Insurance and risk management make up an immense global industry. According to a survey conducted by a leading global insurance firm, Swiss Re, worldwide insurance premiums totaled $4.61 trillion in 2012 (the latest data available), up from $4.59 trillion in 2011. This was equal to about 6.5% of global GDP. Global life insurance premiums were $2.62 trillion during 2012, while all other types of insurance totaled $1.99 trillion.

In America alone, the insurance business employed about 2.4 million people in 2013. Gross life insurance premiums in the U.S. totaled $755.5 billion during 2012, per the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), while property and casualty premiums totaled $515.1 billion (up substantially from $445.0 billion the previous year.) A large number of companies underwrite insurance in America, but the industry is dominated by a handful of major players.

Health insurance premiums paid in the U.S. during 2012 totaled $546.7 billion (up from $516.5 billion the previous year and only $411.1 billion in 2007), according to the NAIC.

In emerging nations, where the fastest growth is to be found, total insurance premiums in 2012 were about $723 billion, up 6.8% over the previous year. These figures are from Swiss Re ( would be hard to overstate the importance of emerging nations, especially China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, to the future growth of the insurance industry. Total premiums in South and East Asia (including China) were only $369 billion in 2012.

The future of the Indian insurance sector looks bright. The sector which stood at a strong US$ 72 billion in 2012 has the potential to grow to US$ 280 billion by 2020. This growth is driven by India’s favourable regulatory environment which guarantees stability and fair play. This environment has given rise to an insurance market which encourages foreign investors to tap into the sector’s massive potential.

Health insurance is an up-and-coming segment in this sector. Currently, it caters for 10 per cent of the overall US$ 30 billion healthcare expenditure in India. Consequently, there is plenty of scope for players in this area.


The life insurance segment contributes about 4 per cent to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in terms of total premiums underwritten annually. There are 23 private companies in the segment. The state-owned Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) dominates the field, with about 71 per cent of the market share, according to Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).