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Ref. No. KLI/22-23/E-BB/492
Death due to COVID-19 covered under term policy, issuing term insurance via telemedicine, e-KYC, and buying term policy using OTP are some of the changes in the term insurance industry.
There was a certain status quo in place before the year 2020 which had been going on for quite a while. Even within the finance sector and the insurance sector, everything was followed via a certain procedure. But then the COVID-19 pandemic stuck in early 2020 and everything that we knew changed forever.
We could say that even in these unfortunate circumstances, one change that was for the good of society was the digitization of services. Since no one could step out and physically perform tasks, the onus was on the service providers to make their services available on a digital platform.
The insurance sector in India, too, took a similar path when the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India brought up regulations to make it safer and easier for policy buyers to gain access to insurance products using electronic means. They also made certain clarifications regarding policy coverage with respect to the Covid-19 situation.
Let us look at some IRDAI regulations that, more or less, changed the face of the term insurance industry in 2020 by going completely towards a digital route.
When the pandemic struck, there was some confusion regarding term policy cover with respect to death due to COVID-19. Since this was a new disease, policyholders were confused whether the beneficiary would get the assured sum if death occurred due to complications from COVID-19. The IRDAI immediately came out and clarified that death due to COVID-19 would, in fact, be covered by existing term insurance policies.
This means that if a policyholder dies due to COVID-19, the beneficiary has full right to claim the policy. No insurer can reject a term policy claim citing death due to COVID-19 as a reason for rejection.
Previously, an important step of the term insurance procedure was the medical test that every policy buyer had to undergo to detect critical illnesses that may impact the policy. But when the pandemic began, people were reluctant to step out of their homes and visit medical centres in fear of contracting the virus. The IRDAI again stepped in and allowed for issuance of term plans based on a telemedical check-up.
This meant that policy buyers could get their medical check-up done via video and tele consultations from their homes.
The IRDAI also brought in document verification using a completely paperless system for term insurance. Now policy buyers only had to submit their Aadhaar numbers and the authentication for eKYC would be done using the same. This would mean that physical copies of Address and ID proof will no longer be required.
Where previously a face to face meeting was necessary to negotiate and agree to terms and conditions of a term plan, now in an effort to reduce human contact, the IRDAI allowed policy buyers to authenticate details of the policy using an OTP system. The insurers can now send links to the buyers and the buyers can input the OTP to authenticate. Essentially, OTPs have replaced traditional signatures in this regard.
The IRDAI, thus, has really smoothened the process of insurance buying in these tough times. With these regulations, policy buyers can easily and conveniently purchase policies without any fears.
Ref. No. KLI/22-23/E-BB/2435