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Jumpstarting India’s insurance industry through a customer-centric strategy


By focusing on improved customer outcomes, India’s insurers can provide new and advanced life-enhancing insurance products and services.

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India’s insurance industry is at a turning point. Once sheltered by regulation and protected from global competition, insurance in India is poised to catch up to—and perhaps even exceed— innovations occurring elsewhere in the world.

There was not always such enormous potential for innovation and growth for insurers in India. Until the late 1990s, consecutive governments maintained tight control over the country’s insurance industry, which was largely nationalized. Competition and innovation were effectively squashed. This led to low levels of understanding of insurance products in the mass market and much lower rates of insurance penetration compared to other countries.¹

Since initial deregulation in 1999, however, the industry has experienced a new spurt of market growth both in life and other lines. Yet as a result of its highly regulated history, the insurance industry has not grown on par with the country’s economy. In 2017, India was ranked as the world’s seventh largest economy, up from twelfth largest in 2007 and fifteenth in 1997.²

But there is reason to believe that India’s insurance industry is at a tipping point. The combination of relatively solid macroeconomic foundations, rapid technology adoption, expanded government programs aimed at financially underserved populations, and the possibility of renewed efforts to expand privatization creates an environment that could spark unprecedented levels of industry growth.

This report explores the enormous potential for growth in the Indian insurance market—if it can overcome its constraints and bureaucratic legacies. For inspiration, insurers can look beyond India’s borders and learn from global best-in-breed examples. At the same time, they need to be responsive to new technologies that drive business model innovation for better customer experiences and increased customer trust.

¹ “History of insurance in India.” Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). July 12, 2007. https://www.irdai.gov.in/ADMINCMS/cms/NormalData_Layout.aspx?page=PageNo4&mid=2

² “National accounts – Analysis of main aggregates.” United Nations Statistics Division website, accessed January 2019. https://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/Index


How can IBM help you?

IBM Insurance solutions: Maturing markets, tight capital, increasing risk and technologically sophisticated customers are just some of the pressures the insurance industry faces today. As a result, insurers have to be more nimble, innovative and connected with their customers. IBM offers solutions to help them meet those demands. From stand-alone solutions to the IBM Insurance Platform, there’s a smarter solution for you.

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Meet the Authors:

Christian Bieck

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, Global Insurance Leader, IBM Institute for Business Value,
Anthony Marshall

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, Research Director, IBM Institute for Business Value,
Meera Srinivasan

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, Executive Director and Partner, BFSI, IBM Global Business Services, India South Asia

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