Car and SUV sales are looking at their sharpest fall in nearly eight years, it is all set to be a bad year for motor insurance too. The data shows that motor sales growth fell to 8.8% this March from 14.2% for the same period in the previous year.

All the automobile categories — including two-wheelers and commercial vehicles — had slipped into the negative as nervous buyers stayed out of the market ahead of elections and due to the general economic slowdown.

Motor third-party (TP) sales growth — which is mandatory in India by law and covers accidents caused by the driver/owner to other road users — slowed to 15.4% from 17.6%. That of motor own damage (OD), which is not compulsory and covers damage to self and own vehicle, hit a low of 0.5% from 10.2%.

“Car insurance sales has been more affected by the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the elections and the sluggish economy. Bike insurance has been slightly better. Lower demand for motor OD is related to the slowing car sales.

“Motor OD could have fallen more sharply than motor TP because the purchase of new vehicles has slowed. So if only older vehicles are coming for renewal, then the premium amount would be less because of depreciation.

But the months ahead will remain equally tough as auto manufacturers gear up for price escalation and try to adhere to new emission norms and weakening consumer demand. “Going forward, we expect slowdown to continue as rural demand is not picking up due to the liquidity crisis in the NBFC space and higher monsoon deficit in several parts of the country.

Bike insurance also remains under pressure as two-wheeler sales slipped into the red and scooters saw a demand slowdown for the first time in 13 years. The only hope this year is from insurance sales largely from premium renewals from existing bike users.