The Banking Ombudsman might be spending more time in rejecting rather than looking into...
Although the next general elections for the government at the Centre is due in 2014, the UPA...
More and more insurance companies are getting hold of your personal details
Recently a Moneylife reader started receiving calls from number 30247032 in Mumbai claiming to be from Kotak Life Insurance’s office in Malad (Mumbai). The caller stated that Kotak Smart Advantage ULIP is being discontinued, but they are unable to send a letter to everyone as there are over five lakh customers. The caller had all the policy details including the latest fund value. The caller assured the reader all the necessary help to surrender the policy after receiving annual policy premium of Rs25,000.
A call to Kotak Life by the Moneylife reader revealed that the product as well as policy is still active. It did comfort him, but the calls just kept coming periodically. The caller began saying that if the policyholder gets into trouble he will not be able to help to recover the surrender value at that stage. The policyholder was mentally aggravated and was tempted to stop the ECS payment for one month just to see if the “real” Kotak Life Insurance calls him. After we heard from the policyholder, we told him not to stop the ECS payment.
People get hounded by calls from insurance companies once they buy a policy. But it is alarming when you start getting calls from dubious agencies which have your personal details and egg you on to surrender your policy or dictate you to do some other things which suit their interests. It was hard for the Moneylife reader to believe that the calls may not be from the insurance company as the caller knew all the policy details, including the fund value. Moreover, the reason to surrender may seem genuine for those who are not insurance savvy—the product is getting discontinued.
It is important to note the following:
• Even if IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) were to discontinue any product, the existing policyholders are protected and the insurance company cannot force them to surrender the policy
• It is always better to contact the insurance company on the official number or email and hear what they have to say
• Do not make a premium payment to anyone other than authorised intermediary or directly to insurance company. It is advisable to write the policy number on the cheque and get acknowledgement of the cheque receipt for a specific policy. In many instances dubious agencies route the premium to open a new policy for gaining upfront commission which will even include forging your signature.
Moneylife did call the so-called Kotak office. The reception desk confirmed the number. They asked if we received a call from anyone about the policy and if so, to give them the policy number so that the right person will call back. We asked to speak with a person called Mahajan. The receptionist stated that there are multiple people with same name and hence the right person shall call back after sometime. We never received the call and now the number is perpetually engaged. They may have found that it was a call from the media.
Another Moneylife reader keeps getting calls from ICICI Pru Life almost once in a week just because he had purchased a ULIP policy in 2007. The pitch is different every time. Either its a new product, new financial manager assigned or some offer for being an existing customer. It is an irritant, but the reader can deal with it by banging down the phone. What caught his attention was call from someone claiming to be from Birla Sunlife pitching for its product.
This Moneylife reader does not have any Birla Sunlife policy. Some queries revealed that caller knew the name and phone number. The answer to how they got the information generated a standard answer that it is on the LIC database. How it magically appeared on their database is a mystery. Moreover, these unsolicited calls come even if your mobile number is on the “do-not-call” list and even on a direct phone line at a work place. According to Kotak Life Insurance, there is no sharing of database between insurance companies. While it may be true, it does not explain all the different calls received from entities that should not have access to your personal information.
One Kotak Life policyholder got a call which claimed to be from the insurance company about problem with the ECS payment. After taking the necessary steps to make the payment, the policyholder called back the number. It turned out to be the broking company which posed as an insurance company representative. The broker had made the call due to its interest in the renewal commission. Just because the caller says it is from insurance company, you cannot ascertain who is making the calls.
It’s amazing how competing insurance companies come to know that your car insurance is due for renewal. You may get a phone call or text messages urging you to switch insurance companies. Mediclaim and car insurance are yearly contracts and aggressive marketing is a norm. One interesting text message we received for car insurance was from someone selling ICICI Lombard products. It stated that they have “mouthwashing” insurance offer. Are they selling toothpaste or mouthwash instead of car insurance?
One Moneylife reader gets ECS payment reminders by email from Birla SunLife Insurance. The nuisance is that the customer’s full bank account number is in the emails, which is a security risk. It is a lax approach by the insurance company as it is better to not spell out the bank account number or mask most of the digits.