IRDA has asked insurance firms to pay claims, even if they are submitted late due to genuine reasons. The intention is noble, but don’t lose sight of the ground realities of claims rejection, and the absence of penalty for insurers
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) circular to life and non-life companies asking them not to reject claims on technical grounds of delay in filing may come as a relief to policyholders. But keep this fact in mind —the primary target for this circular is mediclaim insurers, some of whom have stringent filing deadlines. There have been a number of complaints to IRDA of rejection of claims that are genuine. Various media reports have been published that indicate that insurance companies can't refuse a claim, even if the request comes in late. Obviously, these articles may make readers feel that all the problems of stringent deadlines imposed by mediclaim insurers will be solved. However, if you make a late filing of your claim, you'll be doing so at your own risk.
Some insurance companies have been stringent about hospitalisation intimation, and claims filing, by imposing unrealistic deadlines. These 'tight' norms have been formulated under the garb of protection against mediclaim 'fraud'. On the other hand, insurers don't have any deadline for payment of claims. The customer is the one who gets hit by such a one-sided contract.
Genuine customers who have been paying premiums consistently every year for decades, have also been at the receiving end with outright claims rejection.
Moneylife has reported on numerous such cases. Claims have sometimes been tossed around in different offices of an insurance company for almost six months—in some cases, customers only end up getting the thumbs-down to their request.
If the policyholder believes that the IRDA circular will change the ground reality, it's time he does a rethink. For starters, there is no penalty for the insurance company if claims are rejected on a mechanical basis on the grounds of late filing. There is also no incentive for the higher authorities in insurance companies to accept genuine claims. On the contrary, the incentive is for some TPAs (Third Party Administrators) and insurers to keep the claims ratio low, and let the insured approach the Ombudsman or a consumer court.
This is possible only if customers are capable of taking the fight to the next level. But most of the insured don't do it—either because they cannot physically handle extensive litigation, or because they don't have the financial wherewithal for the battle—and they let go of the fight. Those who want to fight have to spend one to three years to get any result, favourable or otherwise. This end-result may be achieved after a huge gap of two to four years from the initial filing of the claim. In such cases, where the onus is clearly on the insured, the insurance company stands to benefit.
The Insurance Ombudsman has been helpless in these cases till now, as the timelines are specified in the insurance policy document in fine print-often overlooked by the policyholder or glossed over by the insurance agent. Will the IRDA circular give the Ombudsman the authority to overturn the insurance contract's wordings? This is something that can be inferred only over a period of time.
Even though the problems detailed above may not applicable to all insurers, claim-filers have to be aware of these stipulations, rather than be sorry later. Justice may not be served easily—and, as the dictum goes, justice delayed is justice denied—especially in the case of insurance claims. Of course, redressal may eventually come about, but it may take many years before you get it. Therefore, it's better that you file your mediclaim hospitalisation intimation and claims on time, rather than expecting speedy redressal because of the IRDA diktat. Caveat emptor should be the guiding policy—and mediclaim is certainly not a contract you can experiment with.
The stock has taken a beating and die-hard Apple fans are not very enthused by the latest offering. It might be time for Apple to go back to the drawing board
Amidst much frenzy and fanfare, Apple's new CEO Timothy Cook took centre-stage at 10:00AM local time inside the town hall in Cupertino, even as doting fans inundated Apple's website till they brought it down to its knees.
Unfortunately though, Mr Cook did not have enough brewing in the kitchen to make his fans wobbly in the knees. The much anticipated fifth-generation iPhone turned out to be an upgrade of the iPhone 4. As Shakespeare would say, "Oft expectation fails, and most oft where most it promises; and oft it hits where hope is coldest; and despair most sits."
The iPhone 4S will go on sale on 14th October in three variants—16GB, 32GB and 64GB, with two-year contracts on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in the USA. The phone will debut in over 25 countries by the end of this month. There is no word yet on when the phone might be available in India. Apple announced that about 70 other countries will have the instrument on sale before the year is out.
Instead of altering the form of the phone, Apple chose to focus on the innards— the 4S will sport the A5, the same chip that drives the iPad 2. Apple claims that the chip will help the 4S achieve twice the CPU speed of its predecessor and the dual-core graphics chip will enable 7 times better performance with graphics enriching the multimedia experience for users. And unlike the iPhone 4 which was either GSM or CDMA, the new version is a dual-band global phone which means it will work on both networks.
The 4S will run on iOS 5, Apple's new mobile operating system with cutting-edge messaging and data synchronisation capabilities that seek to leverage the iCloud and create a seamless experience for customers across Apple's various device forms. Apple also integrated Siri, the company it acquired last year, to offer a voice-enabled personal assistant that is capable of taking notes, managing a calendar and even checking the weather or stock markets for its master.
And then there is the camera—it is an 8 megapixel beast with a backside illuminated (BSI) complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) sensor. BSI sensors are low light optimised, helping them deliver quality images even when the general light condition is poor. The camera also has a wide aperture of f2.4 and good shutter speed, making clicking a breeze. Users can click pictures even when the phone is locked; Apple claims that the first picture can be shot in 1.1 seconds and the next in just 0.5 seconds. With the resolution set at 3264 x 2448, you can expect 30% sharper images than from the previous version. The 4S is also capable of HD 1080p video.
But all of this failed to excite the market—at one stage Apple shares fell $19.25 to $356.14 before recovering to close at $372.50, a fall of $2.10 from Tuesday. There were mixed reactions from analysts—Colin Gillis of BGC Partners said, "It's been 16 months and all you've got is an A5 processor in the existing iPhone 4. It's a mild disappointment, but they're still going to be selling millions of units."
Piper Jaffrey, the analyst firm estimates that Apple will sell over 25 million units in the final quarter of 2011. Apple is also looking outward as it seeks to capitalise on growing markets such as China, India, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. But there is growing competition from handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC Slide in particular, and the Android platform in general. At the moment, Android handsets are outselling the iPhone two to one. In this scenario it is baffling why Apple did not make 4S compatible with 4G, as is the case with S II, for instance.
There is no doubt that there is enough demand in the US and globally for Apple to once again sell a large number of these phones. But by most accounts and the lofty standards set by Apple, this event in Cupertino failed to meet expectations. The device may be quick and nimble, but the iPhone has many worthy competitors. Now the legions of people, who follow Apple's every move with a cult-like madness and place it on a pedestal, will wait in anticipation for a product that can spin them into an exclusive orbit. For now, they will have to co-exist with the growing flock of mortals who are getting cosy with Android.
The convenor of the RTI Forum for Instant Information will hold a series of lectures to commemorate the Information Week that is celebrated every year
Vinita Deshmukh, senior journalist and RTI (Right to Information) activist will hold three lectures-cum-workshops in three colleges between 10th October and 12th October at the Goa College of Home Science, Goa and GVM's Bed College and Goa Polytechnic College, Althino. The topic is will be 'Empower yourself with the knowledge and use of RTI'. She will give a concluding public lecture at the Goa State Museum on 'Role of Citizen Participation in the RTI movement.' India Against Corruption and Swabhiman Trust have invited her on 11th October to speak on the 'Role of RTI in removing corruption.' This will be presided by a workshop for citizens on the use of RTI.
Ms Deshmukh has highlighted the irregularities in the Dow Chemical Plant project in Pune which ultimately had to withdraw its project from Pune district. She had procured vital information through inspection of files under Section (4) of the RTI Act. She had found details through inspection of files under the Section of the same Act regarding toll tax charges being collected by Ideal Road Builders, the agency that maintains the Pune-Mumbai Expressway.
She has received the invitation for these RTI workshops from the Goa government, Directorate of Art and Culture, Panaji, Goa.