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State Life: The outlier in Pakistan’s insurance industry – Business

  • May 6, 2023

How many people around you have ever willingly bought an insurance policy? It can’t be a lot, at least if you exclude the Sehat card that the citizens of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab are entitled to. That’s because Pakistan has one of the worst insurance penetration rates among regional or economic peers — at just 0.91 per cent (life and general insurance combined).

It’s sort of ironic because the country has no shortage of events for which one needs insurance against — reckless drivers on the road that risk your life, contaminations that harm your health, or workplaces that offer no pensions. You would imagine more people wanting to protect themselves from such uncertainty, right?

There are multiple reasons why insurance as an industry has failed to take off. From religious perceptions to distribution, nothing seems to have really worked out in the past.

Surprisingly, the only outlier which outperformed the market has been a public sector entity: State Life Insurance Corporation. To put its scale in context, it is among the largest employers in the country with around 5,500 staff and 130,000 sales personnel registered, according to Chairman Shoaib Javed Hussain.

You’re probably thinking what’s the big deal about that since public sector organisations are almost always bloated. That’s not necessarily the case here because unlike others, it is a profitable entity that recorded a net income of Rs9.32 billion in the first nine months of fiscal year 2022 (9M2022).

For insurance companies, a better indicator of financial health is probably the premium revenue, the collections from policyholders, which reached Rs279bn in 2022. This was 64pc higher compared to the previous year and puts it among some of the biggest organisations in the country in any sector.

In insurance specifically, State Life is by far the largest player.

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