Oriental Bank of Commerce introduces mediclaim policy

Oriental Bank Mediclaim policy is a cash-less family floater covering the members of the beneficiary's family

Oriental Bank of Commerce has signed a memorandum of understanding with Oriental Insurance Co Ltd for selling mediclaim policies to the bank's customers through its pan-India network.

Oriental Bank Mediclaim policy is a cash-less family floater covering the members of the beneficiary's family. The policies are available for Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. For a policy of Rs 5 lakh, the premium is Rs 6,705 a year.


MCX introduces cotton futures trading

The cotton futures contract will meet the needs of the whole cotton value chain including farmers, ginners, traders, spinners and textile manufacturers

For bringing more value to the trade, commodity bourse Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX) on Monday launched futures trading in cotton. Currently, the contracts for October, December 2011 and January 2012 have been offered for trading.

The trading unit of the cotton futures contract is 25 bales (170 kg a bale) and price quote for the contract is ex-warehouse Rajkot (within 100 km radius) excluding all taxes, duties, levies, and charges, as applicable, a MCX statement said.

"India is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The cotton futures contract will meet the needs of the whole cotton value chain including farmers, ginners, traders, spinners and textile manufacturers. It will bring about a large gamut of benefits to all stakeholders of the cotton industry," Ramesh Abhishek, chairman, forward markets commission said after launching the contract.

The cotton futures contract is a compulsory delivery contract. The physical delivery would be available in multiples of 100 bales. The basis delivery center is Rajkot. The additional delivery centers include Jalgaon (Maharashtra), Aurangabad (Maharashtra), Kadi (Gujarat), Abohar (Punjab), Bhatinda (Punjab), Sirsa (Haryana), Burhanpur (Madhya Pradesh), Adilabad and Guntur (Andhra Pradesh).

An individual broker can trade on behalf of his clients up to 1,50,000 bale and the individual trader can trade up to 50,000 bale on the exchange platform.
"The cotton futures can effectively provide a benchmark price for cotton in India, and also help the diverse cotton trade and industry functionaries in managing price risks on their spot and forward transactions in the domestic as well as export markets. Futures trading in cotton will also go a long way in stabilising cotton prices by reducing the short-term and seasonal variations in them, to the benefit of millions of cotton growers in the country," Venkat Chary, chairman, MCX noted.

India, the world's second biggest producer of cotton, is estimated to have produced a record 33.42 million bale in 2010-11 season that ended last month compared with 24.02 million bale in the previous fiscal.


Highest NAV ULIPs—Agents on sales overdrive, IRDA agrees that mis-selling is going on

Insurance agents are on an overdrive, pitching highest NAV ULIPs as a ‘limited-time’ opportunity. They understand the customer psyche of wanting something that may soon be out of reach, with the strong possibility that IRDA might crack down on these instruments

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) seems to have woken up to the ill-effects of highest NAV (Net Asset Value) unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) mis-selling. With the possibility of IRDA showing the door to these products, agents are on an overdrive to push these products as a 'limited-time' offer. SMS messages are doing the rounds (despite the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India banning spam SMSs), with some making unrealistic offers.

Last year, agents were pushing ULIPs with great zeal before the 1 September 2010 regulatory changes. It made a whit of a difference that the new ULIPs under IRDA's fresh policy were going to be better than the old products that were being peddled. Now history is repeating itself. Don't fall for the highest NAV ULIP trap this year.

Moneylife has received a couple of SMSs which could be from dubious agents. Here's what the first SMS says (reproduced verbatim, not corrected for grammar)—"HDFC Life CREST—with highest NAV guaranteed fund. No medicals. Pay for 5 years only. Open for limited Period. Buy now." The second SMS -"ICICI's Pinnacle 110% highest NAV guaranteed scheme end on 30 Sep. Benefits include 24% return on Day1, 10 times cover, 100% tax free return."

Interaction with agents in the past few weeks revealed that the wrong impression was being given to customers about the amount of equity exposure in the product and the duration of equity investment over the policy term. Either the insurers were misleading their agents—or the agents were misleading potential customers. Either way, the potential customer stands to lose.

Moneylife has maintained all along that highest NAV ULIPs give suboptimal results and cause confusion among customers. The most important point to understand is that insurance companies are guaranteeing NAVs and not returns! The perception that it was creating in the minds of gullible customers was about getting highest equity returns. Most of the investment would be in debt instruments and the returns would be no better than any other similar investment.

IRDA is closely looking at all the highest NAV products available in the market.

According to IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan, "We are looking at all the messages on these products; how these products are sold; what the customer understanding is of the product. We feel there is mis-selling in highest NAV products."

Insurance companies Moneylife has interacted with recently are not happy with IRDA's hint at scrapping highest NAV products. According to an insurance company head who spoke to Moneylife, preferring anonymity, "It is possible customers feel that they are going to get highest equity market returns over the years. More disclosures would be the answer. Removing highest NAV will lower the number of product offerings. In that case, customers should go in for FDs (fixed deposits) for assured returns—but even that product is also subject to mis-selling."

According to Deepak Sood, MD & CEO, Future Generali India Life Insurance, "We are not selling highest NAV ULIPs any more. My opinion is that freedom should be left to the company based on its customer analysis. IRDA can make improvements at the product level rather than take action at the category level; otherwise, it will restrict the choice open to the customer. I understand IRDA may be looking at the larger interest of the market. The concept is followed outside India too. The misinterpretation by customer about getting highest equity market return can be addressed by education, transparent brochures and documents."

But the bottom-line, as Moneylife has clearly spelt out over a number of articles, is that insurance should never be looked at as a platform for delivering returns.



Pradeep Bhageria

5 years ago

This is not the only misselling way by Insurance Companies. It is a known fact that many sales persons even forge clients signatures on forms. I have briught one such case to the notice of Manangement of HDFC Life, but rather than investigating an d taking action on the truth, they have terminated my agency code..It seems that the new management of HDFC Life has clearly put the good prctices of Mr Deepak Parekh on side while doing business and has resorted to any damn ways of getting the things done by its staff including Branch Managers and Teritory managers....

Vikas Gupta

5 years ago

It has already been proved that most of the Life insurance policies sold in our Country are missold. Most of these policies are sold either to Oblidge somebody may be Bank Staff or Relative/Acquintance. Most of the policies are sold only on single criteria i.e. Highest commission to the intermediatory & not based upon Customers' requirement. It is only due to some reasons as already mentioned. It can be minimised if Customers can differentiate between Sellers & True Advisors.

Melvin Joseph

5 years ago

The regulator in India should understand one thing. We as a nation is far behind in terms of financial literacy. we cannot expect a typical insurance customer to buy a policy after understanding what proportion is going in equity and debt.We have to understand this market reality and design the products accordingly.
This is a toxic product, which will offer debt retiurns to the customer on his long term savings. The main catch is that the NAV guarantee applies only in case of maturity.The product is missold like a guaranteed return policy in many places.
Regulator should give approval to such complicated products with necessary conditions. They can target the urban customers who can afford a high ticket size.Keeping the minimum ticket size at 1 Lakh or so is an example. We cannot allow these products to be sold in rural and semi urban areas. Earlier also the regulator have withdrawn the Actuarial funded policies and Universal Life Policies which was approved by them earlier.

Don't blame the agent here. This is the duty of the regulator and insurance companies.
Please read my article on this topic in http://www.finvin.in.


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