Taking the plunge into India,
US health insurer Cigna has joined forces with Indian consumer
products conglomerate TTK to establish a new health insurance
company. Cigna will have a 26% stake and TTK a 74% stake in the
company, to be named Cigna TTK.

TTK’s attraction as a partner
lies in its involvement in India’s consumer sector and its
extensive distribution network. Among TTK’s interest are the
manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals, fast moving
consumer goods, bio-medical devices and food products.

Cigna and TTK are eyeing 2013
to launch Cigna TTK which has still to be licensed by India’s
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. Cigna TTK is to be
headed by Sandeep Patel who joined Cigna in 1998. Patel has served
in several leadership roles including the expansion and management
of Cigna’s business in the Middle East region.

Cigna TTK will become India’s
fourth stand-alone health insurer, joining Star Health & Allied
Insurance, Apollo Munich Health Insurance and Max Bupa. Health
insurance is also offered by life insurers, general

In the six months to
September 2011, the IRDA reported that the three health insurers
and general insurers had written total premiums of INR672bn
($13.4bn), up 21.3% compared with the same period in 2010. The IRDA
does not disclose life insurers’ health insurance premium

According to consultancy
Towers Watson, India’s health insurance market continues to be
dominated by the four state-owned general insurers, or so-called
public sector undertakings (PSU). The four PSUs, notes the
consultancy, have a combined market share of about 60%. Among
private players, the top position in the six months to September
2011 was held by ICICI Lombard with a market share of 11.4%. The
second largest private player was Star Health & Allied
Insurance with market share of 8.9%.

Towers Watson notes that
Indian life insurers are stepping up their efforts in the health
insurance sector. Specifically, notes the consultancy, declining
sales of unit-linked insurance products and pension products are
forcing life insurance companies to sell their cover along with
health insurance policies.

“Life insurers aim to tap their existing vast distribution
network to offer health insurance along with life insurance [and] a
few such products have already hit the market,” states Towers