What does the budget 2023 have for the insurance sector

What does the budget 2023 have for the insurance sector  22nd February 2023

The Government of India presented the union budget on 1st February 2023. It has provided incentives for the people to move from the old tax regime consisting of deductions and rebates to the new tax regime. This, in turn, will affect the insurance sector as well.

While there were a few surprises here and there, it has proposed a significant change by taxing maturity proceeds of insurance policies commanding an aggregate premium of over Rs.5 lakhs in a financial year. Such high premiums usually occur in the case of money-back insurance plans that require one-time premium payments or endowment plans.

Here are some of the key recommendations that would impact life insurance sector.

1. No change in Section 80C and 80D:
Insurance premium amounts paid for insuring the life of self, spouse, or child are presently eligible for deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act up to Rs.1.5 lakhs per annum. This is irrespective of whether our child is minor or major, dependent or independent. Also, individuals, as well as Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), are both eligible for claiming this deduction.
Similarly, Section 80D allows a person to claim a deduction for health insurance premiums and expenses incurred towards preventive health check-ups for self, spouse, children, and even parents up to Rs.65000/- per annum, subject to certain conditions.
The budget of 2023 could have been better for the insurance sector of the limits under Sections 80C and 80D. The industry expected a raise in the limits under these sections to boost consumer savings and investment. However, these limits have been left untouched in the budget of 2023.

2. The choice between the old-tax regime and the new-tax regime:
Till now, there was an option to choose between the old-tax regime that allows for several deductions and rebates and the new tax regime that taxes your income at a flat rate. You could choose either of the two and enjoy the above deductions under Sections 80C and 80D by choosing the old-tax regime.
There has been a shift in policy in this regard in the budget of 2023. The new tax regime is the default setting for individuals, under which you cannot enjoy these rebates. If you still want to enjoy deductions under Sections 80C and 80D, you will have to choose the old-tax regime specifically.

3. Aggregate premium clause:
According to the budget of 2023, if the aggregate premium paid by an individual is over Rs.5 lakhs in a financial year starting 1st April 2023, he will have to pay tax on their maturity proceeds. However, if such a policyholder dies, the nominee's maturity proceeds will be tax-free.
Maturity proceeds or income from insurance policies having an aggregate premium of less than Rs.5 lakhs in a financial year will be exempted from taxation. However, the introduction of this clause may discourage consumers such as High-Net-worth individuals (HNIs) from buying big-ticket insurance products to save taxes. As a result, the revenues or top-line of the insurance companies are bound to suffer and go down.

The Insurance industry plays a vital role in the overall financial growth of the country, and as such, the sector is undoubtedly not very encouraged with the budget for 2023. There was a general expectation of an extension of the Rs.1.5 lakhs deductions allowed under Sections 80C and 80D, which still needs to be met. Moreover, taxing the maturity proceeds of policies commanding an aggregate premium of Rs.5 lakhs or more in a financial year will further dampen the sales of high-value insurance policies.

However, insurance buyers need not be worried as the prevalent deduction limit is still the same and has not gone down. Also, a very small percentage of Indians buy high-value insurance policies, and the changed clause is unlikely to affect most Indian residents. Online general insurance policies continue to offer the same ease, protection, and security, and individuals can continue to enjoy its benefits.

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Disclaimer: The information provided above is for illustrative purposes only. To get more details, please refer to policy wordings and prospectus before purchasing a policy.