Insurance Act, 1938
Imperial Legislative Council
(Now the powers of the act rest with Parliament of India)
  • An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to the business of insurance
CitationAct No. 4 of 1938
Territorial extent India
Enacted byImperial Legislative Council
(Now the powers of the act rest with Parliament of India)
Amended by
1940, 1941, 1946, 1950, 1955, 1968, 2002, 2015, 2021
Status: Amended

The Insurance Act, 1938 is a law originally passed in 1938 in British India to regulate the insurance sector. It provides the broad legal framework within which the industry operates.[1]


Prior to the law, only the Marine Insurance Act, 1906 of England existed in British India but it only applied to marine insurance. For other insurance, the British common law was applied. This law passed in 1938 borrowed heavily from the British law and covered all sorts of insurance. In 1963, a new Marine Insurance Act for independent India was passed. This also borrowed heavily from the English Marine Insurance Act, 1906.[2] The Insurance Act had resulted in the formation of Controller of Insurance, a regulatory. But following the nationalisation of major insurance companies in India, under Life Insurance of India Corporation Act, 1956 and General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972, its importance diminished. However, as India began allowing private companies again in the insurance sector, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India was formed in 1999.[3]


The Insurance Act has 120 sections and 8 schedules. Under it, only an Indian company, as defined and registered under Companies Act, 1956, is allowed to operate in India. Its foreign entity-owned equity should not exceed 49% as of 2015. It must have a licence from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India.[4][5]

In March 2021, The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by the Parliament of India which increased the maximum permissible Foreign Direct Investment in the insurance sector to 74%, from the previous limit of 49%.[6]

See also


  1. ^ M Y Khan (2013). Indian Financial System. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-259-09798-0. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  2. ^ Akhileshwar Pathak. Legal Aspects of Business, 6e. McGraw-Hill Education. p. 557. ISBN 978-93-392-0541-6. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  3. ^ Neelam C. Gulati (1 January 2009). Principles of Insurance Management: A Special Focus on Developments in Indian Insurance Sector Pre And Post Liberalisation. Excel Books India. p. 322. ISBN 978-81-7446-556-6. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  4. ^ C.L. Tyagi & Madhu Tyagi (2007). Insurance Law and Practice. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. p. 20. ISBN 978-81-269-0786-1.
  5. ^ "RBI notifies hike in FDI cap in insurance sector to 49%". The Economic Times. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ "FM Nirmala Sitharaman to move Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2021 in Rajya Sabha for passing today". Zee News. 18 March 2021.