Health insurance portability from 1st October

The scheme was proposed to come into force from 1st July earlier, but was deferred for three months due to certain outstanding issues with insurance companies

New Delhi: Health insurance portability service, which would allow policy holders to switch insurers, is all set to be implemented from 1st October, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) said on Thursday.

The scheme was proposed to come into force from 1st July earlier, but was deferred for three months due to certain outstanding issues with insurance companies, reports PTI.

“We are ready to implement the health portability plan from 1 October 2011,” IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan said here on the sidelines of a CII meet here.

Health portability will allow consumers to change their service provider without loosing the basic coverage of health insurance. As per portability rules, consumers will get credit for the time already spent for covering the pre-existing disease along with bonus accrued to him from his past insurer.

On the highest net asset value (NAV) guaranteed products, which are seen as a “risk products”, Mr Narayan said IRDA was planning to come up with regulations for it.

“The concern, which I have as regulator is the communication mechanism for highest NAV product that might lead to misconception of the buyer. Therefore, it is a risky product. We are getting details about the matter and we will take a regulatory decision soon,” he said without giving a timeline by when the rules would be out.

The highest NAV guaranteed products give consumers a guaranteed return based on the highest NAV that the policy has achieved during the entire term of the insurance plan.

At present, around 20% of the total Unit-Linked Pension Plans (ULIP) comprise sales from highest NAV products.

Referring to the IPO guidelines for life insurance companies, Mr Narayan said the guidelines are almost final.

“IPO guidelines are ready as far as IRDA is concerned. However, there are two more nuts that have to be tied up. First is the requirement of comments from Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which will come up in a day or two. Second is about a particular matrix for calculation of embedded value (of the company) that will be prescribed by Institute of Actuaries of India,” he added.

IRDA has already issued draft IPO guidelines.

According to industry body CII, India’s health insurance market is expected to touch Rs70,000 crore with a coverage of 500 million people by 2020.


OMCs hike petrol prices by Rs3.14 per litre

The fall in the rupee to a two-year low and crude prices ruling at $110-$111 per barrel have necessitated the price hike, a top official of a state-run retailer said

New Delhi: State-owned oil marketing companies (OMCs) today hiked petrol prices by Rs3.14 per litre as a fall in rupee increased the cost of importing the raw material (crude oil), reports PTI.

Petrol price in Delhi will be hiked by Rs 3.14 a litre to Rs66.84 per litre with effect from midnight tonight, a top official of a state-run fuel retailer said.

The current petrol price of Rs63.70 per litre corresponds to crude oil price of about $103 per barrel. But crude today is at $110-$111 per barrel. This difference coupled with rupee declining to two-year low of 48 to US dollar necessitated an increase in retail price, he said.

This is the second hike in four months. Oil companies had last hiked petrol price by Rs5 per litre on 15th May.

"We were losing Rs2.61 per litre or Rs15 crore per day on sale of petrol. After adding sales tax or VAT, the hike needed to level domestic rates with international prices came to Rs3.14 per litre in Delhi," another official said.

Petrol prices vary from city to city depending on VAT and other local levies.

Petrol price were freed from the government control in June last year but the retail rates have not moved in line with cost as high inflation rate forced the oil companies to seek 'advice' from parent oil ministry before revising rates.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) lost Rs2,450 crore this fiscal on selling petrol below the cost.

Besides petrol, the three firms are losing Rs263 crore per day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost. Diesel is being sold at a subsidy of Rs6.05 a litre, kerosene at Rs23.25 per litre while domestic LPG rates are under-priced by Rs267 per 14.2-kg cylinder.

The rupee fell to 48 per dollar yesterday for the first time since September 2009. "Every rupee depreciation, the under- recovery (revenue loss) increases annually by around Rs9,000 crore," the official said.


JP Morgan survey finds Indian Investment Confidence slumps to lowest in two years; market expectations high

The quarterly survey across eight cities finds fall in confidence caused by poor global outlook, high domestic interest rates and inflationary concerns. Still, investors expect Sensex to climb to over 20,000 by year end

The Indian Investment Confidence Index (ICI) is at its lowest in two years, due to the combined impact of the global economic slowdown, high domestic interest rates and inflationary concerns, according to a survey conducted by JP Morgan Asset Management across eight cities in July. However, a majority of investors and advisors in India expect the benchmark Sensex to trade between 20,000 and 22,000 by the end of this year.

Interestingly, the retail confidence index although 4.2 points down from the previous quarter, ranked the highest (137.5). The advisor confidence index was a distant second (124.9), whereas corporate confidence was at the lowest (109).

Christopher Spelman, whole-time director and chief executive officer of JP Morgan Asset Management says, "ICI for the current wave has been impacted by a significant fall in the outlook on the global economy, domestic interest rate hikes and inflationary concerns. Despite this negative news flow, the Indian financial fraternity maintains a positive outlook with a majority of investors and advisors expecting the benchmark index to trade between 20,000 and 22,000 by the end of this year. Another interesting finding is that young investors (age 22 to 25 years) appear highly enthusiastic about investing in mutual funds."

ICI, which was launched in August 2009, captures the confidence of retail and corporate investors, and financial advisors on the Indian economic and investment environment on a quarterly basis.

The numbers were calculated on the basis of responses received from 1,623 respondents (retail), 50 corporate treasuries, 269 independent financial advisers (IFAs), 20 banks and 20 national/regional distributors (N/RDs).

Banking and financial services emerged as the most attractive sector for investment among retail investors and advisors. Investors appear to have turned cautious as preserving capital emerged as a popular strategy among 40% of retail investors surveyed. Further, just 40% of investors were likely to turn "somewhat aggressive" about their investment strategy in the coming six months, as compared with 57% in the previous quarter.

In corporate treasuries investment activity showed noticeable decline across all instruments. Money market mutual funds remained the most popular debt instrument. It is interesting to note that 50% of corporate treasuries expect to maintain the current investment level in liquid funds ahead of the Reserve Bank of India's regulation on limiting banks' exposure in liquid funds to 10% (effective from January 2012).

The survey found that IFAs (independent financial advisors) in Mumbai are a despondent lot and their confidence is the lowest this quarter. Easy to understand when one finds that personal networking continues to be the most preferred source of information for investment decision making among retail investors.
Arun Jethmalani, managing director of ValueNotes, the independent market research agency of JP Morgan that conducted the survey, says, "Growing vulnerability of the global economy and uncertainty in the domestic investment environment have taken a toll on investment confidence, dragging the ICI down to its lowest ever. Interestingly, confidence within India Inc. appears to be shaken the most, amidst rising inflationary pressure, poor governance and corruption; even as the advisor community is a little more optimistic about financial investments."


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