per cent y-o-y, though lower than the 35 per cent growth in January 2019. The company has increased focus on ULIPs in recent quarters.

Birla SL reported 33 per cent y-o-y growth in individual APE, albeit lower than the high growth momentum of 67 per cent in the first 11 months of 2018-2019.

Net mutual fund equity inflows revived in March 2019, the report said. After declining for four consecutive months till February 2019, momentum in equity mutual funds picked up in March 2019 likely due to positive market sentiment.

The industry reported net equity inflows of Rs 9,500 crore in March, as compared to Rs 4,400 crore in February, Rs 5,500 crore in January.

The gross flows of Rs 29,700 crore in March were the highest in 2018-2019.

However, large redemptions of Rs 20,200 crore led to tapered net equity inflows. This is the highest inflow since the recent corrections in equity markets.

However, the gross Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) were stable for the past six months at Rs 8000-8100 crore. The share of single premium for private players increased to 41 per cent as compared to 37 per cent in February 2019.

Among major private players, Bajaj Allianz Life, HDFC Life and SBI Life maintain high share of single premium at 66 per cent, 68 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, with the mix of single premium inching up for these players in March 2019.

Bajaj Life and HDFC Life gained s ignificant market share in March 2019 whereas SBI Life lost 60 bps share.