Indian insurance market structure

indeAs of 31 March 2019, the Indian insurance market had 70 operators, divided into:

  • 27 non-life insurance companies,
  • 24 life insurance companies,
  • 7 Stand-Alone Health Insurers (SAHI), insurance companies specialized in health business,
  • a national reinsurer (GIC Re),
  • 11 foreign reinsurance subsidiaries.

LIC of India (LIC), the only state-owned life insurance company, accounts for 65% of life premiums and almost 50% of all market premiums all classes combined.

Indian insurance market structure: 31/3/2015 - 31/3/2019 period

Market players31/03/201931/03/2015
Public sectorPrivate sectorTotalPublic sectorPrivate sectorTotal
Life insurance companies
Non-life insurance companies
Reinsurance companies*
Stand-Alone Health Insurers (SAHI)**

* Including the branches of foreign reinsurers
** Companies specialising in health insurance

Insurance distribution in India

India has an extensive distribution network made up of direct sales offices and a large number of intermediaries.

Direct distribution offices

Life network

The direct distribution of products is carried out through the offices of 24 life insurance companies. The public insurer LIC alone owns 43% of the life network with 4 932 offices out of a total of 11 279 spread over the Indian territory.

Distribution of direct life offices by type of insurance company

Life companies20152016201720182019
Private companies
6 1566 1796 0576 2046 347
Life Insurance company (LIC)
4 8774 8924 8974 9084 932
Total life
11 03311 07110 95411 11211 279

The majority of life offices, that is 38.4% of the total, are located in semi-urban areas. Urban areas have 35.1% of outlets. All major metropolitan cities have 24.5% direct offices. The remaining 2% is located in rural areas.

Non-life network

Between 2018 and 2019, 270 new non-life direct offices appeared on the market. Public insurance companies own 76% of this network with 8 150 offices out of a total of 10 695. Metropolitan, urban and semi-urban areas account for 87.5% of the non-life network.

Breakdown of non-life direct network per type of company

Non life companies20152016201720182019
Public companies
8 1208 3318 5188 2968 150
Private companies
1 7421 8691 9462 0432 459
Specialized companies
Stand-Alone Health Insurers (SAHI)**
Total non life
10 40710 80310 54710 42510 695

*As at 31 March of each year.
** As from 2017, the SAHI network is no longer accounted with the one of non-life companies.

Direct network of Stand-Alone Health Insurers (SAHI)

The Stand-Alone Health Insurers (SAHI), that is to say the insurance companies specializing in the health class of business, have 883 direct offices by 31 March 2019 against 775 by 31 March 2018. Half of these offices are located in metropolitan regions against 40% in urban areas and 10% in semi-urban areas. There are no SAHI offices in rural areas.

Number of direct Stand-Alone Health Insurers (SAHI) offices

Aditya Birla
Apollo Munich
Cigna TTK
Max Bupa
Reliance Health
Star Health

Insurance agents

The network of insurance agents operates under the supervision of IRDAI (market control authority). It includes:

  • agents practicing on an individual basis,
  • agents operating as a legal entity (Corporate Agents).

The total number of insurance agents (individual and corporate agents) operating on the market amounted to 2 716 003 as of 31 March 2019 against 2 489 117 a year earlier, up 9% compared to the same period of 2018.

Agents practicing individually

They operate in life insurance where their number is very high. As of 31 March 2019, IRDAI listed 2 194 747 individual agents having a license to distribute life products.

Breakdown of individual agent per type of company

Private sector workers
933 8561 015 518
1 148 8111 179 229
Total individual agents of life companies
2 082 6672 194 747

Breakdown of individual agent per gender
579 22027.8%603 20827.4%
1 503 44772.2%1 591 53972.6%
2 082 667100%2 194 747100%

Corporate Agents

Also acting under the control of IRDAI, Corporate Agents can take several legal forms: banking companies, non-banking financial companies, cooperative companies, limited companies, limited liability companies.

Corporate Agents operate in life and non-life insurance. Their number amounted to 606 as of 31 March 2019, an increase of 15% over one year.

Corporate Agents526606

Global structure of insurance agents network in India

Life insurance individual agents
2 082 6672 194 747
SAHI individual agents
405 924520 650
Corporate Agents
Grand total
2 489 1172 716 003

Insurance Marketing Firm (IMF)

This is a new insurance distribution channel introduced in 2015. This network, strictly regulated by IRDAI, distributes life, non-life and health products. IMFs operate on the principle of "open architecture". They are allowed to market insurance products from up to two life companies, two non-life companies and two mutuals. They operate as one-stop shops, also distributing financial products from other institutions such as the Post Office, pension funds (Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority PFRDA), etc.

By the end of March 2019, India had 272 IMFs against 212 a year earlier, that is an increase of 28% in one year.

Web Aggregator

The regulatory authority also authorizes "Web Aggregators" to distribute insurance products. These are web interfaces (comparators) for comparing and distributing insurance policies online. This new distribution channel increases the penetration rate of insurance via digital means. The activity is regulated and supervised by IRDAI. The number of Web Aggregator approved as of 31 March 2009 is 27.


Brokers have been authorized to operate on the Indian market since 2003. Their number stood at 437 at the end of March 2019. Among them, 371 are specialized in a direct insurance (life or non-life), 61 have the status of composite brokers, empowered to underwrite life and non-life risks. Only 5 brokers are specialized in reinsurance.

Other networks

Other insurance distribution networks also exist in the Indian market. These are in particular:

  • TPA Health Services: There are 25 third-party paying companies operating on the health market.
  • Insurance Repositories: Sales network of insurance policies offering the underwriter the possibility of modifying his contract. Created in 2013, this distribution tool is the first of its kind in the world. The market has four Insurance Repositories approved by the authorities.
  • Insurance Self Network Platform (ISNP): Created in 2017 by IRDAI, ISNP is a web portal that allows insurance companies and intermediaries to market insurance products online.
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