Mumbai, 22 May 2010: Moneylife Foundation on Saturday held a workshop-cum-discussion on the importance of insurance safety net. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Fali A Poncha, a veteran of the insurance industry, said, “Before buying any insurance policy, it is very important for one to read the fine prints in the policy. An insurance contract includes everything. It mentions the scope of the policy, conditions and enclosures. One needs to understand what his policy covers provide and what it doesn’t. ”
He stressed that the significance of insurance must taught at early age, especially right from the school level. He said, “Many people in India lack awareness about insurance, therefore less people have insurance. If we can teach insurance in schools, then the conscious levels on insurance will increase.”
Mr Poncha highlighted that personal accident cover is essential for individuals, however a lot of people in India do not have this cover, despite the lower costs of these policies. He stressed that people should by insurance policies like health and home insurances and be very clear of the details in the policy.
Speaking about the post-nationalisation of insurance industry, he said even today insurance policies are not sold but only bought. Insurance policies were only sold to the corporate clients, as the incentives were way to lower for individual policies.
He added that an insurance company will only interpret a policy on the time of a claim. He also elaborated on the role of ombudsman in case if an insurer has any grievance against his insurance company. He said that the ombudsman is very important for individuals as it gives the claimant a choice to go for an appeal. In addition, the claimant is not bound by the ombudsman order and can seek redressal in consumer or other court. However, corporate entities, partnership companies and cooperative societies cannot appeal to an ombudsman.
Every contract of insurance is based on a principle of indemnity with a few exceptions. He explained, that an individual should not make profit or loss from a policy– that is–the individual cannot insure more than what he will lose. In addition, if one needs insurance, then he doesn’t need to go to an insurer or advisor. However, he needs to understand what the policy includes and what excludes.
Mr Poncha said that the experiences of the senior citizens with insurance companies are appalling. As one grew older, his health deteriorates and that is the time he requires health insurance the most. However, in India most companies do not provide for insurance or medi-claim coverage after the age of 65. Mr Poncha said the senior citizens can opt for an insurance cover that may provide certain coverage for health insurance, not necessarily higher in terms of money. State-run National Insurance Co Ltd does have a health insurance plan for senior citizens called as ‘Varistha’ that can provide a good substitute for them, Mr Poncha said.
He also said that insurance offered by credit card companies are unsafe. One should not rely on these companies for any kind of insurance, as they do not provide you with the policy details.
The conference was attended by activists, students, researchers, mutual fund distributors, financial advisors and members from the insurance fraternity.