Monday, September 30, 2013

Haryana Extends RSBY to Rag Pickers, Rickshaw Pullers, Taxi Drivers

The Haryana government has decided to bring rag pickers, miners, sanitary workers, rickshaw pullers and taxi drivers under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), which has been providing health insurance cover to economically weaker section of the society. Street vendors, domestic workers, beedi workers, MGNREGA workers and building and other construction workers have already been included in the scheme in Haryana.

According to a spokesperson at Health Department, this scheme will cover about 2, 16,000 additional people including 27,000 rickshaw-pullers, 23,000 rag pickers, 27,000 miners, 22,000 sanitary workers and about 72,000 auto rickshaw and taxi drivers. The total estimated financial burden on the exchequer will be around Rs 5.80 crore during the fiscal year, out of which Rs. 1.45 crore (25 percent) will be borne by the state government.

RSBY is a government-run health insurance scheme for below poverty line (BPL) people working in an unorganized sector. It provides smart card-based cashless hospitalization in public as well private hospitals up to Rs 30,000. As of February 2011, about 23 million families have been enrolled in 25 states.

IRDA Permits Insurers to Invest 20% of AUM in India Infra Debt

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), on Thursday, announced to raise the investment ceiling for both life and non-life insurers in the infrastructure debt funds up to 20% from 10% of Assets Under Management (AUM).

The directive of the regulator came after the receipt of an application from India Infra debt seeking approval of the issue of Rs 500cr Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) to consider as investment in the infrastructure sector by insurance companies.

This decision of the regulator will help in greater amount of fund flow to infrastructure sector, which according to the expert, needs a huge investment of about USD one trillion during the 2012-17 period.

In the amendment to the IRDA (Investment) Regulation, 2000, notified in February this year, the regulator specified that investments in infrastructure debt funds backed by the Central Government shall be reckoned as infrastructure investment on a case-to-case basis.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

HDFC ERGO General rolls out 'Insurance Portfolio Organiser'

HDFC ERGO General Insurance, country's leading private sector general insurance company has rolls out 'Insurance Portfolio Organiser', which facilitates its policyholders to get access to their policy-related information through insurer's website or mobile phone as an application, which is compatible to all platforms like Android, Windows, Blackberry. This is also available on Apple devices.

This organiser enables policyholders with key features like- register online motor insurance and health insurance claims, place and track service requisite, detailed information of health insurance, motor insurance or personal accident insurance policy with the company. Customers can set policy renewal reminders free of cost, modify correspondence address, view nearest HDFC ERGO branch and hospital network, and can access customer care.

Sri Mukesh Kumar, Member of Executive Management and Head - Strategy Planning and Marketing at HDFC ERGO, said, “Smart applications are now making it possible to deliver a personalised and interactive user experience. 'Insurance Portfolio Organiser' application from HDFC ERGO enables customers to access the insurance information quickly no matter where they are at home, at work or on the go."

It can be viewed from any GPRS, Wi-Fi and Mobile data services enabled mobile phone, he added.

AIC Can Now Use Services of Insurance Agents, Says IRDA

With a view to boost crop insurance penetration in the country, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has permitted Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AIC) to use the agent network of non-life insurance companies to distribute its products.

The regulator in a circular issued recently, has said that those agents and corporate agents willing to offer their services to AIC would have to submit a 'No Objection Certificate' obtained from their parent non-life insurance company and registered themselves with AIC.

However, the regulator said that the certificate is not required to use the existing agency network of state-owned non-life insurers by AIC to distribute government -sponsored agriculture insurance schemes and distribution of in-house products on co-insurance basis.

The regulator said that there is very less awareness about crop insurance in rural people. It is very urgent to make them aware about crop insurance, the regulator said adding, a large number of crops are being cultivated in India without appropriate insurance coverage.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ICICI Pru Life Raises Stake in Jagran Prakashan

Private sector leading insurer ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company has announced that it has purchased 3 lac more shares of Jagran Prakashan through an open market transaction. Post transaction, the insurer now holds about 1.67 crore shares of Jagran Prakashan. The insurer's stake in the company has increased to 5.06 percent from 4.97 percent earlier.

The acquisition was done recently through the National Stock Exchange (NSE). The stock of Jagran Prakashan was 0.5 percent up and was trading at Rs 83- per share on the BSE. 
But on the NSE the stock was trading at Rs 82-per share, a down by 0.9 percent.

Jagran Prakashan Ltd (JPL), owner of Dainik Jagran, Mid-day, Naiduniya etc. is a Kanpur-based country's leading media conglomerate. It owns 9 newspaper titles in 5 different languages across 15 states with over 100 editions.

National Insurance Employees to Head Micro-Offices Outside Major Cities

Government-owned general insurer, National Insurance Company, on Wednesday, asked its employees to agree to sell policies and head micro-offices situated outside major cities, or get used to missing promotions for two years. The company has mandated even those who have spent more than 25 years of service in the company.

Reacting over the company's decision, Sri K. Govindan, Joint General Secretary, General Insurance Employees All India Association, told reporters, “Heading a micro-office may be good for a man. But for a woman, it is a risky proposition, as there are issues of personal safety as well as the safety of office cash involved."

Unions have taken up the issue with all the four public sector general insurers- National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Co. Ltd, Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd and United India Insurance Co. Ltd., Sri Govindan said adding, the centre has directed the four general insurers to set up at least one office in all the villages/towns having a population of over 10,000, so as to achieve wider financial inclusion.Hence the insurers have decided to open micro offices in all such towns, but the insurers observe that some employees are not keen to take charges, as the pay and the perks to be paid are not proportionate with the work involved.

According to an industry insider, at the same pay, a person heading the micro-office not only has to sell the products and achieve the target, but also issue the policy document, deposit the cash/cheques collected in the bank and keep the office open.

“If the employee opts to take up a new assignment, then there is no quarrel. The problem arises when the employee is shown the stick - take up marketing or else no promotion for the next two years", Sri Govindan said.

As per union officials, only National Insurance is compelling intra-clerical grade promotes to take up marketing jobs, failing which they are made ineligible to aspire for the next step for two years. The officials said, “It is a double whammy. How can you expect a person who worked inside an office for nearly two decades to suddenly go out into the market and start all over again? By doing that, the company actually loses back office talent."

According to an official, the companies urged only those clerks who have been promoted to the officer cadre to head micro-offices. Now, that practice is being implemented at intra-clerical cadre promotion as well.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bajaj Allianz eyes to increase rural biz pie to 20% in next 5yrs

Private sector insurer Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company hopes to increase its rural business to around 20% in next five years from 6-7 % at present, and is planning big expansion in these regions, a senior official said.
Sri Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, said, “We aim to increase rural business pie to 20% from the present 6-7 % in next five years. So, we are planning to expand our presence significantly to achieve this.”  Despite the economic slowdown, the company will pursue its expansion plans in rural areas as rural economy remains vibrant, he added.

In addition, he said that car sales as well as FMCG products sales are increasing rapidly in rural areas. So, rural areas are going to drive the growth of general insurance industry in the future, for which we aim to increase our rural presence. Under penetration of insurance products in the area especially in non-life segment throws up a huge opportunity for the company.

The general insurance industry has witnessed deep discounts being offered by general insurers in recent months in commercial line and group health insurance segments, among others.
According to the data available with IRDA, Bajaj Allianz‘s gross written premium stood at Rs 1,506.36cr during the April-July’ 2013.
Despite the slowdown in industry growth, Bajaj Allianz is growing more than industry average, Sri Singhel said.

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited is a joint venture between Bajaj Finserv Limited (formerly part of Bajaj Auto Limited) and Germany's
Allianz Group. Bajaj Finserv with 74% is the major stakeholder in the JV. 

Chidambaram rolls out insurance repository system

Today, the Union Finance Minister Sri P. Chidambaram has launched IRDA's Insurance Repository System (IRS) in a function held in Hyderabad. This system will help individual policy holders keep insurance policies in electronic form and undertake modifications and revisions.
Insurance Repository System will also have digitised non-life insurance policies soon, Sri Chidambaram said.
In the mean time, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) said that the Insurance Repository System set up by the sector regulator in India, will be the first of its kind in the world.

Earlier this month, the regulator gave five companies - CAMS Repository Services Limited, Central Insurance Repository Limited, SHCIL Projects Limited, NSDL Database Management Limited and Karvy Insurance Repository Limited, the status of insurance repositories and provided them with a licence that will be valid till July 31, 2014. The regulator also said that insurance companies can enter into agreements with one or more repositories.
IRDA in a statement said, “The objective of creating an insurance repository is to provide policy holders a facility to keep insurance policies in electronic form and to undertake changes, modifications and revisions in the insurance policy with speed and accuracy in order to bring about efficiency, transparency and cost reduction in the issuance and maintenance of insurance policies.”
The IRS will generate a unique code number to all policyholders, and their policies will come under that number. It maintains the history of the policy details such as claims, nominees, beneficiaries and other data.
However, the policyholders will have an option to choose to either IRS or to be stuck to the traditional format.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Insurers to use Common Service Centres as distribution networks

Concerned over the low insurance penetration especially in rural areas, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has released new guidelines allowing insurance companies to use licenced Common Service Centres (CSCs) as distribution networks in rural areas. An initiative of the National e-Governance Plan, the CSC model will operate in rural areas without access to internet. The plan provides services like e-governance, education and utility payments and works on the public-private partnership model.
With the help of a Rural Authorised Person (RAP), these centres will help insurance companies to market certain categories of retail policies through a special-purpose vehicle. A RAP will act as an insurance agent. The RAPs will help prospective insurance buyers in choosing appropriate product based on their need, and obtain detailed information relating to proposers/persons/risks to be insured and protection needs and suggest on the adequate cover.
Moreover, the RAPs will also assist prospect buyers/policyholders in all manners, whether, it’s about premium payment, assignment of nominee, claim procedure, filing forms or collecting of documents like death certificate or any other document required for the speedy settlement of the claims.
The regulator hopes this scheme will help insurance reaching out to the most untapped areas of the country. Through this scheme, people in remote will come to know about various insurance products and their benefits and hence insurance penetration in the areas can be increased. For the rural areas, the regulator has directed all insurance companies to design special products to be marketed exclusively through the CSC model and file the products for approval with the regulator. These products will be tailored especially according to needs of a particular area or the insured. Under the products, the maximum Sum Assured per life or risk will not be more than Rs two lac, except for motor insurance.
The RAPs will have to undergo 20 hours of mandatory training and register on the Learning Management System website. The online examination of RAPs will be conducted by the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology, which is an autonomous scientific society of the Government of India, Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
The RAPs will have to provide necessary assistance to the policyholders, claimants or beneficiaries in complying with the requirements for settlement of claims by the insurer and forward any information received from the client regarding a claim or an incident that may give to a claim without any delay. Also, if there is any delay on the part of the insurer to settle the claim, the RAPs will have to inform the policyholder accordingly, said the guidelines, adding, to increase persistency, the RAP will have to ensure remittances of premiums by policyholders within the specified time by giving them notice well before time, both orally and in writing.

Friday, September 13, 2013

United India imposed penalty for repudiating a claim

The Chandigarh District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has imposed a penalty of Rs 20,000 on state-owned insurer United India Insurance Company (UII) for rejecting a claim. The forum also asked the insurance company to pay Rs 7,000 towards litigation cost and Rs 43, 864, the insured amount of the complainant's two-wheeler, Honda Activa. The forum has ordered the company to pay the entire amount within a month.

The vehicle of one Pradeep Kumar from village Kajheri of Chandigarh block was stolen from the parking area of a lake at Sector 42 when the complainant had gone for a walk around the lake. Although, the FIR regarding the theft was lodged after four days, the complaint informed the police the same day.

United India Insurance repudiated the claim on the ground that the vehicle was not registered at the time of theft and the FIR was lodged after four days, which deprived the police and the insurance company as well to make efforts to find the vehicle. Although, the claimant had presented a Non-Traceable Certificate to the insurance company obtained from the police.
The forum ruled that the repudiation of the claim because of non permanent registration was found to be unjustified and illegal. The forum also said that the plea of the insurance company with regard to delay in intimation to the police was found unsubstantial as it was duly informed on the same day as shown with the help of an RTI in the forum.

Jaipur Metro will provide free insurance cover to its passengers

The Jaipur Metro Railway Corporation (JMRC) has decided to provide a free insurance cover to the passengers travelling by Metro train. The JMRC will pay the premium from its own fund. The corporation will invite proposals from insurance companies regarding the same. The JMRC decided to implement this insurance scheme after a meeting with the DMRC management in Delhi recently.

The JMRC will also provide insurance cover to its employees. Under the policy, the JMRC employees will get accidental and normal insurance cover as well.
“In two-three days, all work will be completed for the trial run of Metro (first phase) from Mansarovar to Shyam Nagar”, said Project Director of DMRC Sri Atul Gadgil. However, the exact date for the trial has not been fixed yet.

 Only 40-50 metre track is remaining for electrification work which would be completed in next 2-3 days, Sri Gadgil said adding, locals will probably get to see the Metro running on the track on September 15. But people have to wait till next year for the Metro ride.

According to the officials, the trial would be conducted without passengers because for carrying passengers during the trial run, it is necessary to take prior permission from the district administration which has not been taken yet.