IRDA conducts a series of Annual Seminars on Policyholder Protection. As a part of this series, the 3rd seminar on “Policyholder Protection and Welfare” was held in Kolkata on 2nd June, 2012.
The seminar consisted of four sessions – Apart from the inaugural session,, there were three technical sessions viz. i) Understanding Insurance-A Consumer Concern ii) Preventing Mis-selling in Life Insurance and iii) Tying and Bundling Insurance with other goods and services.
The seminar was inaugurated by Shri J Hari Narayan, Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. He launched IRDA’s ‘Consumer Education Website’, an initiative under its ‘Bima Bemisaal’ campaign on consumer education.
The following publications of IRDA were also released during the seminar:
- Volume-II of the comic book series “Ranjan and his tryst with insurance”
- Animation Film on Volume-I of “Ranjan and his tryst with Insurance”
- Policyholder handbooks in 11 regional languages apart from English and Hindi.
- The Consumer Affairs Department’s Annual Booklet 2011-12
During the seminar, winners of the ‘Bima Bemisaal’ essay competition were presented their prizes along with a certificate of merit.
During the welcome address, Shri U Jawaharlal, IRDA, mentioned about the various policyholder protection initiatives of IRDA, including guidelines for Web-Aggregators, Distance Marketing etc.
Shri R. Chandrasekaran, Secretary General, General Insurance Council, in his address, talked about the relationship between Education, Grievance and Market Conduct Issues and stressed upon the need to analyze the real time grievance data for early warning systems in an attempt to take preventive measures, wherever necessary.
Shri S. Roy Chowdhury, Member (Life), IRDA stated that the insurance industry has grown by leaps and bounds creating better deals and better access to the policyholders in past decade and today, it is at par with many developed countries. People are becoming aware about insurance products and the initiatives of IRDA in the area of consumer education will go a long way in protecting their interests. Focusing on the standards of service, Shri M Ramaprasad, Member (Non-Life) stated that insurance is a service driven industry, and the insurers must fulfill the promises made at the time of purchase of policies. He added that awareness needs to be percolated from the higher levels, empowering the customer with knowledge thereby reducing the levels of dissatisfaction.
In his inaugural address, Shri J. Hari Narayan, Chairman, IRDA, stated that the insurers’ approach towards product design has to be to the advantage of the consumers. He stated that policyholder is a key player in the industry and the growth of the insurance industry ought to be seen through the prism of policyholder welfare. According to him, proper managerial approach on policyholder’s service making it inherent to company’s business policy will ensure healthy growth of business in all other dimensions. He concluded his speech indicating the areas of the work being undertaken at various forums with greater dependence on electronic media of exchange citing the examples of Accident relief care in Haryana etc.
The second session covered topics like ‘Empowering the Consumer through Education’, ‘Plain Language in Insurance Policies’ and ‘Consumer Education by the Insurance Industry’ & was chaired by Shri R.K. Nair, Member (F&I), IRDA as Moderator. Initiating the session, he stated that financial inclusion is part of global agenda and consumer education is the focus ensuring awareness about access of services and its affordability.
The third session covered the topics of ‘Prevention of Mis-selling – Industries initiatives’, ‘Standard proposal form/Needs Analysis/Need for a Prospect Product Matrix’ and ‘Consumer Perspective on Mis-selling’ & was moderated by Shri S. Roy Chowdhury, Member (Life), IRDA. The challenges in maintaining transparency, offering systemic solutions for arresting mis-selling were discussed.
The last session covered the topics of ‘Concerns relating to Tying and Bundling in Insurance’, ‘Tying and Bundling – The intermediary perspective’ and ‘Consumer concerns relating to tying and bundling’. Shri M Rama Prasad, Member (Non-life) handled the last session and the concerns related to bundling, its merits and de-merits were debated at length.
Shri T. Sriram, Financial Advisor, Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority summed up the deliberations reiterating that there is a need to re-look into the existing models, create a balance between the interests of industry as well as policyholders and catalyze the thought process for better self regulation of the industry. He also proposed the Vote of Thanks.
The Consumer Affairs Department’s Annual Booklet 2011-12 was also released during the seminar.