Insurance veteran Venkatasamy Jagannathan retires as Star Health CEO after record-high profits

Venkatasamy Jaganathan, 79, chairman and CEO of Star Health and Allied Insurance Company, is stepping down in a big way. The company he helped found in 2006 — in which he also has a small stake — reported A record net profit 618 crore, including a record underwriting profit of Rs 204 crore.

For Jagannathan, (who will continue as non-executive chairman of Star Health) this is the second retirement. The first was when he assumed the position of Chairman and Managing Director of the public sector insurance company, India United Assurance – a company that Jagannathan turned around.

When Jagannathan, who has a master’s degree in economics, became CMD for United India Insurance in 2001, the government-owned insurance company was racking up losses. Within three years, Jagannathan turned it around and left it with a profit of around Rs 450 crores.

When the ETA Group wanted to enter into a non-life insurance business, they turned to Jagannathan for guidance, who advised them to enter into health insurance. This was at a time when the health and auto portfolios of all insurance companies were hemorrhaging. But, from his experience at United India Insurance, Jagannathan knew that if one plays his cards right, health insurance would be profitable. Then he said to this writer, “Health is where the money is.”

His motto was simple: Strict control over hospitals. Star Health’s group of physicians will check every bill for funded hospitalsThis is to ensure that there are no inaccurate invoices. Such control, along with advertising blitzkrieg, Jagannathan proved that Health need not be a cash-bleeding portfolio for insurers.

He has also guided the company through its IPO of ₹ 7,249 crore, in November 2021.

“Am I not getting old?” Veteran of the insurance industry for nearly six decades cynical when business line I reached out to him for comment on his retirement today.