IRDA committee to overhaul grievance redressal in PSUs

Chennai: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has constituted a four-member expert committee to study the grievance redressal system that exists in the government owned insurance companies — the four non-life and LIC — and recommend measures to improve them. The committee will also study the existing regulations relating to the protection of policyholders and suggest measures to strengthen them.

The committee will be chaired by Vepa Kamesam, managing director, Institute of Insurance and Risk Management (IIRM), and the other members are Dr H C Jain, executive director, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Asha Nair, deputy general manager, The New India Assurance Company Limited, consumer activist, Pushpa Girimaji. Yegnapriya Bharath, officer on special duty, IRDA will be the convenor / secretary.

The detailed terms of reference are:

(a) Study of the existing redressal systems in the public sector units (PSU) to identify the good features and shortcomings.
(b) Study of the systems of private insurers to identify the good features and the shortcomings.
Study the published information / web-based systems existing in insurance companies abroad.
(d) Study the published information / web-based regulations and guidelines existing abroad on grievance redressal systems in insurance.
(e) Formulate guidelines for implementation of grievance redressal systems in insurance companies.
(f) Suggest modifications, if any, in IRDA regulations relating to Protection of Policyholders' Interests, 2002.

In the past, there have been cases where insurers willfully delay honouring court judgments and awards by the insurance ombudsman; the companies do not even take any disciplinary action against delinquent officials.

In an interview to domainb (Get ready for next phase of reforms) the IRDA chairman C S Rao had said, "IRDA takes a very serious view of insurers delaying honouring the ombudsman awards. Ombudsmen are playing an extremely important role in resolving customer grievances. The companies have also given an undertaking at the time of grant of licenses that they will abide by the awards of the ombudsman and we expect them to honour those commitments. There may be some technical issue but the companies cannot take those instances as an excuse to delay the genuine complaints of insuring consumers. We look at not honouring the awards of ombudsman as an adverse feature in the governance of insurance companies."