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Friday, 31 October 2014

Insured, but do you know the claim process?

The floods in Jammu and Kashmir and cyclone Hudhud in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha claimed lives and wrought destruction. The sheer magnitude of such catastrophes brings home the importance of insuring your life and assets. There is little one can do to assuage the trauma and pain of loss, but financially, there is help at hand if you are insured. Insuring your life or assets, however, is not enough; you also need to understand the processes involved while making a claim.

Read on to understand how to get ready to make a claim and how do insurers make your life easier during natural calamities.

Life insurance

In life insurance, upon the death of the policyholder, the sum assured or the insurance money goes to the nominee of the policyholder. The nominee will need to give documents such as the policy papers, death certificate of the insured issued by the municipal corporation and her medical death summary in case she died due to an illness. If death was accidental, a first information report (FIR) and a post-mortem report will need to be given. In addition, the nominee will also need to provide an identity proof.

But in case of catastrophes, insurers waive off certain documentary requirements. “We accept the proof of death from a hospital or any records kept with any government body during catastrophes. In such cases, we also crunch our claims form from a four-page document to a one-page document in which we capture just the basic details of the insured and the nominee. After the J&K floods, we actively reached out to our policyholders and didn’t need documentary evidence such as policy documents to settle the claim,” said Tarun Chugh, managing director and chief executive officer, PNB MetLife India Insurance Co. Ltd. According to the insurer, it has over 220,000 policyholders in the region, and it received three claims, which were settled within 24 hours.

But even under normal circumstances, you can secure your insurance policy and make the process simpler by digitizing the policy by opening an e-insurance account. “In the normal course of claim settlement or on maturity, the original policy document is required. If it is misplaced, the customer has to go through the hassle of doing paperwork to get a duplicate policy document. E-insurance reduces this risk,” said Chugh.

In fact, this also helps if you are fortunate to have survived a disaster that has, however, destroyed your assets, including important documents. “An e-insurance account also ensures that the surviving customers need not apply for a duplicate policy in case they have lost it. It increases efficiency and convenience. Be it a natural calamity or any other reason, there is no risk of losing the policy documents,” added Chugh.

Householder’s policy

There are two types of covers for your house—basic fire insurance or a comprehensive policy. Fire insurance covers financial loss due to damage to your house and its contents on account of fire and other allied perils such as earthquake, lightening, storm, flood and riots. “Householder’s policy will usually cover all kinds of natural perils as it covers all acts of God,” said Rajagopal Gopalan, head-operations and claims, Bharti AXA General Insurance Co. Ltd. Additionally, if you want to cover the contents of your house for burglary or breakdown of electronic equipment, go for a comprehensive policy, typically known as the householder’s package policy.

The policyholder will need documents establishing the incident of loss, policy number, an estimate of the loss, and the ownership of insured assets. “Insurers typically look for three things. Is the event insurable? What is the extent of financial loss? And does the person claiming have an insurable interest in the asset?” said Rajagopal.

Accordingly, insurers need documents such as the report of the fire brigade in case of fire; a police report in case of an explosion; or a report from the meteorological department or a surveyor’s report in case of a natural peril. Insurers will also need the policy papers and proof of you owning the insured asset such as the registration papers of the house and original bills of insured items in the house. “As opposed to an isolated loss, we do not need proof of an event that is public knowledge. Even for determining the value of the asset, as well as the interest of the person claiming, we are flexible in accepting corroborative evidence rather than strict primary proof in extraordinary circumstances. Examples could be proof of purchase through a credit card bill instead of the original bills or online warranty in the case of household goods to prove date of purchase,” said Gopalan. 

To assess the quantum of loss, the insurer will send a surveyor who will assess the damage and work out an estimate to give the insurer. “It is mandatory for insurers to assign a licenced surveyor if loss is in excess of Rs.20,000. But in both the recent Jammu and Kashmir floods and Hudhud cyclone in Andhra Pradesh, the insurance regulator raised this ceiling to Rs.50,000, which helped a lot in reducing settlement time. Also, we didn’t insist on a full surveyor’s report, which could take time. An indication over email or phone was accepted to release an initial amount,” said Gopalan.

The policyholders, on their part, should try and inform the insurer as soon as possible. “Most insurers give a window of around two weeks after which they will need a valid explanation for a delay in claim. For natural disasters, some leeway is given for the delay in intimation of a claim. But in the regular course of events, we will need a valid explanation because a delay hinders our ability to inspect the damage and assess the loss,” said T.A. Ramalingam, head-underwriting, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd.

Motor insurance

If your vehicle gets damaged in an accident or otherwise, call up your insurance company and inform them as soon as you can. “Other than huge natural catastrophes, where delays are likely, you should inform the insurer within a day or two, or have a logical reason to explain the delay. Else, you may unnecessarily face problems because the insurer would want to know the reason behind such a delay,” said Ramalingam.

Insurers will help you locate the nearest garage that will tow away your car for repairs. An appointed person at the garage will work out an estimate for the repair and a surveyor from the insurance company will come to assess the damage and the cost. The surveyor, after assessing the damage, will accept the bill and the insurer will pay the garage directly.

“These days, most policies are cashless, where the insurer settles the claim directly with the garage. But the policyholder will still need to pay the deductible amount and any depreciation amount to the dealer or the garage,” added Ramalingam. In case you don’t have the cashless facility, you will need to pay the bill yourself and then claim it from the insurance company.

In case of theft, you need to inform the police station in your area and register an FIR. The police take about 90 days to search for your car. If it’s not found in this period, the police issues a non-traceable report. You need to give this report to the insurer, along with other documents such as the policy and registration certificate. After submitting the report, the insurance company will also make some enquiries at its end. Such claims are typically settled within 15 days.

Insurers usually have a proactive approach during catastrophic events, and are encouraged by the insurance regulator to smoothen the claims process. However, during a regular course of events, insurers prefer to carry out their due diligence process. Therefore, as a policyholder or a nominee, intimate a claim without delay and keep necessary documents ready.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Reinsurance will protect United India against disaster claims

Reinsurance will protect United India Insurance Company Ltd. despite expecting around Rs.1,100 crore in claims over losses following Andhra Pradesh's cyclone and Kashmir floods, a top company official said Monday.

Chairman-cum-managing director Milind Kharat told reporters: "We have received cyclone damage claims in Andhra Pradesh for around Rs.440 crore and it is likely to go up to around Rs.800 crore. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the flood damage claims are around Rs.300 crore."

He said: "We do not expect any impact on our profits as we will be claiming the claim amount from our reinsurer."

According to him, the company is insured against catastrophic losses with reinsurers. Only claims up to Rs.25 crore will have to be borne by United India and anything over and above that will be passed on to the reinsurers.

Cyclone 'Hudhud' recently battered Andhra Pradesh while Jammu and Kashmir was hit by floods.

General manager T.L. Alamelu said: "We are making part payments-on-account payments to claimants as an immediate measure in Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh."

According to her, the company has paid around Rs.1.5 crore to one of the oldest hotels in Jammu and Kashmir, Hotel Broadway, as part settlement of its claim.

Kharat said: "...the insurance claims from Jammu and Kashmir floods will be around Rs.1,500 crore and United India's share in that will be around Rs.300 crore. We have paid claims of around Rs.102 crore. In Andhra Pradesh, the claims are from steel and power plants under construction."

General manager and financial advisor V.E. Kamala said United India closed the first half of this fiscal with a net profit of Rs.376.24 crore and a total premium of Rs.5,291 crore. For the corresponding period of the previous year, it had posted a net profit of Rs.364.54 crore and a total premium of Rs.4,768 crore.

He said the company has logged 11 percent growth in the first half while the industry's average growth was at eight percent.

According to Kharat, the company will expand its network by opening 200 offices and recruit around 900 employees (around 300 officers and 600 clerks).

He said the company will introduce innovative covers in the motor health insurance segments and also launch a package policy for small and medium enterprises.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bajaj Allianz plans cover for defamation suits

If there is trouble due to your post on the social media, soon you may be able duck under an insurance cover. In what it calls to be new age insurance, Bajaj Allianz plans to extend its cyber security cover to individuals. A niche product so far, the focus has been on the corporate segment covering routine aspects like data loss, and other Internet related issues.

A plan is being actively considered to bring a related cover for individuals too. May be it can cover the liabilities arising out of a defamation suit filed following a comment or a post on social media, Tapan Singhel CEO of Bajaj Allianz told TOI. He was in the city to inaugurate the premises of the company's office.

"This can be the future of insurance business. For example the insured person has to face a legal claim following what he has written on the face book. If the courts rule a penalty against him the insurance company can bear the liability or the legal expenses," said Singhel.

The plan is certainly on the drawing board but the finer points like premium and other aspects are being worked out. Singhel said the company believed only serious clients would go for the plan and the facility should not be misused.

About the company's share in the region, he said in Vidarbha Bajaj Allianz had seen a 46% rise in business. This was being attributed to the growth in motor and health insurance segments. There were plans to open new offices as business grew, he added.

Singhel said the company was looking forward to opening customer service centres in Bhandara, Yavatmal, Amravati, and Wardha by the end of this year.

The company now wants to increase its presence in the country on the whole and there are plans to open 4,000 new centres in five years. It feels that this may also help increasing the penetration of general insurance which is a small fraction of life insurance.

Currently there is a marginal penetration of the general insurance companies, especially in middle class segment. "Products especially like the health care insurance need to be pushed more as it ensures financial security in times of need as expensive medical treatment indeed becomes drain on a family's savings" said Singhel.

Singhel hailed the recent move by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), to penalize the companies if they subsidize the premium for group insurance covers as the cost is finally recovered from the individual clients. "This is certainly not the right business practice as in a bid to provide a cheaper cover to corporate, the insurance companies have been ending charging more from individuals," he said.

Friday, 24 October 2014

IRDA's marketing firm to make insurance brokers unhappy: Experts

The Indian insurance industry is expecting the regulator to come out with its regulations allowing new breed of intermediaries -Insurance Marketing Firm (IMF)- that would make corporate agents and brokers unhappy, said industry officials.

"We are expecting the regulator to come out with the regulations soon, say in a week or two. Going by the draft regulations issued earlier there insurance regulator may be crossing swords with pension and mutual fund regulators," a senior official of life insurance industry told IANS preferring anonymity.

Another industry source also expressed similar views.

As per IRDA 's draft regulations issued earlier, IMF is an entity licensed by IRDA to market financial products approved by financial sector regulators, by employing persons licensed to market the financial products.

"The insurance broking community will certainly be upset at the IMF regulation as the start-up capital needed is Rs.10 lakh whereas in the case of insurance brokers the minimum capital is Rs 50 lakh," D. Varadarajan, a supreme court advocate and an expert in insurance/company/competition laws told IANS.

"In the case of an insurance marketing firm, there is not even a whisper in the draft Regulations on ceiling on business from a single client, unlike the ceiling as prescribed for a broker, corporate agent and individual agent under the respective Regulations, which is a glaring example of manifest discrimination," Varadarajan said.

According to him, the remuneration pattern suggested for IMF is liberal and would also be a cause of concern for the insurance brokers and corporate agents.

Varadarajan also visualised a scenario where corporate insurance agents now selling insurance policies/mutual funds/fixed deposits and others would be asked by IRDA to get them registered with it.

"The Regulations, if notified, would result in turf war among IRDA, SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority)," Varadarajan said.

"It is not known whether the Insurance Regulator has taken into confidence for encroaching upon the earmarked turf of SEBI and PFRDA and coming out with this astounding regulatory initiative," he said.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

India to use Aadhaar to provide universal healthcare

The Indian government plans to use its national Aadhaar biometric database to deploy its newly proposed universal healthcare program.

As part of the new national government’s manifesto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised radical reforms in healthcare with the introduction of the “National Health Assurance Mission” (NHAM) scheme. The new program’s goal is to provide accessible and affordable healthcare to every Indian citizen.

In order to achieve this goal, the Indian government intends to use Aadhaar as means of identification for healthcare insurance beneficiaries. The new government decided to extend the use of the system to other social programs and to make Aadhaar the primary national identity scheme after extensive review.

A government source recently told the Economics Times newspaper that: “The government has planned to seed Aadhaar numbers with its universal health program. Experts think that this would help in keeping a check on any fraudulent insurance claims or ghost beneficiaries.”

Aadhaar, the world’s largest biometric database, is governed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), and is currently used to authenticate delivery of social services including school attendance, natural gas subsidies to India’s rural poor, and direct wage payments to bank accounts.

The introduction of universal healthcare to India’s citizens will arguably be the most ambitious use of the biometric database.

To date, India only spends 1.04 percent of GDP on publicly funded health, which is one of the lowest amounts in the world. Higher amounts of public health finance are pivotal to provide a wider range of essential basic health services, along with access to life-saving drugs and expanded healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and health centers.

Because the government plans to make the healthcare plan accessible through Aadhaar, it has committed to accelerate resident registration. In its first budget, the government allocated $340 million to speed the Aadhaar registration process.The government’s objective is now to enroll 100 million more residents with Aadhaar. UIDAI has already enrolled about 700 million people and issued unique identification numbers to 650 million.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Group insurance costs set to rise

Group health insurance will become more expensive for companies where hospitalization claims from employees exceed the premium paid. The insurance regulator has said that it will penalize insurance companies that accept group health covers at a loss as these losses are ultimately subsidized by individual health insurance buyers. The regulator has also asked insurance companies to come up with savings-linked health insurance plan so that individual buyers do not see a spike in rates as they age.

At present, large companies with loss-making group health covers continue to escape rate hikes by shopping for new insurers. The chase to build up top-line growth has resulted in health insurers willing to accept business even if there is little likelihood of generating a profit. According to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), insurance companies cite these high losses to raise rates for individual policies where the buyer does not have the bargaining power.

"We have seen cases where insurers are quoting rates below their burning cost. Since insurance business is nothing but pooling of resources, it is clear that if group premiums are inadequate, they are being subsidized by someone else," said IRDA chairman T S Vijayan in his address at a health insurance summit organized by the National Insurance Academy in Mumbai. Burning cost is a measure used to calculate the extent of premium required to cover claim payments. In health insurance, trends in claims under a group policy usually do not vary year to year and pricing is, therefore, based on burning costs.

"We are going to increase solvency margins for companies that accept group health insurance at rates below their burning costs," said Vijayan. "If the group health premium is below the burning costs, we want you to inform your board about this. This will bring discipline into the underwriting process," he added.

Speaking of the need for affordable cover at old age, Vijayan said, "It is essential that there is some kind of a savings-linked health insurance plan. Rather than the premium going up by leaps and bounds with age, a portion of the premium could go towards savings used in old age," he said. Unlike term life insurance where the premium is 'levelled' over the tenure of the policy, in health the contracts are priced annually and rates go up with age.

Reacting to questions on the Central Bureau of Investigation questioning the extent of penalty slapped on Reliance General Insurance for violations in sales of health policies, Vijayan said that IRDA's penalty was in keeping with regulation. "The maximum penalty that can be imposed by IRDA under Law is Rs 5 lakh per offence. We reconstructed the file and found that the company had been penalized for four offences," he said.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Insurance brokers oppose 100% FDI proposal

The insurance broking industry is staunchly opposed to any move to gradually increase FDI in the intermediary segments to 100 per cent even as regulator IRDA is examining a top panel's recommendation in this regard.

An IRDA panel known as the Suresh Mathur Committee has recommended hiking FDI in all insurance sector intermediaries like brokers, surveyors, third-party administrators and web aggregators to 49 per cent, from the present 26 per cent immediately and then 100 per cent over the next three years.

According to industry sources, the panel headed by IRDA Joint Director Suresh Mathur had recently submitted its report.

"We will oppose the move to increase FDI cap to 100 per cent and we will do whatever we can do to resist that. We will approach the government on the issue once the report comes to us," Insurance Brokers' Association of India (IBAI) President Sohanlal Kadel said.

Members of the IBAI collect close to Rs 20,000 crore premium per annum.

The Suresh Mathur Committee was formed in January 2014 on the basis of the report submitted by the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), headed by retired judge N Srikrishna.

The Srikishna panel (FSLRC) was essentially formed to give a push to sluggish financial sector reforms, and it had recommended that wherever the government could raise FDI without parliamentary approval, it should do so without delay.

Observing that there ought to be a level-playing field between insurance companies and their brokers, Kadel, who himself was an IRDA panel member said, "We will welcome FDI up to 49 per cent from the existing 26 per cent, but we are not in favour of 100 per cent FDI in our segment."

Monday, 13 October 2014

A helping hand in road mishaps

India ranks high in terms of road accidents. while trauma of victim could not be addressed, third-party insurance helps in monetary issues.

Mohan was hit with a car while crossing the road and got hospitalized with severe injury. He does not have any accident insurance or any other cover; but does that mean he will have to bear the hospital expenses himself or get satisfied with the whatever compensation offered by the car owner? Or, what happens if the car owner or driver doesn’t admit his guilt and blames the victim for his carelessness, or if he escapes from the scene? Or, how can the victim get compensation if he doesn’t know anything about the vehicle which has hit him?

Yes, every road accident is different and no two occurrences are similar. Some may happen due to the fault of the driver, some due to the carelessness of pedestrians.

Disputes and claims raised through such instances involved with personal injury, death of a third party or damage to a third party property is covered under the third party insurance cover.

The way by which Mohan can claim the compensation for the loss of his money and injuries sustained is through the settlement of a third party claim.

However, many people are unaware of this process or are hesitant to go ahead with it due to the tiresome process it involves and would raise a claim only in the case of loss of life and get satisfied with whatever money is offered as compensation by the other party.

However, it is imperative to understand the procedure involved in third party claim.

Understanding Third-Party Insurance

Road accidents claim a large number of lives in India every year. Driving a vehicle carefully is the responsibility of all those who drive vehicles. As per the Indian Road Safety Act and Indian Motor Vehicles Act, third party motor insurance is mandatory for all vehicles, irrespective of its age.

All general insurance companies provide third party motor insurance along with vehicle cover as a comprehensive auto insurance policy, or as standalone policies for old vehicles.

 A comprehensive auto insurance policy contains two parts: Own damages and third party cover.

The own damage portion takes care of the vehicle in instances of damage, while the third party portion covers all damages caused due to the fault of the individual driving the vehicle.

Any bodily harm or injury caused to any third party or damages caused to the party’s vehicle or properties are covered under third party insurance. This includes the driver of the vehicle and third parties include co-passengers, pedestrians, another damaged vehicle or its owner.

There is an unlimited cover for the third party policy by default, where as the maximum limit for third party property damage is Rs 7.5 lakh. There are options to enhance the cover with add-on covers.

How to Make a Third-Party Claim:

Filing a third party claim is a long and tedious process. Let us look at the various steps involved in claiming of any third party damage or injury, taking the case of Mohan as an example.

Either Mohan or the driver of the vehicle has to report the event with a local police station and get an FIR (first information report) registered. In most cases, the driver (policy holder) files the case, but in case of instances like escaping or non-admittance of guilt by the driver, the injured can file the case. The case has to be filed with the police station under whose jurisdiction the accident site occurs.

Once the FIR is registered, the police prepares chargesheet. Thereafter, the victim need to file a case with the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal.

Unlike other civil cases, any accident related cases for third party insurance claims cannot be filled with civil courts and have to be filed only with special Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The complaint can be registered with the tribunal with jurisdiction either of the accident site or area of residence of the claimant or defendant. Third party damages can be claimed depending on the loss of life, injury or any property damage.

In Mohan's case, since the driver admitted or forced to admit his over speed, the FIR mentioned the cause of the accident and the admission of guilt by the driver of the vehicle.

The driver gets a copy of the FIR and charge sheet and files a claim with the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The case would come up for hearing as per the backlog and a final decision on the monetary cover would be ordered. The compensation would be given by the third party pool and not the insurance company and the payment will be made directly to Mohan with no active involvement of the vehicle owner.

Difficulties in Making a Third-Party Claim:

While third party insurance is compulsory as per Motor Vehicles Act, getting a claim can be a tiresome process. It may take a year or more. The settlement gets delayed because of the backlog of cases at the tribunal and also due to judicial process of proving the driver’s fault. The complete narration of the incidence in the police FIR and original records of expenses to substantiate any pecuniary losses.

TPM insurance is the only insurance, which is mandated by law. General Insurance Corporation is the administrator of the pool of money collected from insurers against third party policies.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Government in discussion with RBI over banks selling insurance policies

The government is in discussions with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on scrutinising the practice of banks selling insurance products, commonly called bancassurance.

The move follows fresh complaints of customers being forced to buy insurance policies when they apply for loans or seek other banking services.

"The issue was flagged by the central vigilance commission," said a government official with knowledge of the matter. "This review cannot be limited to state-run banks, and needs to be done for the entire sector, including private banks." The government also wants a review of existing incentive structures at banks for selling insurance products, because of concerns that giving over-importance to bancassurance could affect core banking functions.

As per industry estimates, insurance business through bancassurance accounts for just about 7.5% of total insurance premiums. About 15,000 of India's 100,000 bank branches are engaged in selling insurance policies.

The vigilance authority, in its communication to the government, had pointed out that sale of insurance products usually form a part of the bank's appraisal system. "This impacts the core function of the banks, which is not conducive for the system," the official cited earlier said.

The RBI had previously highlighted the need to revisit the marketing and sales strategies used by banks in pushing insurance products, especially since insurance is considered as a more complex financial product.

Several issues have risen in the bancassurance structure, such as misselling and also using unfair practices such as linking purchase of insurance products to provide locker facilities, the central bank had said in its financial stability report.

Under the previous Congress-led government, the finance ministry was pushing for banks to be permitted to act as insurance brokers and use their entire network, as part of its efforts to bring more people under insurance cover. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has already allowed banks to act as brokers and sell products of more than one insurer.

As per latest data, just 3.96% of the population had insurance in 2012-13, a drop from 5.2% in 2009-10. General insurance penetration in the country stands at just 0.78%. Both bank officials and insurers say questioning the basic premise of the bancassurance model will be a retrograde step.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Life insurance is long-term investment and protection product: Tarun Chugh

The perception of buying an insurance cover has undergone a sea-change in the last two decades, thanks to the increased cost of owning a home, especially in mega-cities that lead to increased anxiety levels amongst borrowers. Banks have been one of the key influencers in getting their customers look at death as the inevitable, especially when they are doling out huge cash in long term housing or education loans. Over the years, products too have matured to the life cycle needs of us mortals. In an exclusive interview with OP Thomas, managing director of PNB Metlife, Tarun Chugh, discusses various products available today for consumers and the way to go about picking up the right mix. Excerpts:

What is the general outlook of investors when it comes to buying an insurance policy?

Today investors do understand the importance of purchasing an insurance policy. It is an important component in a person's financial plan that gives valuable protection as well as benefits of wealth creation which investors look for. Just to re-iterate, life insurance is long-term investment and protection product and should be bought on a need-based analysis, life stage whether it is saving for retirement or child education or loan protection among others.

Do you think one needs to do some research before going for a product?

Life insurance product should be bought following a need-based analysis of your existing financial portfolio. Once the need gap is identified, then you can research for the product best suited to address your requirement. There are many web aggregators that provide comparisons in terms of features and pricing. You can also meet insurance agents of your shortlisted companies and get complete clarity on –policy term, premium payment term, life cover, maturity benefits and applicable charges. You can also check the fund performance of the companies in case you are planning to buy a ULIP.

On products for kids...

Child plans from a life insurance company are the only products that ensure that the corpus planned for one's child's future is available whether the parent is around or not. Child plans, including Met Smart Child, typically come with a premium waiver benefit, which ensures that all pending premiums are paid into the policy fund upon the unfortunate demise of the parent. We are shortly launching a child plan on the traditional platform too.

Could you please elaborate on schemes/products one should look at for retirement?

Retirement plans offered by life insurance companies offer the benefits of both insurance and investment. On survival of the policyholder, one third of the fund value is available for the policy holder and the rest is put into an annuity for regular monthly income. Retirement plans from an insurance company are available on ULIPs and traditional platforms and one can choose either depending on their risk appetite. Though these plans come with a capital guarantee now. One can also look at various other pension plans offered by the banks or mutual fund companies. However retirement plans from insurance companies are the only ones that come with a life cover and additional tax benefits. To ensure a substantial corpus on retirement, it is advisable that one should start investing at the beginning of their career cycle.

On unit-linked insurance products...

With a steady government at the centre, the long term economic outlook of our country is perceived to be stable. The Indian equity market is well poised and is showing signs of renewed investor confidence which has encouraged investments in ULIPs. We believe that unit linked plans with equity exposure should be opted ideally by those customers, who have a high risk appetite and a long-term investment horizon.

Which is the best selling product of yours?
Met Endowment Savings Plan – the plan provides you the benefit of systematic long-term savings while offering your family the protection. Through systematic savings, you can accumulate a corpus for your future goals. You have the flexibility of choosing your premium depending upon your ability to pay. This comprises of close to 30% of our business on a monthly basis.

How beneficial are on-line insurance policies to the buyer?

With increased awareness around protection products, online term plans have become a huge success with insurance buyers. Buying insurance online gives buyers the option to evaluate several plans before making a decision. There are web aggregators that provide comparative analysis on products. Online plans click well with a certain set of buyers who like to do their own research and they are also simpler and cheaper than offline policies.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

CignaTTK Health Insurance launches global group health cover

Sum insured ranges from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 12 crore

CignaTTK Health Insurance has launched a global flagship product in India, as a part of its group product. The product, called the CignaTTK Global Health Insurance, offers a sum insured of between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 12 crore.

The product gives employers the liberty to purchase the policy in Indian rupees and claims in respective local currency. The existing policies from other domestic players are a mix of travel and health insurance policies which need to be purchased in US dollars.

Sandeep Patel, CEO, CignaTTK Health Insurance said that this product is a global expat plan from India.

“The expat plans offered are by international insurance companies with either no or limited access to Indian market. This product will also be cheaper than the other expat plans offered by international players,” he said.

Patel said that this product is suitable for companies, Indian or otherwise, who have employees across the world and is designed for employees who keep travelling on a regular basis. This plan covers the employee in the home country, India and anywhere in the world depending on the geographies chosen in the cover. It also covers the employee, his/her wife/husband or live-in partner/fiancée and dependent children upto the age of 25.

The minimum number of employees included in the group plan is 10 and it is a yearly renewal policy.

Patel explained that while there are policies covering health expenses when one is travelling abroad, Cigna's product covers not just emergency and critical illnesses, but also other ailments and health check-ups done in other countries.

The Policy is available in both deductible and co-pay options and policy holders can claim for dental, vision treatment too. Co-pay means that the insured pays some out-of-pocket expenses when they receive the services while insurer pays the rest. Deductible is the fixed amount one pays before the policy benefits come into force.

The product has a 30 day emergency cover beyond the area of coverage. Patel explained that terrorism and catastrophe related medical conditions are excluded and not covered under the policy.

“In a crisis situation, policyholders under a group can rely on our emergency assistance services. For instance, if there is an epidemic, we will stabilise the person and get them back to the home country,” said Patel.

The Policy offers two plans – Ruby and Diamond. Ruby has sum insured options of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2.5 crore, while Diamond plan offers sum insured option of Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 3 crore, Rs 4.5 crore, Rs 6 crore, Rs 9 crore and Rs 12 crore.

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