Regulation of Insurance Products

07/08/2020 1 By indiafreenotes

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), is a statutory body formed under an Act of Parliament, i.e., Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDAI Act 1999) for overall supervision and development of the Insurance sector in India.

The powers and functions of the Authority are laid down in the IRDAI Act, 1999 and Insurance Act, 1938. The key objectives of the IRDAI include promotion of competition so as to enhance customer satisfaction through increased consumer choice and fair premiums, while ensuring the financial security of the Insurance market.

The Insurance Act, 1938 is the principal Act governing the Insurance sector in India. It provides the powers to IRDAI to frame regulations which lay down the regulatory framework for supervision of the entities operating in the sector. Further, there are certain other Acts which govern specific lines of Insurance business and functions such as Marine Insurance Act, 1963 and Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991.

IRDAI adopted a Mission for itself which is as follows

  • To protect the interest of and secure fair treatment to policyholders;
  • To bring about speedy and orderly growth of the Insurance industry (including annuity and superannuation payments), for the benefit of the common man, and to provide long term funds for accelerating growth of the economy;
  • To set, promote, monitor and enforce high standards of integrity, financial soundness, fair dealing and competence of those it regulates;
  • To ensure speedy settlement of genuine claims, to prevent Insurance frauds and other malpractices and put in place effective grievance redressal machinery;
  • To promote fairness, transparency and orderly conduct in financial markets dealing with Insurance and build a reliable management information system to enforce high standards of financial soundness amongst market players;
  • To take action where such standards are inadequate or ineffectively enforced;
  • To bring about optimum amount of self-regulation in day-to-day working of the industry consistent with the requirements of prudential regulation.

Entities regulated by IRDAI

(i) Life Insurance Companies: Both public and private sector Companies

(ii) General Insurance Companies: Both public and private sector Companies. Among them, there are some standalone Health Insurance Companies which offer health Insurance policies.

(iii) Re-Insurance Companies

(iv) Agency Channel

  1. Intermediaries which include the following:
  • Corporate Agents
  • Brokers
  • Third Party Administrators
  • Surveyors and Loss Assessors.

Regulation making process

  • Section 26 (1) of IRDAI Act, 1999 and 114A of Insurance Act, 1938 vests power in the Authority to frame regulations, by notification.
  • Section 25 of IRDAI Act, 1999 lays down for establishment of Insurance Advisory Committee consisting of not more than twenty five members excluding the ex-officio members. The Chairperson and the members of the Authority shall be the ex-officio members of the Insurance Advisory Committee.
  • The objects of the Insurance Advisory Committee shall be to advise the Authority on matters relating to making of regulations under Section 26.
  • Accordingly the draft regulations are first placed in the meeting of Insurance Advisory Committee and after obtaining the comments/recommendations of IAC, the draft regulations are placed before the Authority for its approval.
  • Every Regulation approved by the Authority is notified in the Gazette of India.
  • Every Regulation so made is submitted to the Ministry for placing the same before the Parliament.

The Authority has issued regulations and circulars on various aspects of operations of the Insurance companies and other entities covering:

  • Protection of policyholders’ interest
  • Procedures for registration of insurers or licensing of intermediaries, agents, surveyors and Third Party Administrators;
  • Fit and proper assessment of the promoters and the management
  • Clearance /filing of products before being introduced in the market
  • Preparation of accounts and submission of accounts returns to the Authority.
  • Actuarial valuation of the liabilities of life Insurance business and forms for filing of the actuarial report;
  • Provisioning for liabilities in case of non-life Insurance companies
  • Manner of investment of funds and periodic reports on investments
  • Maintenance of solvency
  • Market conduct issues

Supervisory Role

The objective of supervision as stated in the preamble to the IRDAI Act is “to protect the interests of holders of Insurance policies, to regulate, promote and ensure orderly growth of the Insurance industry”, both Insurance and Reinsurance business. The powers and functions of the Authority are laid down in the IRDAI Act, 1999 and Insurance Act, 1938 to enable the Authority to achieve its objectives.

Section 25 of IRDAI Act 1999 provides for establishment of Insurance Advisory Committee which has Representatives from commerce, industry, transport, agriculture, consume for a, surveyors agents, intermediaries, organizations engaged in safety and loss prevention, research bodies and employees’ association in the Insurance sector are represented. All the rules, regulations, guidelines that are applicable to the industry are hosted on the website of the supervisor and are available in the public domain.

Section 14 of the IRDAI Act, 1999 specifies the Duties, Powers and functions of the Authority. These include the following:

  • To grant licenses to (re) Insurance companies and Insurance intermediaries
  • To protect interests of policyholders,
  • To regulate investment of funds by Insurance companies, professional organizations connected with the (re)Insurance business; maintenance of margin of solvency;
  • To call for information from, undertaking inspection of, conducting enquiries and investigations of the entities connected with the Insurance business;
  • To specify requisite qualifications, code of conduct and practical training for intermediary or Insurance intermediaries, agents and surveyors and loss assessors
  • To prescribe form and manner in which books of account shall be maintained and statement of accounts shall be rendered by insurers and other Insurance intermediaries.