Bharti AXA Life Insurance undertakes new initiatives on the service front

Bharti AXA Life Insurance has added new service initiatives to assist its customers

Bharti AXA Life Insurance, the private life insurance joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and AXA, has added new service initiatives to assist its customers.

Bharti AXA Life, in October 2010, launched a service "Release of Fund Value within 48 hours of claims intimation." The new service initiative provides the customer with a guarantee that the claims will be processed on priority and aims to alleviate his fears around this process. The guarantee is further backed by a penalty of 1% of the fund value, for every day of delay that would be paid to the customers. The focus on the principal moment of truth, claim settlement, was aimed at linking Bharti AXA Life with 'trustworthiness', 'speed' and 'simplicity'.

Living up to this guarantee, as it has settled 296 claims (99.66%) and none are pending from the 301 intimations received till date. On an average, claimants have been informed about settlement through SMS with cheque numbers in 28.23 hours, while cheques have been disbursed on an average in 30.26 hours.

Bharti AXA Life has developed a customer charter that outlines the cutting edge services they offer. The first initiative under the new customer charter has been the launch of an e-Self Service module where policy holders can manage their policies online. They can check their fund values, make fund switches, pay premium, reinstate their lapsed policies and download premium receipts or fund statements. The self service module is also available for the policy holders on their mobile phones.

In addition, Bharti AXA offers a wide array of premium payment options to customers including multiple online payment options, mobile payment, payment on IVR, cash/cheque payments at branches and retail partner outlets with 1 lakh plus points of presence across the country as well as auto-debit to bank account or credit card facility.


Hassan Ali remanded in judicial custody; says he is being framed

Enforcement Directorate tells court that it has completed its questioning of the accused in an income-tax evasion and money-laundering case

Mumbai: Pune stud farm owner Hassan Ali Khan today alleged that he was receiving threats from Kolkata businessman Kashinath Tapuria, a co-accused in the money-laundering case. He said this to journalists as he was being taken away from court, after he was remanded in judicial custody till 8th April by the Sessions Court.

Mr Khan also alleged that he was being framed in the case by Mr Tapuria, his alleged associate in money-laundering activities, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) yesterday, reports PTI.

Clad in white kurta-pyjama, Mr Khan (53) was produced before principal sessions judge Swapna Joshi, who remanded him in judicial custody after ED counsel Ujjwal Nikam submitted that the directorate did not require his custody at the moment.

Mr Nikam contended that the ED reserved the right to press for Mr Khan's custody at a later date. This was opposed by Mr Khan's lawyer IP Bagadia. The judge said that this could be decided later, and that now the accused was being remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.

Mr Khan was taken into custody by the ED on 17th March, after the Supreme Court cancelled the bail granted to him by a trial court. On 21st March, the apex court ordered he remain in the custody of the ED for an additional three days.

Mr Khan faces an income-tax demand notice for up to Rs70,000 crore. The ED is said to have questioned him about his trips to various countries and his business dealings in India.

The ED had informed the apex court that it was in the possession of incriminating evidence against Mr Khan that revealed he has stashed huge amount of black money in various banks abroad. It also alleged that Mr Khan had withdrawn about $60,000 from a Swiss bank and cited communications from Swiss official sources to back its allegation.

Mr Tapuria was arrested in Mumbai yesterday after presenting himself for questioning over three days. He has denied any links with Mr Khan. He was also produced before the Sessions Court, which remanded him in ED custody till 30th March. 


Beer, whiskey to get costlier in Maharashtra

Volumes will be under pressure post the hike in excise duty by the state government. Wine sales may jump to a new high as this segment has not been touched by the Budget

If you are thinking of spending a relaxed day this summer, with a glass of beer, watching a cricket match, think twice. You could end up shelling extra bucks as the prices of beer and whiskey are likely to be increased.

In the recently announced state budget, the Maharashtra government has announced a hike in excise duty on liquor products, including country liquor, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and beer that is sold in the state.

The duty has been increased by 50% for IMFL and over 100% for beer. Accordingly, the excise duty has been hiked by Rs35/proof litre for country liquor, Rs80/proof litre for IMFL, Rs18/bulk litre for mild beer and Rs22/bulk litre for fermented beer (or beer with alcohol content higher than 5% v/v).

This hike, industry experts say, would obviously result in a rise in the prices of liquor products, because the price hike would most probably be passed on to the end customers. It would also likely impact the volumes and margins of liquor players in the state. IDFC Securities, in its event update report has stated, "The increase in duty will surely lead to a material increase in the price of liquor products in the state."

As per the same report, for the IMFL segment, the pricing impact will be sharper for lower-end brands. "Regular and economy segment brands will see a 25-35% price increase, while the impact on premium and above segments will be 10-15% (for a 750ml bottle)," it says.

On the pricing of beer post the hike, the report states, "The average price for a mild beer bottle of 650ml stands at Rs60. We estimate a 20% increase in the MRP per bottle on the back of the duty hike for mild beer. For strong beer, the pricing is estimated to range from Rs65 to Rs90 per bottle. Thus, the price increase is estimated to be to the tune of 20% for lower value strong beer and 13%-14% for the premium/ultra category."

For the beer market leader in the state, United Breweries, post the hike the volumes are expected to be impacted. The IDFC report says, "With respect to beer, the industry leader, United Breweries, Maharashtra, is the largest volume contributor and forms 17%-18% of its total volumes. Thus, we see the excise duty hike impacting volumes for UBL."

Maharashtra is estimated to contribute less than 10% to the overall IMFL industry volumes in the country. "For United Spirits the market is estimated to contribute 7%-8% to its overall volumes. Thus United Spirits is likely to see some volume pressure in the state. For Radico Khaitan, the contribution from Maharashtra is less than 3% and hence the impact would be limited," the report says.

Meanwhile, wines which got 100% exemption from excise duty in Maharashtra, expect a boost in sales. Jagdish Holkar, president of the All India Wine Producers' Association, told Moneylife, "We will definitely witness a boost in sales of wine. But our cost of production is still high and we are working on measures to reduce it so that the end consumer doesn't have to pay more."

There is also fear in the liquor industry that such a hike in excise duty will have a recurring effect and that other states might follow suit. "The event is directionally negative for the industry as other states could follow suit. The extent of excise duty pass through and corresponding volume impact in the state will be the key monitorable," the IDFC report said.


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