Today, in India and all across the world, the use of internet and mobile phones has witnessed significant growth. This has enabled us to reach out to a larger audience and bridge the gap between rural and urban or if we may say India and Bharat.
Most of us believe that technology is only for the urban educated consumers; however, we have observed that with the advent of social media, e-commerce sites and convenience services, more and more Indians are getting digitally savvy. Today most of the financial products are already high on the technology curve – be it equities market, mutual funds, banking transactions or even NPS. These are all available only in the electronic platform.
The Digital India campaign that was launched by the government has given insurance companies a huge opportunity to ride on. The use of technology should benefit all parts of the ecosystem. An insurer would benefit from lower cost of operations, innovation and customisation of insurance products; while the distributor would benefit from simplification of KYC and the policy holder gets an enhanced purchase and post purchase experience.
Similarly e-Insurance is not just about the opportunity to buy insurance through an electronic channel. An insurance repository is a place where a customer can keep their insurance policies in electronic form. Just like you keep your money in a bank account (or shares in a demat account), you can open an electronic Insurance Account (e-IA) with a repository which will ‘credit’ your policy in it. Thereafter, you will not need to hold the physical paper documents and all subsequent transactions from renewal to claim settlement will be done through your e-IA. Currently, IRDAI has permitted six firms to become Insurance Repositories giving customers the option to select the repository of their choice.
There are multiple benefits in holding insurance policies in electronic form under a single e-Insurance Account (e-IA).
There is no risk of loss or damage of a policy as may happen with paper policies; the electronic form ensures that the policies are in safe custody and can be easily accessed when needed.
You can keep all your policies (currently, only life, not general), even from multiple insurers, in a single e-IA. While creating the account for the first time, is when you need to fulfil the KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements. Any subsequent change in KYC details, bank account, nomination, etc. can be updated through the repository and not to each insurer.
Opening an e- IA is free for a customer. The repositories get paid by the insurers who meet this cost out of savings from issuing paperless policies.
All service requests or any of the electronic policies held under the e-IA can be submitted at any of the repository’s service points – there is no need to go to the offices of individual insurance companies for service. The details of any of the policies can be accessed at any time by logging on to the online portal of repositories. Premium for all the policies can be paid online and many service requests or complaints can be logged at this website.
It is easy to add a new policy to your account. All you need to do is quote your e-IA number in the proposal form and your new policy gets added directly and immediately on the day of issuance.
Although opening an e-IA is not mandatory at present, it makes immense sense to do it. With both the government as well as the regulator supporting this initiative, the insurance industry is well poised for exponential growth by adopting e-insurance. So, get going and get electronic!