South Africa’s Biggest Insurer Targets India

In this iPMI Global Insights article, iPMI report author Ian Youngman, takes a look at the news, that Sanlam, Africa's biggest insurer, is looking to India to boost profit in the short term amidst tepid economic growth at home in South Africa.

  • The Cape Town-based firm has the potential to triple the proportion of profit it derives from India within a decade.
  • Sanlam depends on South Africa for 75% of its revenue, but power shortages that have led to rotational blackouts are driving up costs and hobbling the economy.
  • India already contributes 10% to Sanlam’s profits.
  • Sanlam has a decade-long partnership with Shriram Capital Group.
  • The partnership with Shriram operates a listed financing business and two insurance companies-Shriram Life Insurance and Shriram General Insurance.
  • Sanlam owns a 23% stake in each insurer.
  • Neither offers health insurance.
  • Shriram is extending into wealth management.

Sanlam CEO Paul Hanratty:

  • Sanlam cannot thrive in the long run without a thriving South Africa.
  • Ultimately, we need the country to do well. 
  • There are 10 countries on the continent that move the dial for Sanlam and the insurer lacks the scale it should have in some of these.   
  • If you ask where our real short-term upside is, it’s India.


  • Sanlam and Allianz are working together to target Africa for health insurance.
  • The partnership may extend t other countries.
  • Allianz already has its own and partnership deals offering health insurance in India.
  • Sanlam does not yet offer health insurance in India.
  • Assuming universal health insurance in South Africa continues as planned, insurers such as Sanlam will lose their health insurance businesses there in a few years time.
  • So Sanlam has to look outside of South Africa for income and profit.

What Next?

  • The company will eventually require acquisitions to grow in East Africa.
  • Health insurance in India is a target for Sanlam and the question is how and with what partners it will launch.

About the Author

Ian Youngman is an independent writer and researcher specialising in insurance. He writes regularly for a variety of magazines, newsletters, and on-line services. He publishes a range of market reports, and undertakes research for companies. To read his latest report, International Health Insurance 2023, please click here, or visit the REPORTS section of iPMI Global.

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