Marriage changes much in the lives of people. Caring for each other and managing finances become some of the most prominent concerns.

In case of health insurance policies, it is possible and often ideal to get your spouse included in the same policy. That helps manage health concerns under one policy and reduce management work on multiple fronts.

If you do not have a health insurance policy beforehand, get a family-floater plan upon marriage. It will have a floating cover that can be utilized by either partner or both (till exhausted) in a particular term should the need arise.

If you already have an individual health plan, it’s recommended to convert that to a family-floater plan by adding your partner in the same. It can easily be done by contacting the insurance company and submit KYC documents and including the marriage certificate. The policy will convert to a family-floater upon renewal and your premium will be calculated accordingly.

In case of other kinds of policy, you may want to add your spouse as a nominee. Again the way is to contact the insurance firm, fill the requisite forms and submit the required documents.

In case of many family-floater health policies, it is pre-built in the policy that one child will get covered upon birth. In case that does not apply to your plan, contact your insurance firm, and request to add the child. They always have provisions to do the same, and some simple paperwork is enough to make the modification.

A similar procedure is recommended for adding the child’s name as a nominee in any category of insurance plans that you may have.

You may sometimes feel the need to switch your insurance firm if another firm is offering a better cost-benefit ratio.

This is quite common in case of auto insurance. To a lesser extent this is exercised by people for their health insurance too. In other insurance categories generally if you want to change your provider, you may have to close and forgo the benefits of the existing insurance plans and shop for a new one.

Here is it prudent to understand what switching a policy means vis-à-vis just buying a new policy from another insurance company. Typically when switching a company, one or other benefits of your existing plan get ported to the new plan, or you get a benefit in the new plan which is typically not given to new/first time buyers of the same plan.

For example, in case of auto insurance, if you switch providers/renew with a new provider, you still are eligible to get your No Claim Bonus as may be applicable from the previous policy year with the old insurer. Your previous history plays a role in your new premium and benefits. Similarly in case of health insurance, you are eligible for reduced premiums via a No-claim bonus even on a new policy from a different firm. In case of health policies you even get the benefit of not having to go through any new waiting period when it comes to pre-existing diseases. In summary the new policy is deemed to be a continuation of your previous one, albeit with a new underwriting company.

So let us understand how you can switch your auto or health insurance policy.

Before switching it is also important to understand and analyse your motivation behind the same. Sure, the new policy may be cheaper, but does it offer the best cost-benefit ratio?

Below are a few factors you should consider. Even though these are written considering auto insurance, the factors apply to health insurance too.

  1. Consider your coverage and available options w.r.t. your insurance requirements. Are you driving an older car? In that case you may no longer need zero-depreciation or a comprehensive cover. You may opt for a higher deductible. In some cases, you may even take the bare-minimum 3rd party insurance that’s mandated by law. You may forgo your comprehensive insurance if you think paying for your old vehicle in not worth anymore. You age may also play a factor. If you are very young with minimal assets and liabilities, you need lesser cover, and vice versa. However please note that you may have to pay higher premiums if you are way too young or too old.
  2. Consider the timing of the switch. Upon renewing you policy, whether to the existing insurer or to a new one via switching, the premium is decided basis IDV, coverage, your age, your location and so on. In case you are moving to a new location, it may impact your premiums. It’s important to inquire about that.

    Also it’s prudent not to switch while in the middle of settling an accident claim. It may be troublesome to deal with to providers at the same time.

    Also if you are switching in the middle of the policy term, it may have some penalties associated. Please check and consider the cost of those.
  3. Check for deductibles: The new insurance plan that you are planning to switch to may be offering lower premiums, but compare that with the considered IDV of your vehicle and the deductible included. If the IDV in the new plan is too less, it may not be a great deal when you consider selling your vehicle at a later stage. Also lower premiums may be on account of higher deductibles. If that is the case, even though you will pay lesser premium for the new policy, you may have to pay a lot more in the unfortunate event of a claim.
  4. Check the claim settlement ratios of your options against the current one’s.
  5. Compare multiple options to figure out the best cost-benefit advantage, considering the factors of deductibles, IDV, requirement for comprehensive or zero-depreciation coverage, cashless claim option etc.
  6. You should also check with your existing provider if they can offer you a better deal. If they do, it may save you much effort.
  7. At the end, should you definitely switch, renew your insurance with a new provider a little before the previous one expires, in order to ensure that you do not expose yourself to the chance of being without insurance even if for a few days. Thereafter make sure the previous one does not get automatically renewed.
  8. Most cases, you can renew your policy with the new provider yourself on their website. There would be an option to renew existing policy from another provider. In case you need assistance, just call you’re your new insurance firm of choice and they will be happy to help you through this.

Sometimes you may want to foreclose your policy. It can be either because you realize the policy is not right for you, or because you may be in a need to get your money back for some purpose.

In case of investment oriented policies such as endowment or money-back policies, the investment component adds up during the term of the policy as it progresses. After an initial waiting period (typically 3 years of regular premium payments) you are allowed to foreclose/surrender the policy and receive the surrender value as compensation. However typically the surrender value is relatively lower compared to the actual value or maturity value of the policy. So this option should be exercised only if absolutely necessary.

The process is fairly simple. You need to connect with your advisor or the insurance firm’s customer service and complete the formalities such as consent and withdrawal forms. Please contact your insurance provider for details regarding your policy.

If you are not happy with your current agent, you can change to a new agent at the time of renewal. Once your new agent agrees to work with you on the policy, typically you just need to share a letter with the insurer asking them to change to the new agent and provide the agent’s identification number and other details.

There are multiple ways of making insurance premiums. Traditionally premiums have been paid via issuing a cheque in the name of the insurance firm (sometimes in the name of your policy number). At times, esp. in rural and semi-urban areas, insurance agents offer to make the payment to the insurance firm on the clients behalf, and accepts cash from the client.

Since the advent of the internet era, things have changed quite a bit, and many people prefer to make premium payments online, esp. in case of renewals.. Every insurer in India has an option to buy/renew insurance policies on their client website. You can make payments using most digital modes including credit cards, debit cards, UPI, e-wallets and netbanking etc.

Most health insurance policies are serviced by Third-party Administrators (TPAs). Every year the insurer will inform you about the TPA they have appointed for you. Keep their details handy. Typically the TPAs will also mail you your identification cards that can be utilized to initiate insurance proceedings during hospitalization.

If you know the name of your TPA, you can contact them with the details provided in the following list (as available on the IRDAI website): Find your insurance agent / TPA

Most insurance policies have been held in paper form since the advent of the industry. Very recently, govt has taken steps to make a few policies stored and accessible in demat demat insurance form pageformats. However this practice is still not widespread. So we will focus on how to get duplicate physical copies of insurance policies.

Since insurance policies esp. investment oriented ones can be used as collaterals for loans, and also otherwise have financial value, they must be stored securely. Many insurance firms require submission of original physical copies for claims.

However if you happen to lose your policy papers, there are ways to get a duplicate one issued. But it may not be very simple. So utmost care must be taken in storing the copies securely. In case you have misplaced the papers, please search exhaustively before planning to request for a duplicate.

Different companies may have slightly different procedures. But they have many processes in common. LIC of India mandates the following:

  1. File an FIR regarding the loss of your policy document
  2. Submit an application with your insurance provider along with a copy of the FIR
  3. Carry an advertisement in an English daily newspaper in your state of residence at your own cost
  4. Send a copy of this newspaper to the servicing office of the insurer one month after the appearance of the advertisement
  5. The insurer may ask for indemnity bond and payment for issuing a duplicate copy after verifying the compliance details and if no objection has been filed with the insurer regarding the policy in question. In a successful scenario, they will then issue the duplicate policy
  6. However, the requirement of advertisement and Indemnity Bond may be waived off or modified in certain cases such as:
    1. loss of policy document due to theft
    2. destruction of policy document due to fire
    3. loss of policy document while in custody of an office of government
    4. mutilated or damaged policy document
    5. policy document is torn and/or a part of it is missing
    6. policy document is partially destroyed by white ants

How to keep insurance in demat form? Or How to get an e-Insurance account?

The government took the initiative a few years back to let insurance policies be held in a dematerialized form, just like shares of companies. The IRDAU authorised four nodal agencies to set up and allot e-insurance accounts to consumers:

  • NSDL Database Management Limited
  • CDSL Insurance Repository Limited
  • Karvy Insurance Repository Limited
  • CAMS Repository Services Limited

The product in question is known as an e-Insurance Account (eIA). Once you have opened an eIA (it’s free) with one the above Insurance Repositories, you can add your existing life insurance policies (from insurance firms that have migrated to the platform already) to your eIA.

Benefits of holding your life insurance policies in an eIA are:

  • You don’t need to keep physical copies and hence no fear of losing them
  • You can view and manage all your life insurance policies under one account, so no hassles in managing multiple accounts with multiple companies
  • Once you have submitted your KYC while opening the eIA, you do not need to furnish KYC for future life insurance purchases
  • Changes in contact details in your eIA will change the same automatically with all your linked policies, thus saving you much time and effort

How to open eIA?

Step 1: Download eIA opening form of your preferred Insurance Repository from the one of the following links:

Step 2: Follow the instructions given on the respective repository’s web page form. Fill the same, and attach self-attested copies of below mention required documents:

  • PAN or UID card
  • Address proof
  • DOB proof
  • Cancelled cheque
  • Any other document that may be asked by individual repositories

Step 3: Submit the forms along with self-attested documents to your nearest collection centre as advised by the repository.

They will likely create your account and notify you via email and a letter in 7-10 business days from the date of submission.

Note: The insurance repositories may change the procedure from time to time. It’s best to follow the steps given on their respective websites. The information presented here is indicative and for your general understanding.

If you have a grievance against your insurance provider, it is advisable that you contact their grievance/customer support cell first. If you do not receive adequate support, you may choose to escalate the matter to IRDAI.

List and contact details of Grievance cells of all insurance companies as maintained and retrieved from IRDAI website: click here

You should:

  • Write to the grievance cell of the insurance firm with your complaint,
  • Attach the required documents, and
  • Take a written acknowledgement of the complaint

In the event that the issue is not resolved by the insurance firm within 15 days, or if you are unhappy with the resolution provided, you can reach out to the Grievance Redressal Cell of the Consumer Affairs Department of IRDAI:

  • Make use of IRDAI's online portal - Integrated Grievance Management System (IGMS):
  • Send a letter to IRDAI with your complaint to:

    Consumer Affairs Department- Grievance Redressal Cell, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India(IRDAI), Sy.No.115/1,Financial District, Nanakramguda, Gachibowli, Hyderabad-500032

The process to apply for claim may vary by policy type and insurance provider.
Below is a generic process that is followed by almost all insurance firms with minor variations.

Death Claims:

In the unfortunate event of the death of the policyholder, their nominee, or a family member or their insurance agent must file a claim as soon as possible.

The claim intimation letter to the insurer should include:

  • Date, place & time of death
  • Cause of death

Once the claim intimation letter is received by the insurer, they will ask for:

  • A completed insurance claim form, that they will provide
  • Death Certificate
  • Policy document
  • Deeds of assignments/ re-assignments if any
  • Legal evidence of title, if the policy is not assigned or nominated
  • Form of discharge executed and witnessed
  • Additionally, other optional documents may also be asked for:
    • Medical attendant’s certificate
    • Hospital certificate
    • Employer’s certificate
    • Police report (if applicable)
    • Post mortem report etc.

Upon processing the insured amount will be released to the nominee/assignee.

In case of a life insurance policy maturing, the insurer will send an intimation letter to the policyholder, along with a discharge voucher at least 2-3 months prior to the policy maturity date

The policyholder needs to sign the discharge voucher, along with the signature of a witness, and send it back to the insurance firm , along with the original policy document. Do not forget to make a copy of all of this before you send out the originals.

Upon processing, the insurance firm will release the amount to the assignee.

Non-life claimsv

Auto insurance claims:

A claim under auto insurance could be in either or both of these categories:

  • 3rd-party claim: This pertains to personal injury or property damage to someone else. This type of cover is mandatory to have
  • 1st party/own claim: This pertains to damage to your own insured vehicle. This is applicable only of you have taken a comprehensive policy for your vehicle

3rd-Party claim: In a 3rd-party claim, if you vehicle is involved, please report the accident immediately to the police as well as your insurer. They will reach out to you and make the necessary provisions post the required paperwork.

In case, you are the victim with someone else’s vehicle, take their insurance details and contact their insurance company immediately.

1st-Party/own damage claim: In case where you own vehicle is damaged, inform the police (if required basis the severity of the accident) and your insurer immediately.

Wait for police and/or insurance company’s advice before moving the vehicle from the accident spot.

If you have a cashless policy, your insurance company will take care of the payments directly to the garage. If not, they will reimburse you against producing the actual bill from the garage, subject to deductibles and other conditions.

In case your vehicle gets stolen, inform the police, the insurance company as well as your local transport department office. You may need to fill the requisite forms, and submit the vehicle keys along with other documents, with the insurer in order to make a claim.
Health Insurance Claims

Your health insurance claim can settled in either of the following ways depending on the kind of policy you have:

  • Cashless basis
  • Reimbursement basis

Cashless basis: In order to avail the cash claim facility, you must avail treatment at a network hospital of your designated TPA (Third Party Administrator). The hospital insurance department typically will facilitate the application process with your TPA and will confirm once the claim is approved. Once approved the insurance firm will directly settle the bills (subject to coverage and deductibles) with the hospital via the TPA.

Reimbursement basis: In case you do not have a cashless settlement facility on your policy, or if you choose to get treatment at a non-network hospital (as per your TPAs list), you will have to settle the bills yourself with the hospital. Inform your insurer/TPA immediately upon getting admitted, and fulfil the requisite process of filling forms, submitting required documents etc. Upon discharge, you would be required to submit all the bills, discharge summary, prescriptions etc. with the TPA/insurer, who will reimburse your cost subject to T&Cs and deductibles.

Property insurance can take many forms. It could be for your house, or household goods being transported etc.

In the case of a claim situation arising, please read the Warranties and Conditions of your policy document and proceed as advised. Typically losses due to theft, fire or natural calamities may also require a police report.

Travel insurance policies are package policies which cover multiple facets while you are travelling out of your home country. They typically cover:

  • Medical costs while on travel, including but not limited to hospitalization
  • Personal accident
  • Loss/damage of baggage
  • Loss of passport etc.

The coverage for the above mentioned may vary from policy to policy. So it is advisable to read your policy document beforehand and make a note of the coverage and procedures.

Depending on the policy, in case of a claim scenario, you may need to reach out to their representative in the country of travel or another country. Keep a list of required documents and keep them handy as and when required by the insurer.