Monday, September 30, 2013

Insurance Frenzy


All through this week I was overwhelmed by the attention I got from ICIC-Pru Life Insurance Company, and - this is even more surprising - from the Insurance Regulatory Authority of India (IRDA).

At first came the calls from IRDA. Vivek, an IRDA employee (Ref.8231), wanted to know details of my insurance policies and seemed rather unhappy to know that my insurance agents had not been passing on a part of their hefty commission to customers like me.

"Finally", I thought, "Here is a regulator who is actually reaching out to check for customer feedback".

I had forgotten about this conversation until Vivek called again to say that my agents (Sachin Jain and Gera Wealth Creators for LifeTime and Lifetime-S respectively), ought to have paid me back 30% of each of the annual premium payments I paid them!

Just when the numbers were sinking in, I got a call from ICICI-PruLife. A very persuasive Kulvinder Singh Dhillon (Id 1086918) told me gravely that the value of my market linked insurance policy had eroded substantially over the years. Would I be interested in converting it to an endowment policy? This, he insisted, was the only way in which I could hope to recover the money I had lost.

Dhillon then put me on to his boss in Mumbai. The boss turned out be an amazingly rude woman who kept telling me that she was "very, very, very, very senior to Dhillon", and that she did not have the time to provide explanations about this rush up.

Confused, I reached out to Vivek of IRDA. "Did they ask you to open a new account?...and pay up Rs.20,000, upfront?" he laughed, and cautioned. "Don't sign up for anything new until you get all the information on email."

Vivek also put an end to the frenzy of calls from ICICI-PruLife.

IRDA is all set to enforce new insurance-sector norms from 1 October 2013. Traditional products are being brought at par with unit-based ones; commission is being linked to policy term and coverage will now depend on the age of the insured persons.

All through this, I still have not figured out why a giant insurance company should bully existing customers, and why the national insurance regulator was reaching out to one-in-a-million suckers like me.

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LINKS:

* BS -- http://www.business-standard.com/article/pf/life-insurance-products-to-become-more-transparent-from-tomorrow-113093000237_1.html

* ET -- http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-09-09/news/41903514_1_products-irda-new-norms

* IRDA Homepage -- http://www.irda.gov.in/Defaulthome.aspx?page=H1
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