Health insurers may get solvency leeway
Rebels ambush Tripura convoy

Calcutta, June 17: 
Solvency rules are likely to be relaxed for health insurers. A decision in this regard is expected to be taken at a three-day meeting of the 24-member insurance advisory committee that begins on Monday in New Delhi.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) � the watchdog for the insurance sector which will be thrown open to private players later this year after a gap of over four decades � has set tough solvency rules that require insurers to have a net worth of Rs 500 crore, a cash reserve ratio of 10 per cent, moderate levels of non-performing assets and three consecutive years of net profit.

�We will discuss the matter at the three-day deliberations. We will have to take a fresh look at the solvency norms for health insurance sector. We want to encourage growth in this sector,� said IRDA chairman N. Rangachary who was in the city to address a seminar on insurance organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

�Companies have to fulfil the tough norms we have set for entry into this business. But in respect of health, we have a facility to show some concessions. The section of the Insurance Act which deals with solvency provides the maximum limits and we have to decide the actual percentage,� Rangachary added.

The insurance advisory committee meeting is being held to give a final shape to the draft recommendations that will allow private players to break into the closed club of state-owned insurers. The final notification on the ground rules for the insurance sector is expected to be ready by mid-July.

�We will give final shape to the 14 recommendations which have already been announced. More recommendations will come up before the board at the three-day meeting,� the IRDA chairman said.

Health insurance penetration in India is distressingly low. Barely two million of the one billion people in India have some form of health cover. Mediclaim � the largest health policy cover offered by the General Insurance Corporation and its four subsidiaries � is actually a losing proposition with claim settlement amounts far exceeding the premium income.That will be the kind of dubious record that the new health insurers will be taking a hard look at in order to find ways to plug the rampant abuse of the system.

IRDA chairman said July 15 has been kept the last date for submitting applications by new companies for entering into all the areas of the insurance business. �By end October, we expect to issue the first licences to the new companies,� Rangachary added.

�We would like to encourage long-term players who are not driven by quick profit but by providing quality service to the customers. We would also like to see that the investments by these companies funnelled into infrastructure. Infrastructure projects are long-term projects. The government has to introduce long-term paper facilitating investments in infrastructure. The industry is starved of long-term investment avenues,� the IRDA chairman said.

Rangachary said there was a provision for granting exemptions to existing insurance companies to give them more time to comply with the accounting norm changes.

�At the moment, we have decided to give Life Insurance Corporation of India a year�s time to switch over to the new accounting norms,� he said..

P. K. Banerjee, special secretary (insurance), department of company affairs, said consumers are denied the choice of products in monopolistic situations. With the advent of new companies, there will be more products coming into the market and the customer would get better and comprehensive products at competitive prices.

�This will help the existing companies to take quick decisions and even delegate responsibilities to the operating level offices to create a quick delivery system for the customer,� he added.    

Agartala, June 17: 
Additional superintendent of police (South) Arindam Nath narrowly escaped an attempt on his life this morning as militants ambushed his vehicle. A constable was killed and four others seriously injured in the attack in remote Paharpur area under Amarpur subdivision of South Tripura.

Sources said at 7 am today, Nath left Amarpur for Jatanbari in a convoy of four vehicles. When the convoy reached Paharpur at 7.35 am, a group of suspected National Liberation Front of Tripura militants perched atop hills hurled a grenade at the convoy. Nath saw the grenade hurtling towards his vehicle and jumped out.

The grenade exploded on the rear of the Maruti Gypsy and seriously injured constables Surya Sarkar, Nayanjyoti Chakma, Sushil Das, Jibon Pal and Surya Debbarma. Constable Surya Debbarma succumbed to his injuries after he was brought to G.B. Hospital here in a critical condition. The condition of the four other injured policemen is serious.

Sources said after the grenade exploded, policemen from the other three vehicles put up a valiant fight and forced the militants to flee. Speaking over telephone from Amarpur, Nath said, �It was a providential escape for me.�

Nath was proceeding towards Jatanbari and leading an advance party for the visit of CRPF inspector-general George C. Podypara and newly-appointed director-general of police B.L. Vora. The officials later visited the Paharpur outpost and Jatanbari police station.

More abductions: In separate incidents, three persons were abducted and 10 houses set ablaze during the past 24 hours. Police sources said a group of NLFT militants stormed Ghagracherra village in Dhalai district yesterday afternoon and shot at and injured a 43-year-old non-tribal trader, Harishchandra Bhowmik. They also set 10 houses on fire.

Before escaping the militants abducted two non-tribal youth, Nishi Sarkar and Abhinayan Bhowmik.

Apart from this, Amulya Das, a bamboo trader, was abducted from the Taibandal area in Sonamura subdivision.

Four tribals were arrested from Hejamara village in Dhalai district yesterday in connection with the abduction of six bus passengers from the area on Thursday.

Truckers� strike off

The 20-day impasse over the Mariani Truck Drivers� Union strike has ended, with the truckers resuming service to the districts of Mokokchung, Tuensang and Zunheboto in Nagaland last night, reports our Jorhat correspondent.    


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