Life Insurance: Passive Euthanasia Can Impact Life Insurance Settlement
The Supreme Court’s (SC’s) landmark judgement, allowing passive euthanasia to ease the dying process of terminally ill patients or a person in a persistent vegetative state, can impact life insurance death claim settlement.
 
Unfortunately, IRDAI’s annual reports do not provide data on life insurance claims settled under suicide cases. Over 15% of the suicide cases are due to...
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SC Kuntia is the new Chairman of IRDAI
The Central government has appointed Subash Chandra Khuntia as the new Chairman of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), said a senior official.
 
A 1981 batch IAS officer and a former Chief Secretary of Karnataka, Khuntia will head IRDAI for three years from the date he assumes charge, an IRDAI official told IANS.
 
Khuntia succeeds T.S. Vijayan who retired as IRDAI head some time back.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

 

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COMMENTS

Alagu Sundaram

6 months ago

My insurance money. Settled quick help me please.

Will LIC Be Made To Pay for the Horrible Mis-selling of Jeevan Saral?
This year onwards, a large chunk of Jeevan Saral policies, sold by the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), will mature and policyholders in the higher age group who bought these will get a rude shock. They will find that they have been duped into getting half, or less, of what they paid by way of premiums over 10 or more years. At that juncture, they may decide to take legal action. LIC, on the other hand, anticipates these legal fights and seems to be determined to save its skin by doggedly fighting on and taking the cases to higher courts, to avoid having to compensate the policyholders. The government-backed insurance behemoth is not interested in being fair to millions of Indians who have, over generations, wholeheartedly trusted the brand. 
 
Why do customers buy traditional life insurance products other than term plans? They want to get some returns on their investment; i.e., the premiums they pay. They want the peace of mind of having a life cover; also, they do not want to lose the premiums if there is no death claim. Getting positive returns, even if meagre, satisfies policy-buyers. Why do they prefer traditional products (endowment, money-back and whole life)? Unlike unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs), customers of traditional policies do not want to end up with losses on the invested amount due to equity market risks. Traditional products are supposed to give you back your premiums paid (investment) along with some returns. The returns may be low; but investors in traditional products expect safety of their principal amount (investment).  
 
When LIC launches a traditional product, the entire force of its agents is pumped up to push the product. And customers invest blindly due to their faith in LIC. The LIC brand invokes such loyalty that customers don’t expect LIC to fool them. It gives LIC tremendous power which can be misused to actually deliver a lemon to customers while being a great revenue-earner for LIC. 
 
Taking advantage of gullible Indians blindly buying LIC’s products, the behemoth sold a toxic product, with the misnomer Jeevan Saral (meaning ‘life simple’), which became a hot-selling insurance product for agents, until it was withdrawn in December 2013. The product gave higher insurance cover which helped as a sales pitch. People of age 50+ were attracted. But their expectations are that the policy will give positive returns.
 
They want to get back their investment (premium paid) plus any returns offered by LIC. The product ran for nine years selling almost 50 million policies. LIC’s army of agents has an easy motivation to sell policies to earn commissions. They are always gung-ho about LIC products. Did the agents really know what they were selling or was it just herd mentality of selling policies thinking that every LIC product has to be good for customers? Read on, to know that even agents did not know that Jeevan Saral could cause losses for policyholders.
 
LIC has been the country’s most attractive brand in the financial services segment for several years. Its Jeevan Saral product seems to have taken advantage of this fact, selling 50 million policies. People of age 50+ who bought Jeevan Saral will end up with losses even though it was not a ULIP. It also shows that even traditional products, not just ULIPs, can give negative returns. Jeevan Saral was marketed as ‘With Profit’ policy and, yet, caused losses. 
 
Traditional products have different premiums (based on age) for the same sum assured (SA). For example, endowment plans can have a premium of Rs4,800 for Rs1 lakh SA. If the age is higher, the premium can be Rs5,500 for the same cover. This happens due to higher mortality charges for higher age. Jeevan Saral has a twist. Its premium is the same for all ages for a given death SA and policy term; this means that the maturity amounts are different. The higher the age, the lower will be maturity amount, to compensate for higher morality charges. Jeevan Saral is supposed to give better surrender and/or paid-up value. It was considered a good plan with a lot of flexibility for young people. The main issue with the product is for those in the higher age group.
 
Moneylife has received several complaints from Jeevan Saral policyholders. The situation will get worse, with policies completing 10-year term in the near future. It may inflict a loss of 50%-60% of investment. The pathetic maturity amount will jolt the policyholders who trusted LIC to give decent returns. The shock of the loss will leave a bad taste for older customers. Will Jeevan Saral dent the public’s trust in LIC?
 
A 58-year-old person (Mr Patil—name changed), had paid a total of Rs97,824 as half-yearly premium of Rs4,076 for 12 years. The maturity SA, which was paid to him after 12 years, was a mere Rs24,575 plus bonus, amounting to Rs34,405. Even though the maturity amount was mentioned in the policy document, it was missing in the proposal, which only specified the ‘sum assured’ of Rs1.25 lakh. So, the buyer would think that he will get at least Rs1.25 lakh  on maturity; but it is only paid on death. How can the proposal have only one ‘sum assured’ field when the product has two ‘sum assured’ (death and maturity). As the proposal did not mention the pathetic maturity sum assured, it tantamounts to gross mis-selling by LIC. The policy was sold with inaccurate, faulty and misleading proposal form!
 
While the death cover of 15 times the premium is good, it leads to hefty negative returns due to higher mortality charges for those in the higher age group. Some policies even have 20 times the premium as cover for these people which would mean even lower returns. Even a younger person may barely get the premiums back at maturity or get minimal returns; hence, Jeevan Saral was a terrible investment product.
 
How Jeevan Saral Tricked Customers
Maturity Sum Assured versus Death Sum Assured: Jeevan Saral has two different figures for SA: death sum assured and maturity sum assured. A layman would not know the difference and would assume that he/she will get the SA (death) plus bonus, on policy maturity. An insurance product usually has only one SA and, hence, the concept of two different SA (death and maturity) is an unknown concept to even LIC’s loyal customer base. Even a financially literate person may miss it, as the LIC proposal form only has ONE field for ‘sum assured’ (paid only on death). So, paying close attention to the policy document specifying the maturity SA is important when it is different from the death SA. 
 
Flawed Proposal Form: Jeevan Saral was sold to a couple without informing them that the maturity amount will be far lower than the total of the premiums they paid. It is unfair disclosure, as the customer is usually not aware of the maturity SA being at variance from the death SA. The couple filled the proposal form which only had one SA field. The maturity SA was not mentioned in the proposal. This is not just misleading; it is a fraud. Many policies sold between 2003 and 2006 did not print the maturity SA; they only showed death SA. 
 
It is a blunder on the part of LIC. Anyone having Jeevan Saral policy bond without maturity SA or incorrect maturity SA can sue LIC before the insurance ombudsman or the consumer court. You will get justice when you demand death SA be paid even if you don’t die. People have got justice as the policy bond is a contract! If the maturity SA was correctly specified in the policy document, LIC will put up a fight. Most policyholders do not look at the policy bond details which can be an expensive mistake.
 
 
Conceptualised by the Genius GN Agarwal?
GN (Gorakhnath) Agarwal was head of the actuarial department of LIC when Jeevan Saral was launched. Mr Agarwal had addressed LIC’s divisional officers and agents gatherings held in Mumbai, Vadodara and other places in India to pitch Jeevan Saral to the sales force. How is it possible that even the sales force did not smell a rat with the goodies offered by LIC? Moneylife has recordings of these LIC meetings. The main points of his speech were as follows:
1. Surrender after three years without any loss;
2. Policy is ‘saral’ as its name suggests;
3. Good returns, high returns, better returns, better intention, better than private investment;
4. Can earn interest/yield @9%;
5. No mention about loss any time during his speech.
 
 
MP Dr Kirit Somaiya's Letter to IRDAI Chairman
 
If a well-known political leader's letter to IRDAI's chairman made no difference, it shows that either IRDAI is helpless or it does not want to help. In a letter addressed to IRDAI chairman dated 27 November 2014, Dr Kirit Somaiya, wrote, "In the last 4 financial years the sale under this plan spurted all of the sudden. For the period from 2004 till 2007, the sales under this plan were very less. 1st maturity of this policy has taken place now for the 1st time as minimum term of 10 years is over now. It is very disheartening and sad to inform you Sir that in many cases the maturity amount for 10 years as well as 11 & 12 years term is very less to the extent that the policyholder has not even got the refund of the premium of what they paid in this period. In quite a few cases, policyholders with higher age have not even got half of the premium they paid in 10, 11 or 12 years. This has led to a lot of annoyance and distrust not only in the mind of the aggrieved policyholder but also in the mind of the general public. This is just the beginning as the sales for the period from 2004 to 2007 under this plan was low. The real trouble will start after 2018 if LIC continues to pay such low maturity even after the year 2018 for a 10-year term plan. This is really going to endanger to the goodwill and reputation of LIC of India where government of India are the owners. Can we afford Sir to create doubt in the mind of 35 crore policyholders of LIC? Is it justified to play with the hard-earned money of such big masses? It will create a lot of havoc if the same trend continues in future."
 
 
The proof of Mr Agarwal’s wrongdoing is a letter from MP (member of Parliament) Dr Kirit Somaiya to IRDAI chairman in 2014. He says, “It was for the first time in the history of LIC that the Actuary of LIC (Shri 
GN Agarwal), who launched this plan, directly addressed the field force in big gatherings at various places all across India at the time of the launch of the plan to inform them that this is a ‘With Profit’ Plan and, in fact, the maturity under this plan is going to be more than the other traditional plan such as endowment and money-back plans.”
 
A veteran ex-LIC agent, says, “Jeevan Saral was mis-sold with false promises of getting 10%pa (per annum) returns. Forget about 10%pa returns for a non-ULIP product, you may not get any returns or even get losses. The product caused hefty losses for those in the higher age group. A certain trainer Mr Patel is credited with creating pamphlets claiming that Jeevan Saral can give 10%pa returns. The blatantly false pamphlets may have triggered mass mis-selling.”  
 
Currently, Mr Agarwal is the chief actuary with Future Generali Life Insurance. Actuaries are extremely well-paid. Being a chief actuary of a life insurance company can mean earnings in crores of rupees. It is an irony that actuaries enjoy a fat package when customers can even lose their lifetime’s savings in a toxic life insurance product. 
 
 
Branch Office Surprised with Negative Returns
 
That agents don't know about product details is a known fact; but how can even the heads of LIC's branch offices be clueless? The head of an LIC branch wrote to the divisional office seeking the reasons for a customer getting only one-third of the investment amount.

He wrote: "People trust and have faith in LIC for investments. If their savings are not protected, then how can we market other products based on promises of loyalty expected for LIC schemes?" A traditional policy may have losses if the policy is surrendered prematurely or it is converted to 'paid-up'; but, in the case of Jeevan Saral, it has happened even at policy maturity.

If the branch heads of the seller do not know about product returns, what can be expected from a lay customer? Is it that the sales force were so mesmerised by GN Agarwal's speeches that they followed him without questioning the product? Only a genius can design such a saral (easy) product.
 
 
Grievance Redressal Options
Mumbai Ombudsman Rejection: Mr Patil did not get justice at the Mumbai ombudsman, despite getting a paltry one-third of the premium at maturity. The ombudsman’s decision states: “If the insurance company has paid the amount as per policy conditions, it is not possible for us to entertain your complaint. However, you may approach any other Forum/Court for the redressal of your complaint.” 
 
 
Letter of National Federation of Insurance Field Workers of India to LIC 
 
This is the organisation of agents who also feel cheated as they sold the policy without even knowing that it can cause huge losses for the policyholder. At the end of the day, even the agents who mis-sell products may not really wish that their customers should end up with such large losses. Sure, they want to sell products to make a living for themselves, but they don’t want to hear abuses from their customers. 

The letter dated 1 July 2014 from the National Federation of Insurance Field Workers of India to LIC states—“Please find enclosed herewith a maturity discharge voucher for policy no.892713507 wherein it is observed that the policyholder has paid Rs4,70,400 as premium during the 10 year policy [email protected] a yearly premium of Rs47,040, whereas the total maturity value offered to him is Rs1,65,186 only. The policyholder in this case is getting Rs3,15,214 less than what he has paid. Forget about any growth, he is, in fact, getting nearly 75% less than the total premium paid by him.

It must be a rare occasion when the organisation of agents has complained to LIC about its dubious product which they sold to earn curses from customers. The goodwill of LIC has evaporated into thin air. It also shows that agent mis-selling is not true for Jeevan Saral; it is a case of LIC mis-selling.
 
 
Hyderabad and Kochi Ombudsman’s Favourable Decision: The Hyderabad insurance ombudsman’s office has given justice to a policyholder. The Deccan Herald newspaper, on 20 January 2016, had a news report of a decision given by the ombudsman in the policyholder’s favour. The policyholder had argued that LIC had advertised Jeevan Saral in newspapers in 2002. The advertisement had claimed that the scheme offered higher returns to the insured. He paid Rs48,040 as premium, while the maturity amount was Rs34,894. He was told that the SA was Rs1 lakh and, hence, was expecting that amount. What worked in the favour of policyholder was that in the LIC policy bond the column of maturity SA was ‘blank’. 
 
The copy of the Hyderabad ombudsman’s order, procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act reveals that during the hearing, the LIC representative stated that not specifying of the correct maturity benefit was a typographical mistake that occurred during the printing of the policy document. Does it also mean that not specifying the maturity amount in the proposal form is also a mistake from LIC, as the proposal form does not have separate fields for maturity and death SA? The ombudsman ordered LIC to pay Rs1 lakh to the insured. 
 
 
RTI Information Denied by LIC
 

It is not surprising that LIC has evaded questions put to it under the RTI. The only information it gives is what is publicly available—that almost 50 million Jeevan Saral policies have been sold. Companies have perfected the art of making excuses for why they cannot give answers. An RTI query seeking information on maturity claim payment of Jeeval Saral policies and the premium collected for these policies was denied answers. The reply gave excuses for not being able to give such data. LIC wrote:

 “Information sought is not maintained by this office of the Public Authority, hence, information sought is not available as provided u/s 2(f) of RTI Act, 2005. Further, this information is not required for the normal, routine and regular administrative work. The information will have to be collected only to meet the demand of the applicant. Therefore, collecting and collating the information for the purpose of providing the same to the applicant will amount to creation of a new record and will result in disproportionate diversion of the limited resources of this Public Authority, as mentioned in Section 7(9) of RTI Act, 2005. This would be definitely detrimental to public interest because it would put to undue strain the limited resources of this Public Authority.” The first appellate authority has disposed of the appeal thereby upholding the earlier order of public information officer.

If LIC itself does not keep track of maturity claim payment versus premium collected for the policies, then how does it know how much profit it made from the policy? How does LIC know whether the product has been good for customers or not? IRDAI needs to ask LIC for this data to know how senior citizens were duped of their investments. Not specifying the maturity amount in the policy bond for most of policies sold in the first three years is a serious matter. IRDAI needs to wake up.

 
 
In a similar case, 54 year old person who purchased Jeevan Saral policy for 11 years term was paid maturity amount plus bonus of Rs39,894. The person was expecting to be paid SA of one lakh. The ombudsman order states following—“If the insurer has made any error in printing the policy, it had eleven long years to rectify the same, which was not done. The policy document is the basis of the contract and the insurer cannot at this point state that the maturity sum assured will be much lower.... The issue of policy cannot be treated as another routine matter. Obviously, some printing error has been made in the policy document which the insurer has not till maturity informed the policyholder.... In the result, an award is passed directing the respondent insurer to honour the contract and pay the maturity sum assured of Rs1 lakh as printed on the policy. No costs.” 
 
High Court (HC) Decision: After the Hyderabad ombudsman’s decision asking LIC to pay Rs1 lakh to the insured, the LIC divisional manager filed a writ petition in the HC. The Dharwad Bench of the Karnataka HC imposed a fine of Rs10,000 on LIC for filing a writ petition against an order of the ombudsman. The Bench’s order, procured under RTI, states that the insured is at  liberty to levy execution and attach the property of the petitioner LIC, if LIC failed to pay the sum.
 
So, there is hope for Jeevan Saral policyholders. IRDAI should intervene and help policyholders. After all, IRDAI is also to blame for approving a toxic product, knowing that senior citizens will end up losing their hard-earned money. Where does the buck stop? Will justice ever be served? Or should senior citizens just give up, thinking that their loss is due to indirect tax from the government levied via LIC? 
 
 
Where are the Consumer Protection Regulations?
 

Product Suitability: IRDAI's Protection of Policyholders' Interests Draft Regulation (2017) dropped the 'suitability' clause which was present in the 2014 draft. It had said: "The insurer, insurance agent and the insurance intermediary shall also ensure the suitability of the product with relevance to prospects' income, personal and family circumstances, life stage, financial goals and risk appetite." If such a regulation is enforced, products like Jeevan Saral will never be sold to those in higher age group.

Protection of Policyholders' Interest Draft Regulation: Draft Regulation (2017) has dropped the key rights that were present in the 2014 draft. The right to professional diligence, right of fair disclosure, right to receive suitable advice and right to protection against unfair contract terms are some of the rights that are missing in the current draft. If the pro-consumer clauses are altered, who can be blamed if the intermediaries mis-sell the product? Indians in the higher age group have invested in the product to get positive returns; they did not buy the policy to lose 65%-70% of premium paid. IRDAI should never have approved Jeevan Saral product for sale to those above 50 years of age.

 
 
Consumer Court: According to Mr Patil, “I have met the Ombudsman office staff. They agreed with me that LIC should have mentioned two sum assured, one saying at the time of maturity and second at the time death during policy period, in the proposal form which we signed at the time taking policy.There are so many policyholders, mainly senior citizens, who are duped. Wrong information was given by LIC itself and their representatives all over India. LIC has lost the case in consumer court in Kolhapur (Maharashtra). A senior citizen (Mr Runwal) took LIC to Kolhapur consumer court. All three judges have given their decision against LIC. One of LIC’s pamphlets was admitted by LIC as part of the marketing material. LIC deposited the money in court and has taken the complainant to the state commission. It may end up in Supreme Court (SC). My question is: To get our money from LIC, should everyone approach the SC?”
 
If Maturity Amount Blank/ Incorrect in Policy, You May WIN against LIC
The Jeevan Saral discrepancy in the policy bond showing blank maturity SA or incorrect SA is a reality. If you have Jeevan Saral with blank or incorrect maturity SA, you are lucky, as you may win if you take up the fight before the ombudsman, or a consumer or civil court. Many policies issued during the years 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 did not show the maturity SA. The amount may be blank for policy bonds issued from 2006-07 onwards also.
 
LIC is fighting with agitated senior citizens who are filing cases in ombudsman offices, consumer courts and even civil courts. The intention of LIC is clear. It does not want to pay a single rupee and, hence, is taking the cases to higher court even when the decision goes against it in the lower court. But, ombudsman decision is binding on them and hence LIC is trying to find a way out of its troubles. LIC knows it has lost such cases and will again lose in future. To pre-empt it, LIC has issued periodic circulars to its staff to intimate policyholders regarding correction of discrepancies in policy bond. (Read the latest circular dated 26 March 2018). 
 
 
What LIC is trying to do is sheepishly hide its blunder of not specifying the maturity SA or having incorrect maturity SA in the policy bond. LIC wants to update these policy bonds so that the policyholder cannot cry foul of having policy bond discrepancy and, hence, demanding death SA to be paid on policy maturity. If you are lucky to have Jeevan Saral with blank or incorrect maturity SA, do not let LIC do the correction. Instead, immediately haul LIC to ombudsman office to demand death SA to be paid on policy maturity. Do not let LIC cover up its blunder. Take the opportunity and demand justice for being sold a lemon by the behemoth.
 
 
 
Why Senior Citizens Should NEVER Buy Life Insurance
 
Ideally, by the time you retire, your need for life insurance should be zero. Senior citizens should never buy a life insurance product; but they are the perfect targets of insurance companies for their investment products. Most such products offer low insurance cover for those at higher age. The cover may be only seven times for those above the age of 45 years, making the maturity amount taxable. This is another good reason for staying away from such products. Many single-premium products offer low life cover, of 1.25 times premium, for all ages. It means that the maturity amount will be taxable for everyone. LIC's New Bima Bachat is an example of a policy that has taxable maturity amount. And, Bima Bachat has been an evergreen product for LIC, in the words its own executive director.

Even if the life cover is 10 times or more to ensure that maturity amount is tax-free, those in the higher age group should stay away as the returns are low due to higher mortality charges for life risk cover. The higher the age and/or life cover, the lower will be returns for the investment component. The returns can even be negative if mortality charges take away a big chunk. Customers of age 50+ years buying an insurance-cum-investment product having cover of 15-20 times premium are taking a high risk for their investment, as high mortality charges will put a dent in the investment and end up making losses.
 

 

So, there is hope for Jeevan Saral policyholders. IRDAI should intervene and help policyholders. After all, IRDAI is also to blame for approving a toxic product, knowing that senior citizens will end up losing their hard-earned money. Where does the buck stop? Will justice ever be served? Or should senior citizens just give up, thinking that their loss is due to indirect tax from the government levied via LIC? 

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COMMENTS

Ravindra Bhosale

3 months ago

CA has wisely written it with insistence on senior citizens & miss selling, the plan was unique & got golden peacock award. It was a transparent plan covering higher risk at early years say up to 10 to 12 years. Therefore there was locking of 10 years minimum. The plan had equal premium for all ages. However maturity values are different for different ages, as the age is higher returns are less as the mortality cost is more. The guaranteed maturity values were given and printed on policy bond paper. The value increase as the period increase. There are loyalty additions after completion period of ten years. It's variable part depending up on surplus which is to be credited to policy holders account. The main future of the plan is risk cover, on death 250 times amount of monthly premium + refund of all premiums excluding first year premium+loyalty addition if any. It means the cost of insurance is only one year premium, this provision is not there in any other insurance plans , therefore the plan was unique. It's unethical to say a high risk insurance cover plan is not good for investment. Many learned people who are against lic write such articles. With hiding the facts.

REPLY

Metal Forever

In Reply to Ravindra Bhosale 3 months ago

Mr. Bhosale. By your defensive stance, it appears that you must sold ton of Jeevan Saral policies yourself. Stop acting like a dimwit and please acknowledge that it was a bad flaw by the insurer for not making it clear about the ROI. Much like me, there are many people who are facing the same problem so perhaps you don't actually the understand the gravity of the situation.

Nadir Cazi

7 months ago

I bought this in 2013, and soon after realized/learnt that an investment+insurance product gave us neither, and took an HDFC term plan.

Jeevan Saral term: 20 years;
age at which started: 27;
yearly premium: 42,035/-;
death SA: 8,75,000;
maturity SA: 9,65,000/-

Waited to complete 5 years for surrender, and learnt that will get surrender value of 1,65,000/- against premium paid to-date of 2,10,000/-

So, do I surrender, let it turn into paid-up (stop further payments), or continue paying till 10 years (when Loyalty addition kicks in, and gives SOME returns) and THEN surrender?

varadharajan vs

9 months ago

Buyer beware or simply Caveat Emptor is principle when you buy any insurance policy.

Awareness about delinking insurance and investment is need of the hour

NITIN JANARDAN BARVE

9 months ago

This policy is good for younger age. For higher ages the Maturity value will be less considering higer moratality charges.

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