Get ready: Paperless insurance is coming to you
e Insurance will soon become a reality. Your insurance policy document will become digital and paperless like shares in 2014 and the policyholders would be saved from preserving the physical copies of their insurance policies.
The Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) is likely to announce the roadmap to make it mandatory, by which insurance companies would have to compulsorily issue policies to their customers only in electronic form.
Initially the polices where annualised premium is greater than Rs 25,000 or the premium paying term is greater than 10 years would be offered in electronic form.
This applies to both life and general insurance policies. Soon even micro insurance policies issued through CSC would be available in electronic form.
Considering this change, it is important to understand what an Insurance Repository is, how to open an e Insurance Account, conversion of physical policy into an e-policy and benefits associated with it.
‘Insurance Repository’ is a company formed and registered under the Companies Act 1956 and which has been granted a certificate of registration by Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) for maintaining data of insurance policies in electronic form on behalf of insurers.
IRDA has licensed CAMS Repository Services Ltd,( CAMSRep), NSDL Database Management Ltd, SHCIL Projects Ltd, Central Insurance Repository Ltd and Karvy Insurance Repository Ltd to act as insurance repositories.
To prepare yourself for an age of paperless insurance policies here’s is what you must know:
e Insurance Account (e IA)
A policyholder needs to open an e Insurance Account with one of the Insurance Repositories to be able to buy and keep policies in electronic mode.
An individual can have only one e IA with any one of the Insurance Repositories. Once an e IA is opened, the account holder can buy and keep all her/his electronic insurance policies -- be it life, pension, health or general -- issued by various insurers under this single account.
A significant difference between a demat account for shares and e IA is that opening and maintaining an e IA is absolutely free to the policyholder.
Request for conversion of paper policies into e -policy can be submitted along with the e IA opening forms.
Alternately one can open an e IA and quote the e IA number when buying new policies.
The policyholder can convert her/his current physical policy into an e-policy by submitting the conversion forms to Insurance Repository or Insurance Company or Agent.
Some of the key benefits of holding insurance policies in electronic form are:
There is no risk of loss or damage of a policy as is common with paper policies; the electronic form ensures that the policies are in safe custody and can be easily accessed whenever and wherever needed.
A copy of the policy can be downloaded at any time by accessing the e-Insuance Account.
All Insurance policies, be it life, pension, health or general, can be electronically held under a single e-Insuance Account. This means all details of all policies are available in a single account allowing one view and convenient management.
Single Point of Service
Service requests in respect of e-Insuance Account or any of the electronic policy can be submitted at any of Insurance Repository’s service points. The IR will in turn advise the insurance companies, saving the policyholder efforts to reach out to the insurer separately.
An e-Insurance Account holder is free from the trouble of submitting KYC details each time a new policy is taken. Further, any changes in personal details like address or contact number can be effected through a single request thus saving on paper and time.
Statement of Account
At least once every year, the Insurance Repository would send a statement of account to the e-Insurance Account holder with the details of all the e-policies held in the account.
Premium for all the policies can be paid online and several service requests can be logged from the e-Insurance Account.
Increased number of service touch points
Some of the Insurance Repositories have a vast network of service centers. These centers will serve as touch points for the policyholders to have their service needs attended.
Policy benefits would be paid through electronic facility to the registered bank account, thus ensuring safe, fast and sure settlement.
The policyholder can register an Authorised Person to access e Insurance Account in the instance of an unfortunate event to the policyholder. The Authorised Person can access the e Insurance Account to have a single view of all e-policies of the policyholder and reach out to the IR for follow-up action.
All these benefits are offered free to the policyholder in addition to opening and maintaining an e Insurance Account and converting paper policy to e-policy. There is no fine print or catch regarding the cost to the policyholder, as the IR is paid by the insurance companies.
Every Insurance Repository will have a policyholders’ grievances cell to address the grievances in respect of repository services and electronic policies held by them.
IR and e-policy concept is a path breaking initiative from IRDA bringing and is a win-win to all stake-holders viz. policyholders, insurance companies, agents and the IRDA.
Photographs: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com