On 27-12-2014, the Union Cabinet approved the promulgation of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2014. The Ordinance aims to amend the Insurance Act, 1938, the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999, in accordance with the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill 2008. The objectives of the Ordinance are as follows:
- to expand and ensure better access to insurance services, especially in rural areas and for economically weaker sections;
- to remove archaic and redundant provisions in the Insurance Laws;
- to empower IRDA for enabling more effective regulation and enhancing the foreign equity investment cap in an Indian Insurance Company from 26 to 49% with the safeguard of Indian ownership and control to potentially enhance capital availability for Insurance penetration in India;
- to allow insurance companies to raise capital through new and innovative instruments, which would help capital intensive insurance industry to garner resources for business growth;
- to enable IRDA to regulate key aspects of Insurance Company operations in areas like solvency, investments, expenses and commissions (absence of which potentially undermines faith in regulatory framework and discourages investment in the sector);
- to enhance penalty provisions to ensure compliance with Insurance Laws by companies, which is essential to uphold the consumer interest.