As COVID-19 (popularly known as Coronavirus) takes most part of the world by storm, the central and state governments in India are taking measures such as suspending flights, locking down states and imposing curfews to combat the spread of the virus. In order to ensure policyholders are not hit by these measures, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has suggested alternate methods for insurers to continue servicing their customers. The regulator has asked life insurance companies to allow a one month extension on premiums due in the month of March 2020.
"This will give some relief to policyholders in these trying times where several states are locked down and could disturb operations of insurers, intermediaries, and distributors. Due to Covid-19, for customers who cannot pay online or are already panicked and stressed, this move will bring some respite," said Rakesh Goyal, director, Probus Insurance, an insurtech broking company.
Health insurers have been asked to accept a delay in policy renewals up to 30 days without deeming the same as a break in policy. Companies have been asked to contact policyholders about this well in advance to ensure there is no discontinuance in coverage. "This is a big help for policyholders who are stressed about missing the renewal date and worry that they may not be able to file a claims in case of medical emergencies," added Goyal.
All general, health and life insurance companies have been asked to display information on functioning of their offices and alternate arrangements made by the insurers for premium payments, renewals, claim settlement, grievance submission among others on their websites. In cases where offices are not functioning (fully or partially) the policyholders shall be notified by SMSes, e-mails,and press release in addition to display boards/pamphlets in the brand offices. Call centres, if, possible and necessary, have been asked to function to help policyholders during these trying times.
For claims received with regard to COVID-19, life insurers have been asked to settle them expeditiously by developing faster claim settlement processes to provide immediate help to the affected policyholders and their dependents. Companies have been asked to provide information on the admissibility of COVID-19 death claims on their respective websites for all products. In case of health insurance contracts too, specific product-wise information regarding admissibility has to be displayed on the insurer’s website. Irdai has also asked insurers to submit a fortnightly report to the authority on settlement of claims related to COVID-19.