MUMBAI: With “profitable growth” replacing “expansion drive” as the buzzword in the sector, the country’s top private life insurers have significantly reduced branches and employees over the last couple of years to cut costs and improve efficiency.
ICICI Prudential, the second largest private life insurer in the country, has reduced its branches by nearly a half from 1,923 to 1,000 in the last two years. The top six private insurers, barring SBI Life, reduced nearly 30 per cent of branches, while the headcount was scaled down 27 per cent in the same period. Interestingly, the profits of all these players doubled over the last two years.
Insurance companies have different takes on the matter, terming it “right sizing” or “smart usage of realty” or “efficient utilisation of space” but the move to rationalise branch networks was a direct fall-out of the stringent regulations introduced by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) in September 2010. The Irda had raised the lock-in period and the insurance cover on the popular unit-linked products.
Top private life insurance players like Max New York Life, HDFC Life, Birla Sun Life, Aviva Life, Tata AIG Life and Bharti AXA Life all reduced their branch network between
18-250 in the last couple of years. However, in the same period, SBI Life, the second largest private life insurance player increased its branch network to around 714, from 494 as on March 31, 2010.