Micro insurance is specifically intended for the protection of low -income people, with affordable insurance products to help them cope with and recover from financial losses. The need of insurance for underprivileged section cannot be avoided as this section of society is more prone to many risks which ultimately leads to incapacity to face such uncertain situations. Hence, the role that micro insurance plays thus becomes inevitable.
India has been seen to be a very exciting market and a pioneer in setting out the regulatory framework for Micro Insurance in the world. Microinsurance promises to support sustainable livelihoods of the poor. Liberalization of the insurance sector and Government Schemes has created new opportunities for Microinsurance to reach the vast majority of the poor, including those working in the informal sector. Even so, market penetration in Microinsurance is seen to be low in India. The market, so far, is seen to be largely supply driven. Among others, the product design, ease of underwriting, distribution, awareness creation, easy premium payment system, simple claims processing and understanding & use of new age technology would be key for success of the Microinsurance market.
Distribution is the most critical link in the insurance value chain, especially for micro insurance where the customer is semi-literate or even illiterate, has limited financial resources and is largely inaccessible. Distribution becomes even more crucial in case of voluntary micro insurance since it also involves a ‘hard-selling’ element. On the other hand, due to the low insurance penetration among the low-income segment, there also lies a huge opportunity both in terms of business as well extending financial protection to those who need it the most.
Various efforts have been made in the past to address the distribution challenge in micro insurance. The concept of ‘micro insurance agent’ introduced in 2005 was aimed at attracting more intermediaries to this space and leverage upon the connect enjoyed by grassroots organizations like cooperatives and SHGs with a large section of the low-income segment. Although this initiative succeeded in enrolling large numbers of micro insurance intermediaries, the volumes continue to remain modest – both in terms of premium collections as well as lives covered.
The major challenges in microinsurance distribution are: -
- Small ticket size coupled with high transaction and service delivery costs.
- Absence of a business model that can attract good intermediaries.
- Capacity building of intermediaries.
- Lack of basic awareness and knowledge on how insurance works
For further clarity please refer FAQs placed below.
Micro Insurance Regulations
1. What are the governing provisions for Micro Insurance?
A. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Micro Insurance) Regulations, 2015 (Hereinafter referred to as “Regulations”).
2. What is a Micro Insurance Policy?
A. As per the Regulations, micro insurance policy is an insurance policy sold under a plan which has been specifically approved by the Authority as a micro-insurance product.
3. What is a Micro Insurance Product?
A. As per the Regulations, Micro Insurance Product includes a general micro-insurance product or life insurance product or health insurance product, proposal form and all marketing materials in respect thereof;
4. Who is a Micro Insurance Agent?
A. As per the Regulations, Micro Insurance Agent means the following entities or individuals who are appointed as Micro Insurance Agents in accordance to the regulations
- a Non-Government Organisation (NGO);
- a Self-Help Group (SHG);
- a Micro-Finance Institution (MFI)
- RBI regulated NBFC – MFIs
- District Cooperative Banks licensed by Reserve Bank of India subject to being eligible as per extant norms of Reserve Bank of India
- Regional Rural Banks established under Section (3) of Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976 subject to being eligible as per extant norms of Reserve Bank of India
- Urban Co-operative banks licensed by Reserve Bank of India subject to being eligible as per extant norms of Reserve Bank of India
- Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies
- Other Cooperative Societies registered under any of the Cooperative Societies Acts
- Business correspondents appointed in accordance to the extant RBI Guidelines with any of the Scheduled Commercial Banks
5. How appointment of Micro Insurance Agent is done?
A. A micro-insurance agent shall be appointed by an insurer by entering into a deed of agreement, which shall clearly specify the terms and conditions of such appointment, including the duties and responsibilities of both the micro-insurance agent and the insurer
6. With how many Insurers the Micro Insurance Agent can work?
A. A micro insurance agent may work with One Life Insurance Company, one General Insurance Company, one Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd and with any one of the health insurance companies registered with the Authority.
7. Is there any training required for Micro Insurance Agent?
A. Yes, at least twenty-five hours of training by the Insurers in the languages recognized by the Constitution of India to all micro-insurance agents and their specified persons in the areas of insurance selling, policyholder servicing and claims administration.
PROVIDED those micro insurance agents who are appointed to distribute General Insurance policies to MSME Sector in accordance to the Regulations shall undergo additional 25 hours of the training at the expenses of the insurer.
Refresher training, not less than half of the prescribed number of hours of training, shall be imparted as on the expiry of every spell of three years from the date of entering into the agreement.
8. What is the total remuneration/commission payable to Micro Insurance Agent?
A. As per the Regulations, the remuneration including commission shall not exceed the limits as stated below:
- For Life Insurance Business:
- Single Premium policies - Ten per cent of the single premium
- Non-single premium policies - Twenty per cent of the premium for all the years of the premium paying term
- For General Insurance Business: Fifteen per cent of the premium.
- For group insurance products, the insurer may decide the commission subject to the overall limits prescribed in the Regulations.
9. Whether Micro Insurance Policies are reckoned for the purpose of rural and social sector obligations of Insurers?
A. Yes, as per the Regulations,
All micro-insurance policies may be reckoned for the purposes of fulfilment of social obligations. AND
Where a micro-insurance policy is issued in a rural area and falls under the definition of social sector, such policy may be reckoned for both under rural and social obligations separately.
10. Whether there is any tie-up between Life Insurer and General Insurer in offering Micro Insurance Product?
A. Yes, the Regulations allow tie-up between Life Insurers and General Insurers in offering Micro Insurance Products as per the procedure laid down in the Regulations.
11. Whether all Micro Insurance Agents can appoint Specified Persons?
A. Other than individual Micro Insurance Agents, all other Micro Insurance Agents are allowed to appoint Specified Persons with the prior approval of the insurer for the purpose of discharging all or any of the functions stated in sub-regulation (3) of Regulation 5 of the Regulations.
12. What is the minimum group size in Micro Insurance Schemes?
A. As per the Regulations, the minimum group size is 5.
13. What is the maximum sum assured in life micro insurance product?
A. As per the Regulations, the sum assured under an Insurance product offering Life or pension or Health benefits shall not exceed an amount of Rs 200000.
14. What is the maximum amount of cover in general and health insurance?
A. As per the Regulations, the following are the limits:
15. What is the ceiling of annual premium in a Micro Variable Insurance Product?
A. As per the Regulations, the Annual Premium shall not exceed Rs 6000 p.a. in a Micro Variable Insurance product under Non Linked Non-Par platform.
16. Any specific norms for Life Micro Insurance Products prescribed in the Regulations?
A. Yes, prescribed under Schedule III attached to the Regulations.
17. Is Micro Insurance Product allowed to be offered to sell under Linked Insurance Platform?
A. No. Insurers shall not offer micro insurance products under unit linked platform.