Resta Jha, CEO of Prime Life Insurance spoke to the Nepali Times this week about how the rural areas are driving growth in the insurance sector. Excerpts:
Resta Jha: There has been a 20 per cent compounded growth over the last three years in life insurance segment and it seems this growth rate will continue for another three years. The major growth engine has been rural Nepal as a result of progressive cash flows from remittance, agriculture and tourism in this segment. Better awareness due to structured campaigns like 'Sunya Wa Teen' have also helped boost the premium collection. The total life fund of the industry today is more than Rs 20 billion.
Are there any Nepal-specific regulatory or environmental issues that are impending or fuelling growth ?
The government's mandatory policy for Nepali migrant workers has definitely helped growth. On the other hand, a very low tax exemption limit of Rs 20,000 is hindering the growth. Overall, I find the current regulatory environment to be business-friendly.
There are over nine companies with life insurance licenses in Nepal, where does your company, PrimeLife Insurance stand?
PrimeLife has 18 per cent and 21 per cent market shares in first life premium and total first premium respectively. We have been able to achieve these phenomenal numbers because we competed with the low-penetrated market condition, rather than competing with the competitors. In a country with 23 per cent population having insurable interest and only 5 per cent having bought life insurance policies, there is enough head-room for everyone. We just need a better structured approach of doing business.
Which regions in Nepal have superior awareness of the benefits of life insurance?
Surprisingly, it's the rural sector taking the lead in terms of life insurance business in Nepal. Urban people might be more aware, but approximately 75 per cent of life insurance business comes from the rural areas. This is owing to the 'push factor' of the business. And eastern Nepal is ahead in terms of business.