Keep your insurance policies well serviced

It is your duty to renew policies on time, keep documents safe, assign nominees

In this column, over the past year, we saw how to buy various types of insurance policies including health insurance, life insurance, annuities, motor insurance and some property insurances.

One way of looking at insurance is that the policy you buy is not the product. The claim is. The implication is also that when you buy the policy your job is not over. You have to maintain the policy and administer it in such a way that you get your claim paid.

What does this involve?

Firstly, it means keeping your policy current and valid. Most people think it is the insurance company’s or agent’s duty to remind them about renewal and chase up the renewal premium. Maybe it makes business sense for them to do so, but it is really our duty to keep our policies valid by paying renewal premiums on time and ensuring we receive the policy documents and checking if they are in order.

Renewal in the case of non-life policies are more mission-critical because the typical policy is annual and actually expires in one year unless renewed.

So, if your policy expired yesterday, any claim that arises today will just not be payable. The policy itself can be renewed after a gap, but you can lose out on benefits during the waiting period for pre-existing conditions, or will have to fulfil some additional formalities like medical examination, or inspection in the case of a motor policy.

Considering this hassle, it’s not that difficult to put a reminder on your smartphone or your wall calendar/diary and renew your policy well ahead of time!

Renewal time is also an opportunity to review your requirements, enhance coverage, add family members to policies and so on. If you want to port your policy to a different insurance company, you need to keep the renewal date in mind as the formalities for this start about six to eight weeks ahead of the renewal date.

Keep your insurance company updated with your personal information whether it is your new mobile number or a change of address. This will help the insurer serve you better for renewals and, in case of a claim, you will be saved additional formalities at a time of distress.

The most important thing you have to do to maintain your policy is to ensure your nominations are in place. This applies to any policy that involves mortality.

Any type of life policy including annuities, hospitalisation policies and personal accident policies should have a clear nomination and you should file an acknowledged copy of it along with your policy for your records, or rather, that of your family members.

Another key duty is to keep your policy documents safe and in a handy place. Of course, we live in a digital age, but you have been issued a policy which is a signed, stamped bond and you should safeguard it and retrieve it at the time of need. Keep policies under lock and key. Higher value policies of longer term that need to be negotiated after you pass may even be kept in your bank locker which your heirs should be briefed about and should have access to.

Ensure your documentation is absolutely perfect to support your insurance claim. Address proof, identity proof, age proof, ownership proof in case of property insurances like motor and home insurance, your PAN card, bank details — since most claims are paid only through electronic channels — all these will help you sleep in peace, once insured. And when there is a claim, you and / or your family will find the process painless — exactly the kind of support needed during trying times.

(The writer is a business journalist specialising in insurance & corporate history)

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