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Terror cases: Insurance cos to speed up payment

Last updated on: December 03, 2008 17:43 IST
With terrorist attacks getting more frequent in the country, insurance companies are introducing a mechanism for speedy processing of claims.

"In the case of the Mumbai train blasts, we had settled claims within 24 hours of receiving basic documents. We have a process of expediting claims, requiring less documentation, in the case of such natural or man-made calamities," says Gaurang Shah, managing director, Kotak Life Insurance.

"We have a range of products, all of which provide insurance cover under all circumstances, including terror attacks, but excludes suicide in the first year," he adds.

At least 183 people were killed and 295 injured in the Mumbai terror attacks at 10 places, including two five-star hotels.

Bajaj Allianz marketing head Akshay Mehrota says his company tries to settle cases within 24 hours of receiving the documentation.

"Normally, the final settlement takes a week but in such cases we ensure the cheque is delivered in 24 hours. Anyone who has suffered due to terrorist attacks can call us and get the insurance money," he says.

A leading life insurance company has recently advertised through e-mail that it has launched a speedy claims mechanism for legal heirs of those who lost their lives, by calling a toll-free number or by sending SMS. And all the processing will be done within a day.

"After 9/11, most companies refused to give cover against terrorism. General insurance companies then formed a pool, into which the premium collected by the industry was put," says Vineet Vidyarthi, principal officer, Almondz Insurance Brokers Ltd.

Vidyarthi says sometimes insurance companies deny compensation citing various terms and conditions. According to Insurance Regulation and Development Authority (IRDA) norms, general insurers should form a pool for terrorism insurance. Any terrorism-related insurance claim can be settled by using funds from this pool.

General insurers offer terror insurance as an adjunct of fire insurance. "We try to clear the account within 24 hours of the claim. And in this kind of cases, we don't even ask for death certificates," an insurance executive said.

Apart from Mumbai, in the last one year, the country has seen many terror attacks. Many people have been killed in the ghastly attacks in Assam, Malegaon, Delhi, Ahemdabad and Hyderabad.

Further, the IRDA chairman said the regulator is looking at introducing mark-to-market norms for the investment portfolio of companies.

At the same time, the regulator is also planning to put in place a data warehouse for health and transport by January next year, which will enable the industry to improve its understanding of the markets and trends. This would help improve the quality of products, he said.

When asked about job losses in the sector because of the slowdown in the economy, Hari Narayan said there are no job losses.

And, the growth in premium collection in the insurance sector is expected to go up by 17 per cent if the economy grows at 7.6 per cent during the current fiscal, he added. The economy grew by 7.8 per cent in the first half of this fiscal.

The IRDA is also considering the rationalisation of the insurance intermediary sector, and permitting the outsourcing of non-core activities.

The IRDA chief said the authority had cleared 288 new insurance products this year. These would impart flexibility and options in the choice of general insurance products.

Anurag Sharma
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