ICICI Prudential Life’s strong growth story stays intact

The company clearly gained market share during the quarter, perhaps assisted by the government’s demonetization drive


Graphic: Subrata Jana/Mint
Graphic: Subrata Jana/Mint

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd seems to have got its game right in insurance. The private sector insurer’s net profit grew 3.3% to Rs450 crore for the quarter ended December as its new business premium grew at an impressive 47% to Rs1,780 crore.

The company clearly gained market share during the quarter, perhaps assisted by the government’s demonetization drive. According to its presentation to investors, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. has a market share of 13% in the April-December period on the basis of retail weighted received premium.

The annualized premium equivalent rose 27.6% to Rs4,458 crore for the nine-month period ended December.

But mere strength in new business may not be enough as insurance is a long-term bet. Here too, the private sector insurer scores as it is evident that customers do stick with the company. Its persistency ratios for 13th month rose to 81.4% from 76.8% a year ago. Those for the 25th and the 37th month, too, rose from a year ago.

The value of new business margin increased to 9.4% for April-December from 8% in the corresponding period in fiscal year 2016.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. seems to have gotten its expenses to behave as well. The cost of total weighted received premium was 15.9% for the nine months ended December, a marginal slip from 16% for the same period in FY16. Its expense ratio excluding commission was down to 12.2% from 12.5% a year ago.

The private sector insurer sells its policies by using its parent ICICI Bank Ltd’s network of branches, besides using agents.

But the fact that ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co.’s shares have gained more than 20% since 1 November shows that investors had expected a stellar set of numbers. The stock beat the benchmark Sensex in returns for the period. But given that the third quarter had the unexpected event of demonetization, the results have been quite decent.

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