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SBI Life saves India in insurance’s elite

In an elite club that spells a sense of arrival for the world’s insurance agents, India’s tally went up in 2008, but that is not quite the story.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2009 21:46 IST
Falaknaaz Syed

In an elite club that spells a sense of arrival for the world’s insurance agents, India’s tally went up in 2008, but that is not quite the story. The economic slowdown affected business, causing a decline in the number of agents qualifying the MDRT, or the Million Dollar Round Table, in most insurance firms.

SBI Life, apparently aided by strong training and aggressive sales, was the sole entity reporting a rise in MDRT headcount, while other domestic players including state-owned behemoth Life Insurance Corp licked their bruises. ICICI Prudential, Max New York Life, HDFC Standard Life and Birla Life reported a fall of between 32 and 42 per cent in their MDRT list.

In figures for 2008, SBI Life Insurance topped with the highest number of MDRT members (2,677) among the top 100 life insurance companies in the world, becoming the first Indian company to get the honour.

Rajender Sud, director and head (agency distribution), at Max New York Life said business was also hit because of commissions falling for controversial Unit Linked Insurance Plans. “Also because of the economic recession, customers were postponing their decisions,” Sud said.

To be eligible for a basic MDRT membership every year, an agent has to meet a specified production goal in the first year income or a certain commission in addition to adhering to a strict code of ethics.

MDRT is considered to be the premier association of insurance salespeople and financial advisors in the world. Founded in 1927, MDRT has 36,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from 76 nations and territories, representing over 450 companies.

For 2008 an insurance advisor had to earn a minimum commission of Rs 7,59,100 or account for a minimum premium income of Rs 30,36,400 to qualify for the MDRT.