While the insurance regulator has taken a number of steps to ensure smooth transfer of money to policyholders, unclaimed deposits of life insurers nearly doubled to `10,527 crore from `5,440 crore between March 31, 2015 and March 31, 2016. In non-life insurance, however, unclaimed deposits decreased to `1,198 crore from `1,787 crore during the same period, data from a reply to a question in Lok Sabha show.
The Limitation Act, 1963 provides a time limit of three years for insurance claims due to a policyholder. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) directive covers the entire gamut of unclaimed amount including any amount payable to policyholder as death claim, maturity claim, survival benefit, premium due for refund, etc.
All insurance companies have to display information about any unclaimed amount above Rs 1,000 on their respective websites. This would enable the policyholder or his dependents to find out whether there is any unclaimed amount due to him. Insurers have to keep policyholders and beneficiaries informed about any updates, changes and maturity details by SMS alert or e-mail or any other mode.
In 2015, Irdai had mandated insurers to show unclaimed amounts as a separate line in their balance sheet under current liabilities. The unclaimed amount is governed by investment norms applicable to the funds. Moreover, insurers have to credit the investment income accruing on the unclaimed amount to the respective identified unclaimed account. They can recover administrative and fund management expenses from the unclaimed amounts.
How to claim the money
Experts attribute the spike in unclaimed amount to multiple reasons, ranging from litigation by policyholders, excess premium collection and misplaced cheques to policyholders forgetting to encash the cheque.
To get the unclaimed money, policyholders or his dependents should enter details like policy number, PAN, name and date of birth on the insurer’s website. If the information entered matches the insurer’s database, then the name and address of the policyholder against whom any unclaimed amount is lying with the insurer will be displayed. Once the unclaimed amount is located, they can approach the insurer. For all new policies issued, insurers have to take details of the bank account. For term insurance policy, in death claim, bank details of the nominee is required. The policyholder will not have to furnish bank details where bank account is not linked to RBI’s core-banking solutions like cooperative or regional rural banks.
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Insurers provide an option to modify bank account details. Policyholders should inform nominee about policy details and register their email for regular updates.