In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
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: