Single-premium plan likely to be only for women initially; Centre, states to share premium for economically weaker sections.
Customers may soon get health, insurance and pension covers, as well as a scholarship for their daughter’s school education under one policy.
The single-premium policy, which the finance ministry is considering, is likely to be available only for women in the first phase. The premium will be shared by the Centre and the state governments concerned in the case of economically weaker sections.
The finance ministry wants to extend the scheme to all, with men in the economically weaker sections also getting support in the form of part payment of the premium. “At present, we do not have resources to support a large population. So, we plan to launch it for women first and gradually extend it to men. We are working out how much premium an individual can pay and how much should be shared by the government,” said a finance ministry official.
To reduce the burden on the Centre, states will be asked to come on board. The scheme will be launched only in states where the government is willing to contribute.
Education of girls from Classes IX to XII is likely to be supported by the government under the scheme. For instance, a girl child can be provided a scholarship of about Rs 1,500 a year for four years. However, this support will be restricted only to the poor. In order to ensure financial security for people in old age, the scheme may also have the provision of putting some part of the insurance corpus in pension plans every year.
The ministry is in discussion with life and general insurance companies to draw the contours. The government is planning to sell the scheme through aggregators, microfinance institutions, self-help groups and through banks. The premium will be divided among the companies offering the product.
To encourage people from the unorganised sector to voluntarily save for retirement, the government had launched a co-contributory pension scheme called Swavalamban in 2010-11. The government contributes Rs 1,000 in each New Pension Scheme account opened with a minimum contribution of Rs 1,000 and maximum contribution of Rs 12,000 a year. Three years after NPS was opened for non-government employees, only about 45,000 subscribers from the unorganised sector have signed up. The total number of subscribers is 2.3 million.
The penetration of insurance, especially health, has remained poor in India. The annual average growth of life insurance industry in terms of insurance premium was 17.18 per cent for 2007-08 to 2010-11. The annual average growth of general insurance industry in terms of gross direct premium was 15.92 per cent for 2007-08 to 2010-11.
Despite that, life and non-life insurance penetration (percentage of insurance premium to gross domestic product) was only 4.73 per cent and 0.66 per cent, respectively, in 2009. The overall penetration (life and non-life insurance) increased from 2.71 per cent in 2001 to 5.2 per cent in 2009.