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Ref. No. KLI/22-23/E-BB/492
In a significant move to enhance insurance penetration in rural India, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has announced its plan to deploy Bima Vahaks in every gram panchayat by December 31, 2024. This initiative addresses the long-standing issue of low insurance penetration in rural India, where a significant portion of the population remains uninsured.
The Bima Vahak initiative aims to develop insurance awareness and accessibility in every Gram Panchayat, reaching every corner of the country. It will identify and develop local resources, particularly women, who understand and cater to the unique needs of their communities. These trusted intermediaries will be crucial in distributing and servicing insurance products, fostering financial inclusion, and empowering rural populations.
Also Read: What is IRDA?
Rural India faces several challenges in accessing insurance products. These include:
Rural areas are often far away from urban centers, making it difficult for insurance providers to reach potential customers.
Many rural residents are unaware of the benefits of insurance and the various products available.
Literacy rates in rural areas are often lower than in urban areas, making understanding insurance policies and documents challenging.
Corporate Bima Vahak will be an officially registered legal entity in India, authorized by an insurer under Bima Vahak guidelines to act as an insurance intermediary. At the same time, individual Bima Vahak will denote an individual authorized to act as an insurance intermediary, either directly appointed by an insurer or indirectly appointed through a Corporate Bima Vahak.
Bima Vahaks will play a crucial role in overcoming challenges like lack of awareness and low literacy levels among rural populations and expanding insurance penetration in rural India. The responsibilities of Individual and Corporate Bima Vahaks may encompass the following:
Bima Vahaks will collect and process proposal forms, ensuring the accuracy and wholeness of customer information.
Bima Vahaks will assist customers in fulfilling Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and submitting necessary documents to verify their identity and address.
Bima Vahaks will support and coordinate policy-related matters, including policy issuance, renewals, and modifications. Additionally, they will assist customers with claims filing, documentation, and tracking to ensure a seamless claims settlement process.
To ensure the effectiveness of the Bima Vahak initiative, IRDAI has issued comprehensive guidelines outlining the eligibility criteria, responsibilities, and training requirements for Bima Vahaks. These guidelines emphasize the importance of appointing individuals who are well-versed in the local language and customs, possess good communication skills, and have a positive reputation within the community.
The deployment of Bima Vahaks is expected to have a significant positive impact on rural India by:
Bima Vahaks will make insurance products more accessible and understandable to rural residents, increasing insurance uptake.
Insurance coverage can protect rural households financially against unforeseen events such as accidents, natural disasters, and illnesses.
By facilitating access to insurance, Bima Vahaks can contribute to the broader goal of financial inclusion in rural India.
IRDAI’s initiative to deploy Bima Vahaks in every gram panchayat by December 31, 2024, is a commendable step towards bridging the insurance gap between rural and urban India. By leveraging the expertise and local insights of Bima Vahaks, IRDAI aims to make insurance a more accessible and integral part of the lives of rural residents, empowering them to manage their financial risks better and safeguard their well-being.
Ref. No. KLI/22-23/E-BB/2435