Insurance
Free-look period policy cancellation is not free

Did you know that cancelling your policy during the Free-look period has a cost attached? In case of ULIP, the NAV fluctuation is also part of this cost. But, what if the policy has been mis-sold to you? Is there any advantage in bypassing an intermediary to escape and avoid mis-selling and inaccuracies in the proposal?

Moneylife reader Ms Menon wrote to about an insurance policy sold of HDFC Life insurance that was sold to her father by a manager at one of the branches of HDFC bank, Chennai. She says the manager misrepresented the facts. “He said the policy holder would be my father and my mother would be the 1st beneficiary and I would be the 2nd beneficiary. In fact when he got the form filled, my father signed 1st, then my mother and lastly me. But when the policy documents came, I was the policyholder, my father was the beneficiary and my mother's name appeared no where”, says Ms Menon.

Ms Menon wanted to use the free-look period to cancel the policy for a full refund. “We knew that my father couldn't get a policy because he is 73 yrs of age. So he asked how it was possible to get an insurance policy at his age. They said it wasn't a problem in their bank. The sum assured was as per policy documents, Rs30 lakhs but we were told it was Rs50 lakhs. We've got the policy cancelled in the free look period by attaching a letter stating we want a full refund as this is a case of mis-representation of facts. But we've received Rs4000 less (Rs2.96 lakhs as against Rs3 lakhs that we paid as premium) Please suggest a suitable solution to this problem, whether we can get a full refund and whether some action can be taken against that bank employee.”

Why did she get Rs4000 less? During this free-look period of 15 days, the policyholder can choose to cancel the policy, change to another policy or alter the features selected in a policy. The premium refund will be adjusted for proportionate risk premium for the period on cover, expenses incurred by the insurer on medical examination and stamp duty charges. In case of ULIP, the risk of fluctuation in the NAV will be borne by the policyholder. So, if there is market crash between the time of policy issue and surrender, the policyholder will bear the risk even if the surrender is within the free-look period.

In case of mis-selling, you can compel the insurance company to repay the full amount. But, the onus is on you to prove mis-selling. Moneylife had taken up case of Arvind Injamuri, a retired ticket collector from Sholapur who was mis-sold Rs12 lakh worth ULIP by Reliance Life branch office. After a long fight, Mr Injamuri got back Rs12 lakh plus interest as there was strong proof of signature forging, inconsistent personal data in policies, dodgy witness details, wrong or unidentifiable photos, Pan card details even when it was not applied for one family member and so on.

Read - http://www.moneylife.in/article/reliance-life-ulip-mis-selling-justice-served/31172.html

http://www.moneylife.in/article/how-you-can-get-ripped-off-by-the-staff-of-insurance-company-themselves/25064.html

In the case of Ms Menon, she had not kept copy of proposal form to substantiate her claim. The policy document had her signature as policyholder. Why did she sign as policyholder when she did not intend to be policyholder? If it was not her signature, she can get a forensic/handwriting expert to confirm that the signature was forged. If true, then she would still have a case. In absence of any proof, it is a difficult case. Moneylife did contact HDFC Life.

Here is HDFC Life’s response – “In the free-look in form, the customer has mentioned the reason of cancellation as 'misrepresentation of facts' and did not reveal anything beyond. Thus, it did not trigger a complaint of mis-sell. If Kavitha Menon insists that it was a mis-sell, we request her to connect with us to register a complaint. We will investigate the case and if found any discrepancy, we would refund the remaining amount.”

Is there an advantage of bypassing intermediary such as agent or bank personnel to avoid mis-selling and inaccuracies in the proposal? Online life insurance purchase does ensure that what the customer declares is what is received by the insurance company. There is no intermediary and hence there should not be any surprises in the policy document. Even if you are buying life insurance product through an intermediary, you can ensure accuracy of the proposal form by filling it yourself and not relying on the intermediary.

The 15 day free-look period starts from the time an insurance policy reaches the buyer. It's a reasonable period for the policyholder to go through the fine print and understand the policy. But, confirm with the insurance company if they send the policy documents by post or deliver it through the intermediary in case of an offline product. If it is routed through an intermediary, you need to beware as the intermediary can delay giving you the policy documents. When you are in doubt about any product or agent, don’t buy. It’s not a limited time offer.


Unscrupulous intermediaries try to deprive the policyholders of free-look period facility. If the insurer routes the policy through intermediary, they may not give it to the customer after a long time. The intermediary has earned commission and obviously does not want it to be reversed by policyholder cancelling the policy within the free-look period. Insurance companies should be sending the policy documents by mail as it will help to validate the mailing address of the policyholder.

User

COMMENTS

Jayati Datta Gupta

1 year ago

Can you please guide with the cancellation process and the time taken ?

As per the policy instructions, I have retured the policy document with a letter of reason attached.

But there has been no progress with the cancellation. It has been almost two weeks since my cancellation.

Hoshang Solanki

3 years ago

i have been cheated thru agent of Bajaj Allianz life insurance co., he did the unfair trade practice,it was Chartered insurance Brokers Pvt.Ltd. Delhi. their representative, Uday rana, said that he is from "Bajaj Finance ltd." they offer 0% loan against the policy of Bajaj Allianz life insu. co. - Invest gain policy.
i purchased a policy on his verbal commitments, for getting 0% loan. but after purchasing policy, he constantly gave me false commitments and crossed my Free look period. then on my strong follow ups, i asked him to cancel my policy and give me full refund. then also he was continue on his false commitments that your refund will be done within 10 days.

then i have directly cancelled my policy with application to Bajaj allianz life ins. co. mentioning the fact about the fraud by Chartered insurance.

can anyone help me for this situation, i want this person to be punished & get full refund of my policy premium paid.

Vinayak

3 years ago

Never buy Reliance Life Insurance Policy. They have deducted Rs.8,000 for freelook cancellation on plicy with premium Rs.2,00,000. While submitting for cancellation they said it is just 100 or 200 for postal expense.

Aditya A

4 years ago

For this reason I have been asking HDFC Life agents to provide me the terms and conditions of final policy upfront. No body shows up after that.

DEEPAK KHEMANI

4 years ago

Bang on Raj, very well explained, Also in her case She does not need a copy of the proposal form , she will have one sent by the company with the Policy Document. Most Insurance companies do this, so that there is proof of what documents were signed by the Proposer when he/she entered in to the contract to buy the Insurance, hope this helps.

REPLY

raj

In Reply to DEEPAK KHEMANI 4 years ago

Thanks, Deepak. Ms Menon probably gave everything back when she applied for free-look cancel. She only kept copy of one page of policy. She should have kept copy of all the documents.

DEEPAK KHEMANI

In Reply to raj 4 years ago

I remember One customer had applied for cancellation on the 14th day after he recieved the policy and he got back more than what he had Invested, The market had gone up and this policy was a ULIP so he actually ended getting a higher value for the units that were allotted to him, of course he was very happy!

raj

In Reply to DEEPAK KHEMANI 4 years ago

ah..it's a case wherein even if there was mis-selling, the customer would not complaint. Better to take more than investment than only getting back your investment.

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