Along with life insurance, Manojoy Rai (name changed) got himself insured with a renowned health insurance provider to get cover against the ever-increasing cost of medical treatment. Initially, Rai was getting a hard copy of his health insurance policy – along with the card that was issued afresh every year – delivered to his address.
However, after a few years, the insurance company stopped issuing the insurance card every year and issued a card without any expiry date. Following this, the insurer started issuing hard copies of the policy renewed online only on getting requests for the printed policy.
As the policy document contains critical details of the insurance cover laying out the benefits, terms and conditions, nominee details, the procedure to file for a claim if needed, and the contact details of the insurer, it’s important to have the policy copy, especially for health insurance, where terms and conditions often change during renewals.
As Rai was getting a hard copy of the renewal notice, but not of the policy document, he was not pleased with the dual policy of the company to go paperless.
Once the health insurer was taken over by a general insurance company, Rai got agitated as he was not getting even a hard copy of the renewal notice. Moreover, in the soft copy of the renewal notice, even the amount of the renewal premium was absent.
As, unlike life insurance, the premium of health insurance not only changes with the age of the insured person(s), but also increases in every few years with the increase in the cost of treatment, not only Rai, but many insured persons got upset and even informed the company that they would discontinue to avail services of the company unless the renewal premium is mentioned in the renewal notice.
One of the insured persons even said that not only the premium amount but knowing the breakup of the gross premium – like basic premium, loading (if any), and tax (GST) – is also his right.
The digitization push during the COVID-19 pandemic has made the issue even more complicated with almost all the insurance companies stopping issuing hard copies, as they decide to go completely paperless.
As per regulation 4 of IRDAI (issuance of e-insurance policies) Regulations, 2016, an insurer has to issue both physical and electronic insurance certificates to policyholders. However, as an interim measure in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, IRDAI had allowed insurers to issue only electronic policy documents and exempted them from the requirement of sending insurance policies in physical form till March 31, 2022, following two extensions.
However, according to a recent survey conducted by Bombay Master Printers Association (BMPA) among 5,000 insured persons across age groups and cities, over 75 percent of respondents say that insurance companies should restart the process of sending physical copies of their insurance documents along with digital copies, as COVID-19 virus spreads ebbs in India.
While many insurance companies say they only issue physical copies on getting requests from insured persons as a part of their “Go Green” policy, 59 percent of the respondents indicated that – even after submitting requests – insurance companies refused to share the physical document.
There is no objection to the digital copy, but almost 88 percent of the respondents say they prefer to have a physical copy of their insurance document as insurance companies may demand it at the time of a claim.
So, according to the survey, over 80 percent of the respondents want the insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to intervene and direct insurance companies to provide a physical copies of policy documents to customers as a choice.
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