India's LIC June-quarter premium income jumps as policy sales rebound

A security guard walks past logos of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) inside the BSE building in Mumbai, India, May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni

BENGALURU, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) (LIFI.NS) reported a 20.4% rise in June-quarter premium income on Friday, as easing COVID-19 restrictions boosted sales of policies for the insurer that largely depends on its agents.

The company, which drives its business mostly through an army of 1.3 million sales agents, was hit by pandemic-led lockdowns last year that disrupted the work of its agents who focus on in-person engagement.

"As the COVID situation normalises, we are seeing a larger activity on the ground, therefore bringing us back closer to our model of having 'feet on street'," Chairperson M R Kumar said.

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LIC, India's biggest insurer, said net premium income rose to 983.52 billion rupees ($12.34 billion) from 817.21 billion rupees a year earlier, with nearly a 60% jump in the number of policies sold.

The company's gross value of new business (VNB), which measures expected profit from new premiums and is a key gauge for future growth, stood at 18.61 billion rupees, while VNB margins came in at 13.6%.

We don't see much market volatility going forward that could impact results, Kumar said in a press briefing, adding that the insurer sees VNB margin at over 15% by the end of the year.

The company, synonymous with buying protection policies in India, listed in May following a record $2.7 billion initial public offering. It commands a market share of over 60% in terms of overall premiums.

LIC's profit for the three months ended June 30 stood at 6.83 billion rupees, compared with 29.4 million rupees in the COVID-hit quarter a year ago, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Shares of LIC have fallen about 22% since its May listing, compared to a 23% rise in no. 2 rival SBI Life Insurance (SBIL.NS) over the same period.

($1 = 79.6830 Indian rupees)

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Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru and Nupur Anand in Mumbai; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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