The Insurance Act, 1938 had provided for setting up of the Controller of Insurance to act as a strong and powerful supervisory and regulatory authority for insurance. Post nationalization, the role of Controller of Insurance diminished considerably in significance since the Government owned the insurance companies.
But the scenario changed with the private and foreign companies foraying in to the insurance sector. This necessitated the need for a strong, independent and autonomous Insurance Regulatory Authority was felt. As the enacting of legislation would have taken time, the then Government constituted through a Government resolution an Interim Insurance Regulatory Authority pending the enactment of a comprehensive legislation.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999 is an act to provide for the establishment of an Authority to protect the interests of holders of insurance policies, to regulate, promote and ensure orderly growth of the insurance industry and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto and further to amend the Insurance Act, 1938, the Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 and the General insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, 1972 to end the monopoly of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (for life insurance business) and General Insurance Corporation and its subsidiaries (for general insurance business).
The act extends to the whole of India and will come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette specify. Different dates may be appointed for different provisions of this Act.
The Act has defined certain terms; some of the most important ones are as follows:
Appointed day means the date on which the Authority is established under the act. Authority means the established under this Act.
Interim Insurance Regulatory Authority means the Insurance Regulatory Authority set up by the Central Government through Resolution No. 17(2)/ 94-lns-V dated the 23rd January, 1996.
Words and expressions used and not defined in this Act but defined in the Insurance Act, 1938 or the Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 or the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, 1972 shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in those Acts
A new definition of “Indian Insurance Company” has been inserted. “Indian insurance company” means any insurer being a company (a) which is formed and registered under the Companies Act, 1956 (b) in which the aggregate holdings of equity shares by a foreign company, either by itself or through its subsidiary companies or its nominees, do not exceed twenty-six per cent. Paid up capital in such Indian insurance company (c) whose sole purpose is to carry on life insurance business, general insurance business or re-insurance business.