Insurance in Nepal

In the diverse landscape of Nepal, where the Himalayas meet the plains, and urban centers coexist with rural villages, the need for financial security is paramount. Insurance, as a financial instrument, plays a crucial role in mitigating risks and providing a safety net for individuals, businesses, and the economy at large. In this article, we will delve into the landscape of insurance in Nepal, exploring its history, regulator, companies and the market scenario.

Contents:

Insurance Companies in Nepal

Below is the list of insurance companies in Nepal including life, general (non-life), micro and reinsurance companies as updated on beginning of the year 2024 A.D.

  1. Asian Life Insurance Company Limited
  2. Citizen Life Insurance Company Limited
  3. Crest Micro Life Insurance Limited
  4. Guardian Micro Life Insurance Limited
  5. Himalayan Everest Insurance Limited
  6. Himalayan Life Insurance Limited
  7. Himalayan Reinsurance Limited
  8. IGI Prudential Insurance Limited
  9. IME Life Insurance Company Limited
  10. Liberty Micro Life Insurance Company Limited
  11. Life Insurance Corporation (Nepal) Limited
  12. MetLife (ALICO)
  13. National Insurance Company Limited
  14. National Life Insurance Company Limited
  15. Neco Insurance Limited
  16. Nepal Insurance Company Limited
  17. Nepal Life Insurance Company Limited
  18. Nepal Micro Insurance Company Limited
  19. Nepal Reinsurance Company Limited
  20. NLG Insurance Company Limited
  21. Prabhu Insurance Limited
  22. Prabhu Mahalaxmi Life Insurance Limited
  23. Protective Micro Insurance Limited
  24. Rastriya Beema Company Limited
  25. Rastriya Jeewan Beema Company Limited
  26. Reliable Nepal Life Insurance Limited
  27. Sagarmatha Lumbini Insurance Company Limited
  28. Sanima GIC Insurance Limited
  29. Sanima Reliance Life Insurance Limited
  30. Shikhar Insurance Company Limited
  31. Siddhartha Premier Insurance Limited
  32. Star Micro Insurance Company Limited
  33. Sun Nepal Life Insurance Company Limited
  34. SuryaJyoti Life Insurance Company Limited
  35. The Oriental Insurance Company Limited
  36. Trust Micro Insurance Limited
  37. United Ajod Insurance Limited

History of Insurance in Nepal

Early Foundations

The Guthi System, derived from the Sanskrit word “Gosthi,” meaning association or assembly, laid the groundwork for communal financial support. However, as Nepal underwent modernization and the growth of small-scale industries, the necessity for more formalized insurance practices arose.

In 1994 B.S. (1937 A.D.), Nepal witnessed a pivotal moment with the establishment of its first bank, Nepal Bank Limited, catalyzing economic and social development. Despite this economic progress, the absence of local insurance companies allowed Indian insurance firms to dominate the market, collecting premiums and taking them abroad. To counter this, “Nepal Malchalani Tatha Beema Company” emerged in 2004 B.S. (1947 A.D.) under the ownership of Nepal Bank Limited, marking the birth of the country’s first local insurance entity. This was later renamed as “Insurance and Transport Company” in 2016 B.S. and further renamed as “Nepal Insurance Company Limited” in 2048 B.S.

The Birth of Rastriya Beema Sansthan

The winds of democracy in Nepal brought about rapid economic and social revolutions, spurring the growth of various industries. However, the limited resources and the nascent stage of the local insurance industry led to the establishment of “Rastriya Beema Sansthan Private Limited” to meet the growing demand for a modern insurance company in Poush 1, 2024 B.S. (1967A.D.) under Company Act. In Poush 1, 2025 B.S. (1968A.D.), it was brought under “Rastriya Beema Sansthan Act 2025”.

As of the beginning of 2024 A.D., Rastriya Beema Sansthan is already separated into life and non-life insurance companies named as “Rastriya Jeewan Beema Company Limited” and “Rastriya Beema Company Limited” respectively.

Birth of Insurance Board

Citing the need for separate regulator to oversee a typical insurance industry, Insurance Board, known as “Beema Samiti” was established in 2026 B.S. under the Insurance Act 2025. Initially, this industry was regulated by a department under Ministry of Finance. Beema Samiti acted as both regulator and consultant of Government in respect to insurance. Subsequently, Insurance Act 2049 and Insurance Act 2079 were introduced to address the changing need of the industry. Through the implementation of the new Insurance Act in 2079 B.S., Insurance Board (Beema Samiti) underwent a transformation, assuming the new identity of “Nepal Insurance Authority”.

Rise of Life Insurance

In 2029 B.S., Rastriya Beema Sansthan ventured into life insurance, a landmark development that marked the institutional evolution of the insurance sector. The company held a monopoly in the market for nearly fifteen years, providing life insurance coverage to the growing populace.

Economic Liberalization and New Horizons

The political change in 2046 B.S. ushered in a liberal economic policy, allowing new players to enter the insurance market. Between 2050 and 2065 B.S., a wave of insurance companies, both life and non-life, entered the market, shaping the industry’s landscape. However, the licensing of new companies saw a brief hiatus, only to be lifted later by the Insurance Board, which permitted the establishment of ten new life insurance companies and three non-life insurance companies from 2074 B.S. onwards. As of the conclusion of 2075 B.S., Nepal boasted a total of 19 life insurance companies and 20 non-life insurance companies.

Formation of Reinsurance Company

During the decade-long Maoist insurgency, insurance companies, with capital support from the government, established an insurance pool in 2003 A.D., known as the RSMDST Pool. This pool provided coverage for Riot, Strike, Malicious Damage, Sabotage, and Terrorism. As the country transitioned to peace and the Maoists joined mainstream politics, the relevance of the pool diminished.

Notably, during this period, there was a lack of a domestic reinsurance company. Recognizing the changing landscape, the Council of Ministers (Nepal) made the strategic decision to transform the Insurance Pool into a Reinsurance Company on August 7, 2014. This marked the inception of Nepal Reinsurance Company Limited, the country’s first reinsurer. Formally incorporated on November 7, 2014, under the Companies Act, 2006 of Nepal, Nepal Reinsurance Company became a pioneering entity in reshaping the insurance landscape.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Post 2019 A.D., number of financial institutions was very high both in banking and insurance sector. Soon, people and regulators started realizing that Nepali market was too small with too many financial institutions with fragmentation of capital into these institutions. It also made the competition fierce while weakening the capacity to absorb bigger risk. This led regulators to use ways to force these companies to merge and be bigger. The trend started in Banking sector and later adopted in insurance sector as well. The idea was to make these financial institutions financially strong with larger capacity, and to tap the economies of scale. This has led to shrinking of numbers to 14 life insurance companies and 14 general insurance companies as of the beginning of 2024 A.D.

Regulation

Regulator

The insurance sector in Nepal operates under the regulatory framework and supervision of the Nepal Insurance Authority. Established in 2026 B.S., originally under the name of “Beema Samiti” or Insurance Board, it functions as an autonomous body overseeing the licensing, regulation, and supervision of insurance companies in the country. Its primary objective is to ensure the stability and growth of the insurance industry while safeguarding the interests of policyholders.

The regulatory environment has evolved over the years to enhance transparency, consumer protection, and the overall efficiency of the insurance market. Companies are required to comply with strict solvency and capital adequacy norms to ensure their financial viability and ability to meet their obligations.

Regulatory Framework

As of the beginning of 2024 A.D., the main legal document that guides the insurance industry is the “Insurance Act 2079”. This act is supported by “Insurance Regulation 2049”. Furthermore, Nepal Insurance Authority, time to time, issues directives to the insurance companies, which they are obliged to follow.

Insurance Institute Nepal

Insurance Institute Nepal Limited (IIN) stands as a Public Limited Company, officially incorporated under Nepal’s Company Act 2063 on January 24, 2019. This establishment is the result of a collaborative investment from the insurance regulatory authority and insurers of Nepal.

At the core of its operations, IIN is dedicated to conducting impactful Insurance Training Programs. These programs cater to employees of insurance companies, financial institutions, and the general public, providing a platform to enhance their skills and knowledge. The training offerings include a spectrum of subjects such as insurance-related laws & regulations including various directives, corporate governance, reinsurance, underwriting, claims, micro-insurance, and more.

For more details, visit their website: iin.org.np

Types of Insurance in Nepal

Insurance in Nepal encompasses a wide array of categories, meeting the diverse needs of individuals, businesses, and industries. The “Insurance Regulation 2049” has categorized insurance into three main types in Nepal, which include:

1. Life Insurance

Life insurance is a fundamental component of the insurance sector, providing financial protection to individuals and their families in the event of death or critical illness. Leading life insurance companies in Nepal offer various products such as term insurance, endowment plans, etc. with option for participation in profits.

Learn more about life insurance in Nepal.

2. Non-Life Insurance

Non-life insurance, also known as general insurance, covers a range of risks beyond life and health. This category includes motor insurance, property insurance, travel insurance, and liability insurance. As the economy grows, the demand for non-life insurance has seen a significant uptick. Some of the popular general insurance products popular in Nepal includes:

    • Motor Insurance: There is mandatory Third Party Liability insurance, along with option for comprehensive coverage.
    • Engineering Insurance: With rapid growth of development works including construction of roads, bridges, hydropowers, etc., engineering insurance is gaining popular. It includes policies such as CAR, EAR, machinery breakdown, electronic equipment, boiler, etc.
    • Marine Insurance: Since our country is heavily dependent on import, marine insurance is inevitable for us. Therefore, it is also quite popular in Nepal.
    • Health Insurance: With a growing awareness of the importance of health and well-being, health insurance has gained prominence in Nepal. It provides coverage for medical expenses, hospitalization, and other related costs. Both individual and group health insurance plans are available in the market.
    • Crop & Livestock Insurance: Agriculture being a vital sector in Nepal, crop & livestock insurance is crucial to safeguard farmers from the uncertainties associated with weather, pests, diseases and other perils that can affect crop yield or their cattle. The government has also introduced various schemes to promote crop insurance among farmers.
    • Microinsurance: Recognizing the need to extend insurance coverage to the economically vulnerable sections of society, microinsurance has gained traction. It offers affordable insurance solutions tailored to the specific needs of low-income individuals and micro-entrepreneurs.
    • Others: Besides, other type of insurance are also slowly gaining traction such as travel insurance, personal liability, etc., most of which are labelled under Miscellaneous.

3. Reinsurance

Insurance companies are further reinsured by Reinsurance companies. There are two domestic reinsurance companies, as of the beginning of 2024 A.D.

Challenges Facing the Industry

While the insurance sector in Nepal has made significant strides, it faces several challenges that warrant attention for sustained growth and development:

  1. Low Insurance Penetration: One of the primary challenges is the low penetration of insurance in the country. A significant portion of the population remains uninsured or underinsured, often due to a lack of awareness, affordability issues, and a general reluctance to invest in insurance.
  2. Lack of Trust: Building trust in insurance products is another hurdle. Many individuals and businesses may be skeptical about the reliability of insurance companies, raising concerns about claim settlement processes and the overall value proposition of insurance.
  3. Natural Catastrophes: Nepal is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and landslides. Managing the risks associated with these calamities poses a significant challenge for both insurers and the government. The 2015 earthquake highlighted the need for robust risk mitigation strategies and insurance solutions tailored to such events.
  4. Technological Advancements: While technology presents opportunities for innovation and efficiency in the insurance sector, adapting to technological advancements can be a challenge for traditional insurance companies. Embracing digital transformation is crucial to improving customer experiences and streamlining operations.
  5. Regulatory Compliance: Strict regulatory compliance requirements, while essential for maintaining the integrity of the insurance market, can be burdensome for smaller insurance companies. Striking a balance between regulatory oversight and fostering a conducive business environment is critical.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the landscape of insurance in Nepal reflects a dynamic and evolving sector that plays a crucial role in the economic resilience of the country. While challenges persist, strategic initiatives, technological advancements, and regulatory support provide a solid foundation for the industry’s growth. As Nepal navigates the complexities of risk in its diverse terrain, a robust and inclusive insurance sector is poised to contribute significantly to the financial well-being of individuals and the overall economic stability of the nation.