Insurance
LIC agents’ last hullabol for selling traditional products before service tax regime

Traditional insurance products are set for a makeover from October. While there are some positives with new regulations, insurance agents are mis-selling existing products as a limited time opportunity. LIC agents have an additional incentive of service tax levy to push products before the deadline

From October 2013, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) will charge policyholders service tax on the premium of traditional products. Until now, this tax was absorbed by the insurer. The service tax for traditional products is 3.09% of the first-year premium and 1.545% in subsequent years. In a recent announcement, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) mandated that service tax will not be included in the contractual premium, but it is to be collected from policyholders separately. It is expected, that with service tax being charged separately from the policyholder, the bonus on the product would improve. But, LIC agents are using the service tax levy as an excuse to push sales before the October 2013 deadline.
 

Today, LIC agents are just as busy as they are during the tax-savings season due to additional reason i.e. existing traditional products will be discontinued after September 2013. While there are some positives for customers with new regulations like higher surrender value, lower agent commission and better insurance cover, agents are mis-selling existing traditional products as a limited time opportunity. An insurance agent of any company trying to shove life insurance policy, as a deal worth grabbing, is only talking baloney. After all, reduced agent commissions next month cannot be something agents look forward to.
 

According to one ethical LIC agent, “There is confusion among agents and hence the strategy is to go for the kill as they are unsure about their effectiveness to sell new traditional products next month. Moreover, we don’t know about the new products LIC has lined-up. But, if I hard-sell to my customers today, then how do I sell them products next month?”
 

Life Insurance Council, the industry body of life insurers in India, has proposed to Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) an extension of reasonable time for new traditional products regime to take place. V Manickam, secretary general, Life Insurance Council says that he has not asked for specific number of days/months of extension, but looks confident that insurance companies will get reasonable extension. IRDA making an extension before end of September will hardly be a surprise. In March 2013, IRDA had said that ‘standard proposal form’ guidelines would be effective from 16 February 2013. It has already been extended for life insurance companies to 1 April 2014. 
 

There are media reports about LIC portfolio reducing from 52 products to just seven next month plus four new launches. While LIC is tight lipped about new product details to agency force, it may be doing so to mop up as much premium this month as possible, before unveiling the products next month. While insurance companies are in the process of product re-filing, we have to see how many products IRDA can approve.
 

Here are some important changes for traditional insurance products coming next month:

  1. In case of regular premium insurance policies, a policy with a premium paying term (PPT) of five years will not pay more than 15% in the first year. Products with PPT of 12 years or more will have first year commissions up to 35% in case the company has completed 10 years of existence and 40% for the company in business for less than 10 years.
     
  2. Online policy sales and other direct sales of products will have no commissions and that benefit will be passed on to the policyholder.
     
  3. The minimum guaranteed surrender value for traditional plans has been pathetic. The existing guaranteed surrender value is 30% of all the premiums paid minus the first-year premium and is paid only if premiums have been paid for three years. This has been improved to some extent by the guidelines. For traditional plans with PPT of less than 10 years, the guaranteed surrender value will accrue after the second year. For PPT of 10 years or more, there will be a guaranteed surrender value after three years. This guaranteed surrender value will be 30% of total premiums paid. The surrender value becomes 50% between the fourth and the seventh years. The surrender value after seven years will have to be cleared by the regulator.
     
  4. The minimum death benefit for single premium policies will be higher of 125% of the single premium, or minimum guaranteed sum assured on maturity, or any absolute amount to be paid on death. For those with age more than 45 years, it will be 110% of the single premium.
     
  5. For regular premium products purchased by policyholder of age less than 45 years, it will be higher of 10 times the annualised premium or 105% of all premiums paid on date on death or minimum guaranteed sum assured on maturity, or any absolute amount to be paid on death. For those aged more than 45 years it will be seven times the annualised premium.

Read: IRDA guidelines impact commission and surrender value of traditional products

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COMMENTS

Amit Kumar Rai

4 years ago

if these policies like jeevan saral and jeevan anand are going to be closed. so what will happen to old jeevan saral and anand policies. i know it will continue but future profit giving in these schemes will less from lic compared to other active policies. if IRDA giving more time to bring new policies in place of all this, why they are not stopping selling of jeevan saral and anand after extension of times or giving of more times. also they ask lic to close all the previous policies of jeevan saral & anand with profit distribution as of now, because all old jeevan saral & anand policies and many other policies which are going to be closed will not be given more profit as their new policies.

Sanjay M Shah

4 years ago

DEAR FELLOW AGENTS THERE ARE TWO SIDES OF A COIN. WE DO NOT KNOW EXISTING PRODUCT WILL COME AGAIN WITH SAME TERMS & CONDITIONS/BENEFITS. MIS-SELLING CAN NOT BE AVOIDED, WHY BLAMING ONLY AGENTS FOR THAT.MOST OF MIS SELLING IS BY BANKS & BROKERS.TO SOME EXTENT IT IS MISTAKE ON PART OF POLICYHOLDER IN SELECTING AGENTS. SOMETIMES WHEN A POLICYHOLDER IS ASKED TO BUY A POLICY HE SAYS THAT SOME RELATIVE HAS TAKEN NEW AGENCY OR SOME AGENTS WANTS TO COMPLETE HIS QUOTA OR TARGET HE HAS GIVEN POLICY TO HIM/HER FOR OBLIGING. IN SUCH CASES MOST OF SALES IS MIS-SALES.
WHEN THINGS WERE AVAILABLE EASILY ON MANY OCCASION PEOPLE DEFER DECISION OF BUYING THE SAME UNLESS IT IS URGENTLY REQUIRE, BUT WHEN RUMOR OR NEWS COMES, ALL OF SUDDEN PEOPLE RUSH TO BUY THEM. LIFE INSU POLICY SELLING REQUIRE SKILLS & NEED IS TO BE CREATED IN MINDS OF PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT PHYSICAL PRODUCT U JUST DISPLAY & SELL. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG IF MARKETING IS DONE WHEN POLICIES R NOT AVAILABLE AFTER 1/10/2013. WHY U HAVE BECOME AGENT? TO SELL & EARN COMMISSION. ONLY THING AGENT SHOULD DO IS TO SELL NEED BASED.

TRILOCHAN KUMAR RAI

4 years ago

AO DOSTO LIC KE NAYE
RUP KA SWAGAT KRE

POTER PHATEGA

LIC KA NAYA PLAN NIKLEGA

AUR

KEWAL LIC HI TIKEGA


TRILOCHAN KUMAR RAI
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TRTR

Samira Patel

4 years ago

Thank you MoneyLife, your team is doing a good job in raising issues that affect the general investor in India. Your write-up makes complete sense and I partially agree with the fact that LIC Agents do mis-selling at the time of plan closures. However, me too being an Agent for more than 2 decades, I wish to explain why LIC agents suddenly become aggressive. If you carefully look at the LIC’s Agency force, you will notice that most of the Agents are pure Salesmen. A majority of them are under-graduates or graduates at the most. They do not understand much about what is going on in the financial market and how it will affect their business.

Since 2005 or 2006, the top management of LIC has become unethically aggressive. Every top ranking official wants to show growth in number of policies and premium in order to please his superiors. The Super boss of LIC wants to please his bosses sitting in Delhi. But it is not easy to show genuine growth overnight. They show growth in policies by engaging in splitting of policies. For example, if a policyholder wants to buy a Rs.10 Lakh Insurance policy, then split his policies in to 10 policies of 1 Lakh each or even 20 policies of 50,000 each. Unprofessional Agents take the responsibility of convincing the clients for getting recognition and prizes in the competitions floated by LIC on ‘Policy Basis’. The Agent will get additional incentives for selling more policies even though it is on a ‘Single Life’. The indirect beneficiaries are LIC bosses who show higher penetration of market in their tenure by using such tricks of trade. But the price of this is paid by the policyholders who get lower bonuses as the expenses of the Corporation rise on account of splitting of policies.

Coming to the ‘ Premium’ part of the story. Till a few years ago, LIC used to bifurcate the premiums as Regular Premium, Single Premium, Individual Pension Premium, Pension and Group Savings Premium, Group Insurance Premium, etc. But since the past few years they are showing consolidated Premium figures without any bifurcation. So now even Premium garnered by Group Insurance and Group Annuity Schemes are merged into the Annual Premium Collection figures shown by LIC. If LIC bifurcates each segment of premium as it used to do earlier, then probably everyone, including the policyholders will be in for a rude shock. The truth is that in comparison to earlier times, LIC is now faring poorly in traditional insurance policies where-in a client undertakes to pay renewal premium for 10 or 20 years. Therefore LIC is banking on single premium and group business to show growth on Premium.

As an LIC Agent I have attended many Agent’s meetings where the Branch Managers, Marketing Managers and even Sr.Divisional Managers misguide the Agency force into hard selling or unethical selling at the time of plan closures. We have witnessed it during the ULIP euphoria. Top ranking Managers would visit Branches like Financial Gurus confidently forecasting that the Sensex will attain 50,000 points and LIC being a dominant player in the stock market, the NAVs of its ULIP plans will zoom up beyond anyone’s expectation. They used to distribute pamphlets, brochures and colorful charts to prove their point. Fake news of Agents mobilizing Crores of funds in remote places in India was deliberately spread in order to motivate other Agents to sell ULIP plans. Special Competitions were launched with attractive prizes in order to lure Agents into selling ULIps. Many Agents succumbed to false propaganda and today have lost their credibility in the market as the NAVs of all ULIPs are faring badly.

Now we are facing the second phase of this madness. Senior Managers are quoting the Chairman declaring that the entire Corporation will retire on 30th September and will begin afresh on 1st October. They are tweaking the quote to explain to Agents that from 1st October, LIC policies will become unattractive as it will be loaded with Service Tax which a customer will not be in a mood to pay. Secondly, they are scaring the Agents saying that popular Plans will be withdrawn and Commissions will be slashed drastically. In such a scenario, how do you expect the otherwise un-informed or mis-informed Agency janata to react? They will slog as if its their last few days on the planet earth. Competitions are being floated with Cash prizes up to even Rs.50,000 on single premium policies. Earlier only Agents and Development Officers were paid Incentives. But since 2006 onwards, even Branch Managers and Marketing Managers are given Incentives in the form of expensive gifts like LED TVs, Holiday trips, Smart phones, Laptops, gift coupons, home appliances, etc. These managers try to make the most of it by using unethical sales practices and misguiding Agents and policyholders as their posting in a particular office is for a maximum period of 3 years after which they are transferred to some other place. This is precisely what happened during the ULIP euphoria. The Managers who promised us the moon is nowhere in sight. They just grabbed all the gifts and vanished to some other city. It is we the Agents who are bearing the brunt of policyholder’s wrath.

Friends, LIC is not what it used to be till the 1990s. Earlier, the top bosses were visionaries who carefully crafted LICs growth story. With just a 5 Crore grant from Central govt in 1956, they carefully built a multi-Lakh Crore financial giant with a formidable Sales force of about a million Agents. But today, the picture is exactly the opposite. Scams and Corruption have become common. If LIC in not brought on track soon, it may be forced to go the UTI way.
If reputed teams like MoneyLife can keep a check on financial institutions, then i am sure it will do a lot of good for the common man.

REPLY

GANESH

In Reply to Samira Patel 4 years ago

Thanks .What you said is 100% true. The Splitting of policy is termed as ODC. Definitely not beneficial for policy holder.Even 3 types of policies will be enough if the bonus rates are raised to 60 level from the present 48.Relaxation in 45+ years band on medical terms will do a world of good for LIC. Last but not the least, THE AGENT WORK FORCE on whose back the Organization has built Castle is not well taken care off. What ever percentage commission bla bla mentioned and given ,everybody knows how it is spent.There is no recognition for a 5 year or 10 year or a 15-20 years Agent who has been loyal to the corporation. No 5 year pay commission for them as to employees of LIC . Even if LIC pays starting with 2k/month for all 5 years completed agent as a recognition of his rendered service, LIC will grow manifold times in near future.

Nithya

In Reply to Samira Patel 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing the information.

Aniruddha Sengupta

In Reply to Samira Patel 4 years ago

Kudos for sharing your views with forthrightness!

Ashish Anand Mahajan

In Reply to Samira Patel 4 years ago

Thanks Samira,
i m also an LIC advisor since so many years.

I m completely agree with YOU.
Now a days LIC agents r create a fobia to the clients as LIC is about to getting close.

They don't think that ''Every Change is Inevitable''.

I also asked to my clients to get the policy before 30 sep 2013 but not with wrong commitments.

Here are some good things that Policy holder can switch the exsisting policy in New Form with paying service tax, if it looks attractive to him.

So morally if the same product comes with less premium (as New Mortality Rate Chart is being implemented after 30 Sep 2013,) it's our moral responsibility to convert the existing one into new form.

Ashish Mahajan

raj

In Reply to Ashish Anand Mahajan 4 years ago

Dear Mr Mahajan,

You said - Here are some good things that Policy holder can switch the exsisting policy in New Form with paying service tax, if it looks attractive to him.

Please explain how one can convert existing policy to new product from Oct 1?

You said - So morally if the same product comes with less premium (as New Mortality Rate Chart is being implemented after 30 Sep 2013,)

Will the new mortality rates be lower or higher after 30 Sep?

hitesh budhedeo

In Reply to Samira Patel 4 years ago

Many thanks to you for providing all details . I was forced to check online the details regarding s. tax & closure of policies ,as the agent i felt, was trying to misguide me.
Thanks once again

raj

In Reply to Samira Patel 4 years ago

Dear Samira Patel,

Many thanks for your knowledgeable feedback!

Nikhil Dhami

4 years ago


People are being mislead by agents.

Thank You Money Life bring this to Notice. Service tax was any way being paid from policy holders pocket..Premium would increase with this change so do the bonus from LIC.

Hello

4 years ago

if any one want to purchess LIC policie...so he should wait for new policies or should buy any one of old policy before 30-09...from customer profit perspective

G Srikanth

4 years ago

This is definitely, to boom private insurance companies, our traditional products of LIC has been withdrawn in the name of Service Tax, Commission to agents etc.

Dilip Kokane

4 years ago

Dear Raj, Please check new commission rates of IRDA guidelines and compare with existing rates payable to LIC agents. You will find that the agent will get more commission after 30-09-2013, so why he will make hullabol? It is service tax issue and not our commission.If any doubt write me [email protected]
Dilip Kokane

REPLY

raj

In Reply to Dilip Kokane 4 years ago

Dear Dilip,

I hope you read the IRDA guidelines correctly. Today, LIC agents get 35% first year commission for traditional products irrespective of the policy term. Please explain how agents will get more commission post Sep 2013?

New guidelines - In case of regular premium insurance policies, a policy with a premium paying term (PPT) of five years will not pay more than 15% in the first year. Products with PPT of 12 years or more will have first year commissions up to 35% in case the company has completed 10 years of existence and 40% for the company in business for less than 10 years.

DEEPAK KHEMANI

In Reply to raj 4 years ago

Raj,
what Dilip is saying is correct, there is effectively no change in Commission structure even after 1-10-13.
What you need to know is that today also the agent has a similar payout structure on lower ppt. What changes is the Surrender value payable to the client, BUT here does anyone buy an Insurance policy Traditional version so that he can surrender it?
Then he oe she is better off in ULIPS or Mutual funds!

Nikhil Dhami

In Reply to Dilip Kokane 4 years ago

Helo Dilip

Please read point no 2. there will be no commission for online sales and benefit will be passed on to policy holders.

i am sure this article has hit below the belt.

Thanks Moneylife for highlighting this.

Regards
Nikhil

Deepak Gupta

4 years ago

Other than pure term insurance, insurance in our country has remained a legal form of thuggery. And the industry - public+private - has always acted as a cartel of thugs.

So, this behaviour is not surprising. Kudos to Monelife for highlighting it.

REPLY

Yogesh

In Reply to Deepak Gupta 4 years ago

This changes will be good, as I heard there will be term insurance can be clubbed to Mediclam policy. I think we whould wait and see what new policies these companies bring into market due to compitetion. I we can old policies and then if we can club mediclam with term insurance it will be good for us.

Nikhil Dhami

In Reply to Deepak Gupta 4 years ago

Sorry Deepak,

This response was meant for Dilip..

i can not recall this :)

Regards
Nikhil

Nikhil Dhami

In Reply to Deepak Gupta 4 years ago

Mr. Gupta..

Did you read point no 2. there will be no commission fro online sales.

I am sure this article has hit below the belt.

Regards
Nikhil

sivasankaran

4 years ago

THE AGENTS ARE AT THEIR BEST IN EXPLOITING THE SITUATION TO THEIR BENEFIT LETTING THE LAY/HAPLESS MEN SUCCUMB TO THEIR DIRTY TRICKS

RAJENDRA P

4 years ago

whether service tax will be levied on the old policies taken on or before 30/09/2013 by the insurer

REPLY

raj

In Reply to RAJENDRA P 4 years ago

no

Parag Mehta

4 years ago

Needed clarification on the hearsay that in case of mediclaim policies also, service tax is to be collected separately from policy holders and it will be on new policies taken subsequent of october 2013 and not on existing policies.
Kindly clarify.

Is the service sector in India chronically service deficient?

India is an economy based on services sector. However, do we really provide even basic services to consumers in our own country? In a country, where the system and service providers care little about the customer, the solution lies in self-empowerment

India is a service sector dominated economy. We are one of the few large economies in the world, which skipped the phase of large-scale industrialisation, and became a service-based economy from an agriculture-based one. More than 60% of the economy is service sector in India. We have everything that the service sector can boast of. We have insurance, banking, telecom and airlines (the service component, as we do not manufacture it). We outperformed China in becoming a hub of business process outsourcing, a component of the service sector. While we continue to grow as a service sector economy; we do not have what is required to run the service sector, i.e. spirit of service. Let us look at some examples to understand how service-focused we are.

 

When you buy a product or service in India, you are the king. You are pampered, you get royal treatment and for a moment, you get enamoured by the standard set by the company or service provider. So if you, fill an online form to buy an air ticket and do not complete the transaction but have entered your telephone number, you may end up getting a call from the portal, which will ask you if you had any issue, while booking the ticket.

 

Now, imagine that you have bought a Jet Airways ticket and you are having an issue in web check in. You call Jet Airways, the consumer care line. On more than 90% of occasions, you will get a message, which is, “We are experiencing heavy traffic volume. Your expected wait time is 15 minutes”. Is this heavy traffic or lack of adequate staff to take care of customers? An airline knows how many tickets are booked on a daily basis and the number of calls that it gets on a daily basis. The number of calls can also be well assessed by an airline in India. Can’t it plan accordingly?

 

This is not against a company or a sector. You trying lodging a complaint with Vodafone on their customer care line, the customer care executive will avoid giving you a complaint number, which can be used by you by for writing a mail to the nodal officer. Recently, I tried to call a number displayed on IDBI Samruddhi portal, for some queries. After dialling 40 times between 10am to 2pm, I gave up because the number was continuously engaged. I bought a cupboard from a Godrej showroom in Vashi and asked the employee over there, how much time it will take to deliver the cupboard? His response was three to four weeks. However, the work was not completed on scheduled time.

 

There are several such experiences, which I am sure most of us have.  This reflects poorly on our service sector. The service sector focuses on sales with little attention on after sales service. Everybody wants to pay attention to where the money is made. After all, post-sales service is not a money spinner. Also in many cases sales and after sales service providers are two different entities. This is in contradiction to what you see in many other countries across the world, especially the advanced economy. In India, we say that the consumer is the king, but he is at the receiving end when it comes to delivering services.

 

Why does this happen? There are many reasons. The legal system is heavily skewed against the consumer. Today, if you have to file a complaint against a bank, you may have to run from pillar to the post. Banking ombudsman does exist but the focus of the system is in reducing the number of cases pending with it, rather than anything else. The ombudsman will never go out of the way to help you. There are consumer courts. You can approach them also. But it requires resource, like time and some money. Most of us do not have the first one and hence, end up ignoring the issue that we face. This is where the consumer apathy comes into picture. We do not even want to write an email and expect others to solve our problem. Moneylife receives many such queries where consumers expect Moneylife to fight on their behalf.
 

Recently I wrote an email to Air India on the problem displayed on their website regarding missing miles. The facility is not available for months but the website has the standard message, which says it is not available temporarily.

 

I have received a reply from them, but if I find that the issue is not resolved, RTI could be the next action from my side.

 

However, where is the solution? It is time to fight for what is our right. A consumer forum or an association can only provide help in a limited way. Every consumer needs to be an activist to ensure that he raises service deficiency issues. In a country, where the system and service providers little care about the customer, the solution lies in empowerment of self. 

 

(Vivek Sharma has worked for 17 years in the stock market, debt market and banking. He is a post-graduate in Economics and MBA in Finance. He writes on personal finance and economics and is invited as an expert on personal finance shows.)

User

COMMENTS

m e yeolekar

4 years ago

Compared to few years back,it is better.You are at least asked feedback and rating / grading on scale of 1 to 10.Sheer numbers of human interactions / events /incidents can take a toll on the personnel concerned.There is no need to immediately turn into an activist or shoot off a RTI. Having said this,it is to be admitted that there is a finite scope to do away with elements of inattention,disinterest,plain apathy,irresponsible behaviour, passing the buck and delaying tactics amounting to time pass ; and there exist methods and measures to rectify the lacunae. M E Yeolekar, Mumbai.

ramchandran

4 years ago

India as a services economy is a notion.Its not in our blood, its just lip service.
Unfortunately people hardly know their rights in the first place leave alone fight for them. The word CUSTOMER translates here to CUST (read it as marathi) SE MAR (ie die with your pain)!!!

Nihar Mody

4 years ago

Do you have any advisory for redevelopment project of Coop Hsg soc? I have some issues with the society.

R Balakrishnan

4 years ago

Valid observations. The important thing seems to be that Indians do not have a work ethic. There is no commitment to work. Everyone just does what he is told to do,as lazily as possible. Productivity is low and in most offices, I have seen people wasting time on chatting with each other, extended coffee breaks, long lunches etc. And they then sit late because their boss sits or because they have faster internet at work. Whether it is in the finish of a product or in delivery of a service, it is a 'chalta hai' attitude.

‘Asia business sentiment drops sharply in Q3’

Asian equities, currencies and bonds have taken a beating over the last few months after the U.S. Federal Reserve hinted it would halt its nearly five-year policy of flooding markets with cheap cash, points out Reuters in its release on its Asia Business Sentiment survey

Business sentiment among Asia's top companies deteriorated in the third quarter, interrupting three consecutive quarters of an improvement, with global economic uncertainty remaining the biggest concern for the region's firms, the latest Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment survey showed. The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asia Business Sentiment Index fell to 66 in the third quarter from 71 in the second quarter when it reached the highest level in more than a year. An index reading above 50 indicates an overall positive outlook. The survey showed that shipping and financial sectors were the most negative with a third-quarter score of 50, a sharp drop from the shipping industry's reading of 80 and financials' reading of 78 in the second quarter.

  

Asian equities, currencies and bonds have taken a beating over the last few months after the U.S. Federal Reserve hinted it would halt its nearly five-year policy of flooding markets with cheap cash, points out Reuters in its release on its Asia Business Sentiment survey.

 

Some of the weakest readings came from north Asia's export-orientated economies of China, South Korea and Taiwan, and regional trading hub Singapore, all of which turned in readings of 50 – highlighting the impact of a stuttering global economy. “Asian companies are still maintaining a relatively cautious outlook regarding their earnings growth prospects,” said Fan Cheuk Wan, chief investment officer for the Asia-Pacific region at Credit Suisse's private banking and wealth management unit. “It could be partly related to the recent volatility across the emerging economies over the past three months.”

 

As recently as a month ago, investors were worried that China's economy was slipping into a deeper-than-expected downturn. But policymakers have stepped in with measures to steady the economy, from quicker railway investment and public housing construction to introducing policies to help smaller companies with financing needs, according to Reuters.

 

The poll conducted by Thomson Reuters News in association with INSEAD, a global business and management school, surveyed more than 100 executives in 11 Asia-Pacific countries across sectors including autos, financials, resources, food and retail.

Of the 90 companies that replied to the poll, held from 2 September 2013 to 13 September 2013, two-thirds reported a neutral outlook, just less than one-third were positive on their prospects and about 1% reported a negative outlook.

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