Monday, June 30, 2014

Allahabad HC Orders IRDA To Scrutinise Policies Of SBI Life Insurance

The Allahabad high court, one of the first high courts to be established in India, has directed the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to scrutinise each and every policy sold by private sector SBI Life Insurance Company Limited. The court also asked the regulator to discontinue its policies and wind up its business if it detects any regulatory breaches.

The honourable high court pronounced this order hearing a petition filed by one 72-years old Virendra Pal Kapoor, who claimed he had invested Rs. 50,000 in year 2007 in SBI Life's Unit Plus II-Single, a unit-linked plan (ULIP) with an option of limited term of 5-years, on the basic sum assured for life at Rs. 3,12,500 (approximately 6-times of the investment), with a choice of investment in a growth fund. But on maturity, the insurer paid merely Rs. 248 to Mr. Kapoor.

The policy was sold to Mr. Kapoor by an agent on behalf of SBI Life Insurance Company on the basis of certain terms that didn't have necessary regulatory approval.

While the court found that the policy was sold to Kapoor in the premises of SBI Life, and was allegedly misled by an agent in breach of IRDA's norms, the court held an alongside inspection of SBI's directors (who are part of SBI Life's board) necessary to find out if any unlawful gain had been made from sale of such policies.

“The central government will do well to ensure that the investors are not cheated in a manner, as in the present case, in which the entire investment of the senior citizen has been lost on the pretext of the policy being in tune with Irda guidelines", the court said.

SBI Life Insurance is a joint venture between State Bank of India (SBI), country's leading public sector bank and BNP Paribas Cardif, the insurance arm of BNP Paribas of France. SBI holds 74% stake and BNP Paribas Cardif the remaining 26% in the JV.

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