LIC does well to include a third-gender option for its insurance offers
The country’s largest insurer, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India, has done well to introduce a third-gender option in its proposal forms. While The Economic Times reports that this was done to conform with a 2014 Supreme Court ruling to recognise transgenders as being outside the gender binary, the optics of this move greatly empower one of the most vulnerable sections of the Indian population. Self-identified third-gender individuals number nearly 5 lakh, as per Census 2011, though the real number is likely to be much higher, given the stigma associated with transgender identity could have caused under-reporting.
However, LIC, and perhaps other insurers looking to emulate it in this regard, will have to grapple with many tricky questions. First, a majority of transgenders belong to the economically vulnerable hijra community. Given the insurer doesn’t have differential premiums based on gender, how that can be reconciled with at-risk transgender individuals seeking insurance is something that needs to carefully considered. On the other hand, if it were to have differential premiums based on gender—many companies charge a lower premium from women—recognising the third gender would also mean dealing with questions such as whether transgender individuals are to be treated as more vulnerable than women or less. While this queers the pitch for LIC, the insurer would already be putting a lot of thought into this, perhaps mulling over a special product altogether. There is no denying, however, that the move is a bold and, indeed, desirable one.