TTK to enter retail health insurance biz

TTK to enter retail health insurance biz

Bangalore: TTK Group, a South India-based business conglomerate with a footprint across several segments, plans to start a dedicated health insurance company in a year’s time targeted at retail customers.

The diversified group is in talks with global insurance majors, such as Assurant Health and CIGNA Corp. of the US and BUPA of UK , for a possible joint venture (JV).

TTK, among India’s largest branded kitchen appliances maker, under the brand Prestige, and the world’s biggest manufacturers of condoms, said talks with the foreign players were in a preliminary stage for the proposed JV, which would focus on offering health insurance products for consumers, such as small retailers and businessmen. The initial corpus for the venture would be Rs100 crore.

“There is no retail focused health insurance player (now)," said T.T. Jagannathan, chairman and managing director of TTK Group. “All of them are focused on corporates. Our strength is retail,"

TTK also has business in footwear and pharmaceuticals. “Currently, they (insurance companies) don’t sell policies for individuals, you buy it," Jagannathan added.

Indian laws permit 26% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector.

Currently, STAR Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd, and a JV of Apollo Hospitals Group and DKV Deutsche Krankenversicherung AG, offer independent health insurance products.

They compete with players such as General Insurance Corp., the state-owned insurance company, and private insurance players such as TATA AIG General Insurance Co. Ltd and ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.

“Health insurance is a double-edged sword and has to be handled very carefully," said V. Jagannathan, chairperson and managing director of Chennai-based STAR Health.

The Indian health insurance market is estimated to be Rs3,000 crore, but has a potential to grow to Rs15,000 crore in the near-term, STAR Health claimed.

The proposed health insurance company of TTK will be independent of TTK Healthcare Services Pvt. Ltd.Swiss Re, among the world’s leading re-insurers owns 26% equity in TTK Healthcare, which it bought in December 2006.

Swiss Re also bought Prestige Healthcare Services Pvt Ltd, another TTK subsidiary.