A change in the address of the policyholder that would usually led to the cheque being returned to the insurance company may be a thing of the past. Insurance companies, life and general, have now not only began to display information about unclaimed policy money lying with them on their website, they are also encouraging movement to National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) so that such funds would be automatically transferred.
Amitabh Verma, Chief Operating Officer, Tata AIA Life Insurance said that they have been very conscious about any unclaimed amount lying with them and have introduced instructions on their website. He added that apart from regular reminders to customers through letters and text messages, details about such policies are available on their portal, which has enabled customers to encash them.
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has said that insurance companies will be required to display information about any unclaimed amount above Rs 1000 of on their respective websites. Policyholders would be given an option in the insurer’s website to check whether any amount of theirs is lying due with the insurance company. For this, the policyholder would be required to enter their PAN number, policy number, name and date of birth.
Reliance General Insurance CEO Rakesh Jain said that they are promoting payments through the mode to policyholders. “At the time of processing the payments, company has initiated a process to collect bank details of the policyholders so that payments can be made directly into their bank accounts,” he said.
Jain also added that in line with the requirements of the circular, they have published the list of unclaimed amount of policyholders on their website.
For new insurance policies, companies will have to bank details of insured in the proposal form. However, this is not applicable to term insurance (without return of premium), insurance policies with annualised premium up to Rs 25000 and those with bank accounts not linked to RBI Core Banking Solutions. This circular comes into force from October 1, 2014.
Insurers are also going over and above the mandated requirements to reach out to customers. Yateesh Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer, AEGON Religare Life Insurance said that apart from publishing data on unclaimed amounts on their corporate website from May 1, 2014, they have also tied up with credit bureaus to update our current records to enable us to trace these customers and facilitate their payouts.
“This has already led to a nearly 20% reduction in the amounts lying unclaimed,” he said.
The regulator said that insurers will be needed to provide this information as of December 31, 2014 by January 31, 2015. Subsequently, this will be uploaded on a half-yearly basis as on March 31 and September 30, by April 30 and October 31 respectively. Sanjay Datta, head of underwriting and claims at ICICI Lombard General Insurance said that though unclaimed amounts are lesser in non-life sector due to facilities like cashless, they will put up the relevant data on their website soon.
To avoid clutter, companies are creating special segments for publishing such information, so that policyholders have an easier access to the information. Further, customers who are not traceable on their address or phone number, are also being contacted through the social media.
Kshitij Jain, MD & CEO, Exide Life Insurance explained that the reason for these unclaimed amounts is that the customers have been non-contactable.
“Given that we have been unsuccessful in reaching out to these customers, we have now taken up a multi-pronged approach to reach out to these customers and make them aware of the unclaimed amount against their policy,” he said. Jain said that an exclusive page on the Exide Life Insurance website exidelife.in where customers can check for unclaimed amounts against their policy
Apart from consolidated communication through emails, letters, SMSes and telephonic calls in an effort to reach out to customers, Jain added that they also trace non-contactable customers through social media and Feet on Street.
Sector officials said that claims are left unclaimed usually due to insurance companies not being able to contact a policyholder through any means. This could be due to a change in address or death of individual at another location where the family at home-town is not aware of such a policy. If NEFT is used for transactions, the bank details are recorded and all policy payments are automatically transferred to that account, irrespective of the policyholder’s location.
How to check prevent money from lying idle with your insurer
-Inform any change of address to the insurance office, either in the present location or in the new location
-Update policy details through the company website
-Use NEFT- based electronic banking transactions so that policy claims are automatically transferred
-For claim amount not collected, you can visit the company website
-Enter name and policy details to check on money that is lying idle with insurer
-Once details are provided, local branches of insurance companies will assist in collecting the funds
-Insurance repository to hold policies in electronic format will also be activated to provide such information