Indian women have little or no life insurance
It has been revealed that Indian women are less likely to be covered by life insurance protection.
A study conducted by an insurance firm showed that women constitute 20-30% of total lives covered by the country’s life insurers.
There is one main school of thought as to why so many women are uninsured, and this is because they simply are unaware of the risks.
S.B. Mathur secretary general of Life Insurance Council (LIC) said: "Indian society doesn't recognise the value of a woman. Importance is not given to a woman unless she is earning and therefore, when the question comes up for insurance, it is very difficult to get women insured."
Mathur added: "In group insurance schemes, however, the coverage of women is higher because the government pays the premium and they automatically get covered."
A survey displayed that despite there being 933 women per 1,000 males in India, women only made up a lower percentage in the life insurance market of Rs 2.2 trillion, or 4.4% of gross domestic product at the end of March.
It was revealed that private insurance cover was at an all time low too: "Around 24% of our customers are women. Women do not come out so often, resulting in low penetration," said Gaurang Shah, managing director of a life cover firm.
A senior official at LIC said: "In LIC, around 28% of total lives covered are women. The figures have risen recently after women in metro cities started working, otherwise around five years back, the percentage was as low as 18-19%. Insurance penetration among women is not sufficient in India."
However, many insurers believe that it is down to equality issues, as to why many females still lack insurance cover.
Rajiv Jamkhedkar, chief executive of Aegon Religare Life Insurance Co. Ltd, stated: "Insurance coverage of women is relatively on the lower side because financial matters are still decided by male members of the family. Currently, around 18% of total lives insured with us are women."
As a result of the weak numbers, LIC has introduced a new , specifically designed for women, to encourage sales.
However, such cover is proving to be unpopular, as LIC managing director Thomas Mathew pointed out: "LIC also offers Jeevan Bharati, a policy designed for women, but there are few takers."
The response to Jeevan Bharati is not quite encouraging," said another LIC official. "We have sold around 1 lakh policies so far." LIC now manages around 23 crore policies.
Jeevan Bharati is an insurance policy exclusively for women, and has a mixture of endowment and mediclaim policies. Certain women-specific issues such as some critical illnesses are covered only under this policy.
Thomas Matthew said: "Women do not take only women-specific policies, they take other policies, too. We have 17 lakh self-help groups covering women. We are also planning to launch several women-specific policies in future."