Feb. 26--Cigna Corp. this week started selling medical policies in India after clearing a lengthy regulatory approval process for licensing.
The Bloomfield health insurer first announced in January 2012 its partnership with an Indian conglomerate best known for its kitchen appliances and cookware, TTK Group.
TTK was not in the insurance business before the venture. Cigna chose TTK because of its familiarity with Indian consumers.
"Leveraging the strengths of TTK's strong local market expertise with Cigna's expertise in developing innovative products and services will help Cigna TTK meet the needs of consumers, who are progressively realizing the importance of health insurance," Sandeep Patel, CEO and managing director of Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company, said in a statement.
This is the latest of many expansion plans into foreign markets by U.S. insurers, including health insurers. Cigna has sales capability in 31 countries and jurisdictions. Cigna has 14.2 million medical customers, including 1.26 million in its International business, which includes countries such as China, Turkey and Korea.
"Given the continued rise in medical costs in India, coupled with a parallel increase in lifestyle related diseases, there is an urgent need to upscale health insurance penetration in the country," Patel said in a statement. "We are committed to providing affordable and innovative health insurance solutions to meet our customer's daily health challenges without compromising on quality customer service."
The two partnered to form a new joint venture, Cigna TTK Health Insurance, to sell individual medical coverage policies initially. Cigna said it plans to launch group products in the coming fiscal year.
Most of the work related to the Indian market will be handled at Cigna TTK operations in India, though Bloomfield is the company's global headquarters to which all financial matters are reported. Cigna TTK is headquartered in Mumbai.
Cigna had about 4,100 employees in Connecticut at the end of 2013 and about 35,000 around the globe.
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