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IRDAI caps value of surety insurance contracts at Rs 500 cr

Chennai, Jan 4 (IANS) The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has capped the quantum of surety insurance contracts for an insurer at 10 per cent gross premium written subject to a maximum of Rs 500 crore per year.

The IRDAI has also stipulated that the non-life insurers wanting to underwrite the surety insurance risks should have a solvency margin of 1.25.

The Authority on Monday issued the IRDAI (Surety Insurance Contracts) Guidelines 2022 laying down the norms for this line of business.

Non-life insurers are allowed to carry out this business from April 1 onwards.

"The norms will help regulate/develop Surety as a business in India which otherwise is an accepted norm in the western countries," Vikash Khandelwal, CEO, Eqaro Guarantees said.

"However, it would have been ideal if the final norms had also provided for a specialist surety insurance company," Khandelwal added.

The Mumbai-based Eqaro Guarantees is a surety solutions provider.

Presently IRDAI allows standalone health insurance companies.

According to Khandelwal, allowing the surety insurers to work alongside the banks and other financial institutions to share risk-related information and technical expertise will help foster a robust ecosystem and prevent contagion.

"The guidelines are also silent on the right of recourse available to a surety insurance company in the event of a default by the contractor. These are critical and may impede the creation of surety-related expertise and capacities and eventually deter insurers from writing this class of business," he remarked.

There are three parties to this contract viz., Surety-the person who gives the guarantee; the person in respect of whose default the guarantee is given is called the Principal Debtor and Creditor- the person to whom the guarantee is given.

The other underwriting guidelines as per IRDAI are surety insurance contracts can be issued for infrastructure projects of government/private in all modes; the contract bonds may include Bid Bonds, Performance Bonds, Advance Payment Bonds and Retention Money; the insurers can also underwrite Customs or Tax Bonds and Court Bonds; limit of guarantee cannot exceed 30 per cent of the contract value; surety insurance can be issued for specific contracts alone; the insurer cannot issue any surety insurance contracts on behalf of its promoters/subsidiaries, groups, associates and related parties; the insurer shall not enter into alternate risk transfer mechanism; surety insurance contracts cannot cover financial guarantee; and surety insurance cannot be issued where the underlying assets/commitments are outside India.