Relieving the pain

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SummaryIrda’s new norms on disclosures will help customers make informed choices as well as redress their grievances faster

send a statement of account, every six months, within 15 days for policies in force, including discontinued policies where the proceeds are yet to be paid to the policyholder or his nominee, as the case may be. Typically, for insurance companies most consumer grievances are related to the product features, which are not explained at the time of selling the policy. Misselling of insurance products results in the policy getting lapsed because of non-payment of premiums.

Analysts say examples like converting single premium policies to regular Ulip policies, selling inappropriate products like Ulips for short-term goals and giving erroneous information on products like guaranteed products are most common customer grievances. Other areas of consumer grievances are settlement proceeds not received by the policyholder, surveyors not reaching on time to access the damage in case of non-life claims and disputes on total settlement amount and documentation.

The insurance regulator has underlined that public disclosure of risks faced by the insurers is critical for ensuring a fair and orderly insurance sector. The disclosures should be reliable and timely to ensure efficiency of the markets. They provide necessary feedback to the insurance regulator to ensure safety of investors as well as the policyholders.

Last year, the regulator made it mandatory for companies to put in place a system that will comply with the grievance redressal norms of the regulator. After receiving the complaint, the insurer will have to send a written acknowledgment to the policyholder within three working days and attend to the complaint with 15 days of its receipt.

To protect the rights and interests of policyholders, the Kamesam Committee made some pertinent suggestions, which were incorporated in Irda's Protection of Policyholders' Interests Regulations, 2002. The regulator has mandated that an insurance company will have to communicate, within 15 days of receiving the request, the decision on the new proposal to the proposer and the copy of the policy bond will have to be given to the proposer within 30 days of acceptance.

While every insurer has a place in the grievance redressal system, an aggrieved consumer can also approach the Insurance Ombudsman for complaints relating to personal claims for a value up to R20 lakh.

The regulator has also mandated that the claim on life insurance will have to be paid within 30 days of receipt of the claim documents and, if delayed, savings bank interest rate has to be paid to the policyholder for the number

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