Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Narendra Modi, other top politicians keep faith with LIC for life insurance cover

Big-wigs of Indian politics appear to have full faith in good old state-run insurer LIC when it comes to taking insurance cover for their life while a few others have started trying private players as well. High-profile politicians who have taken policies of Life Insurance Corporation of India, the dominant India firm, include BJP PrimeMinisterial candidate Narendra Modi, Congress' Ajay Maken, and Naveen Jindal, among others, according to an analysis of their poll affidavits. Hundreds of poll contestants have life insurance policies with LIC alone.
Insurance penetration is a major issue in the country where there are just about 35 crore policies in force out of a total population of 120 crore. With private companies strongly coming into the picture in past few years, many politicians have taken life covers in both LIC and private players. For instance, JD(U) candidate from Paschim Champaran Prakash Jha has policies in LIC and Max Life Insurance. BSP's Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali and TMC's Sudip Bandyopadhyay have also taken policies in LIC, Kotak Life and Max. His party's Darjeeling candidate Baichung Bhutia has gone for LIC, Max Life and Bajaj Allianz.
Typically, insurance policy covers (sum assured) range from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 50 lakh in rare cases. Analysis of poll affidavits show that while in a majority of cases politicians have regular premium paying policies, some have have opted for single premium products. Interestingly, some political heavyweights like L K Advani, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sonia Gandhi have not listed any insurance policy in their poll affidavits. While it can be argued that 86-year-old Advani may not get an insurance cover citing his advanced age, the younger lot like 43-year-old Scindia, one of the wealthiest ministers, is also among those who have not mentioned any life cover in their affidavits. None of his family's immediate members, including wife Priyadarshini, son Mahanaaryaman and daughter Ananya Raje, have life insurance listed in the affidavit.
Among emerging political leaders, 45-year-old Arvind Kejriwal has not listed any insurance policy in either his name nor his wife Sunita's.27-year-old Rakhi Birla of Aam Aadmi Party, 32-year-old Chirag Kumar Paswan (son of Ram Vilas Paswan) of Lok Janhit Party, 41-year-old Jyoti Mirdha (and her husband Narendra) are among scores of Lok Sabha contestants who have not listed any policies in their election affidavits.

Irda slaps Rs 1.77 cr fine on Reliance Life

Insurance regulator Irda today imposed a fine of Rs 1.77 crore on Reliance Life Insurance for violation of various norms including obtaining business from unlicensed entities. "...the penalty of Rs 1.77 crore shall be remitted by the Life insurer bydebiting shareholders’ account within a period of 15 days from the date of issuance of this order...," Irda said in an order. It is observed that the Life Insurer has failed to monitor the activities of the corporate agent, it said, adding that this is considered as a serious lapse and the insurer is warned for the same. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) examined 47 charges leveled against the company including violation of advertisement and product distribution norms.
Instances are noticed where the business is sourced from unlicensed entities through Multi Level Marketing and was logged into the code of licensed entities, it said.Business was procured by forged signatures or without signatures at the space specified in the agents confidential report column, it added.Of the total charges, maximum penalty of Rs 65 lakh was imposed for soliciting insurance business from unlicensed entities.Irda said the business sourced through unlicensed entities was logged in various code numbers of Reliance Third Party Distribution Channel, which is one of the new business verticals of the insurer.
"Hence, under powers vested in Section 102(b) of the Act, a penalty of Rs 60 lakh is levied on the life insurer," it said.The regulator also slapped a fine of Rs 50 lakh for violation of marketing and publicity norms.There was issue with regard to payments to referral entities under contests. "It is observed that the insurer has made these payments to referral entities under contests in violation of provisions of Circular Ref. Irda/Cir/004/2003 dated 14/02/2003 and therefore a penalty of Rs 5 lakh is hereby imposed under Section 102(b) of Insurance Act, 1938," it said.Recently, Irda asked SBI Life Insurance company to refund Rs 275.29 crore to the policy holders as the amount was collected from them in violation of norms

Irda probes ICICI Lombard Insurance for alleged fraud in govt schemes

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has initiated a “focussed inspection” into alleged fraud in four government-sponsored insurance schemes meant for the poor by ICICI Lombard Insurance. It has also ordered a vigilance enquiry in relation to the schemes along with alleged fraud in Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. Responding to a letter sent by the department of financial services (DFS), the Irda said that it has already carried out an enquiry into the schemes by deputing an official at ICICI Lombard Insurance’s office.
“There is a focussed inspection currently being carried out by Irda with respect to the (four) schemes... Also, the vigilance department of Irda is also looking into the complaints regarding these schemes from the vigilance angle,” said the letter written by Irda to the finance ministry as on February 28, 2014  The schemes in question are - Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana, Weather Insurance Scheme, Shetkari Apghati Durghatana Bima Yojana, Panjikrut Kishan Durghatana Bima Yojana and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. When contacted by The Indian Express, a ICICI Lombard Insurance spokesperson said, “We are not in possession of the letter and it is between the Irda and the finance ministry and therefore we would not like to comment on the same.”
Pointing out the details of the allegations levelled against ICICI Lombard Insurance in the letter, the regulator said that in the period between 2009 and 2011, in the Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana (under ministry of textiles), while the schemes were meant for artisans, 11,445 khadi weavers (not eligible for receiving the benefits under the scheme) were fraudulently enrolled. It was further alleged that the company had misappropriated at least Rs 88 lakh.
Similarly, in the case of Weather Insurance Policy that was sold by the company to the Rajasthan government in the Ganganagar district during the period between January and March 2010, it was discovered that two-third of the 3,155 farmers covered under the policy were non-existent. It was alleged that the company settled claims by cheques even in the name of non-existent addresses and therefore kept the door of cheque discounting open. The authority’s investigation into the fraud showed that the company received a communication from the joint director, agriculture, seeking explanation as to why the claim has not been disbursed on 12/10/2010, and when the company explained the reason the government directed it to make the payments.
“The government called a meeting of all thestakeholders and subsequently directed the company to pay the claims under Weather Insurance Policy in Ganganagar,” said the Irda letter. In this case, the insurer made payments of Rs 14.37 crore as against premium of Rs 6.42 crore that it received. There were also allegations of bogus enrollments in Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana in the Uttar Pradesh where the scheme was introduced in 2009. The Uttar Pradesh government later approached the Irda after they were dissatisfied with ICICI Lombard Insurance on settlement of complaints relating to biometric cards. In another personal insurance scheme (Shetkari Apghati Durghatana Bima Yojana) of the Maharashtra government, it was alleged that the company settled only 638 claims out of 3,900 claims.
CBI registers preliminary enquiry
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against ICICI Lombard for allegedly colluding with officials of Rajasthan government and Union Agriculture and Textiles ministry and pocketing claims of non-existing farmers and artisans, official sources said. Commenting on the development, a ICICI Lombard spokesperson, in a statement, said, “In the referred cases pertaining to 2009-10, the company has settled claims far exceeding the premiumsreceived in the said schemes resulting in financial losses. As part of its continuous monitoring approach, the company during or after enrolment of beneficiaries, had initiated investigation on its own, through its in-house investigation function.”

CBI probes ICICI Lombard for alleged fraud

CBI today registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against ICICI Lombard for allegedly colluding with officials of Rajasthan government and Union Agriculture and Textiles ministries and pocketing claims of non-existing farmers and artisans. In the first case, CBI registered a PE against unknown officials of ICICI Lombard, Rajasthan and Union Agriculture ministries for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy and forging documents to seek insurance cover under the "weather-based crop insurance scheme" by the government, official sources said.
According to the scheme, ICICI Lombard used to insure crops in which the farmer had to pay 20 per cent of the sum of the premium where asremaining 80 per cent of money was shared by Rajasthan Agriculture department and Union Agriculture Ministry. The CBI alleged that officials of the insurance company made "bogus enrolment" of nearly 2,100 farmers to secure 80 per cent share of government thereby causing loss to the exchequer, the sources said. The CBI officials said this was a data of only Ganganagar district for a period of 2009-10 and the agency would be carrying out similar probes in other districts and states where the insurance company was undertaking this scheme. When contacted, the company said that it has diligently honoured claims in the schemes despitesuffering huge financial losses. "The company, during or after enrollment of beneficiaries, had initiated investigation on its own, through its in-house investigation function as part of its continuous monitoring process.
"Wherever any discrepancy was observed, the company on its own approached the concerned government body, sought necessary advise and promptly acted upon the advise so received," the company said in a statement. Another case pertained to "Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swathys Yojna" (RGSSBY) in which it was alleged that 11,000 artisans registered under the scheme were non-existent, the sources said.Both the cases were registered after a thorough internal probe carried out by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).Giving details of the cases, the sources said the weather insurance policy sold by the company to Rajasthan government raised eyebrows when a claim of Rs 13 crore was made by it.
It was alleged that out of the 3,158 farmers under the policy, 2,093 farmers were found to be non-existent and the insurance company started settling the claims by way of issuing cheques even in the name of non-existent addresses thereby keeping the door of cheque discounting open.
According to the complaint, the company has made the payments of Rs 14.37 crore asagainst premium of Rs 6.42 crore received and ICICI Lombard informed the regulator that all cheques had been distributed on individual names of farmers and not a single cheque was undelivered and all the cheque payments made were encashed by the claimants.In another case related to health insurance, the CBI alleged that people registered under it did not even meet the eligibility criteria for receivingthe benefits and were fraudulently enrolled for which the premium was taken from the government.
According to the PE, the insurance company had allegedlymisappropriated at least Rs 8 crore from the Government.The CBI claimed that no health cards were issued to the Khadi workers who did not qualify under the scheme.