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Published in Mint on Jan 12 2017, Written by Abhishek Bondia

I own a car that is 6 years old. I have been diligent with properly insuring it every year and have never taken any claim. Its renewal is due in January. However, I have been with my son in the US since November last year, and will only return in March this year. I do not remember any details of the insurance policy and don’t have my car registration papers here either. Please advise on what to do. Will I have to insure afresh when I get back?

—Manish Parashar
If you are unable to trace details of your current policy, then this policy will lapse. Your car will remain uninsured between January and March. When you come back in March, you can apply for a fresh policy. The insurer will carry out an inspection of the car before issuing you fresh coverage. Any existing damage on the car will not be covered in this new policy. The good news is that you will be able to carry forward your no-claim bonus for up to 90 days after your current policy expires. In your case this will be a substantial benefit, i.e., 50% of own-damage premium.
When you buy the new insurance policy, you should provide your email ID to the insurer and broker. They typically send advance renewal notices on mail with an option to pay online, if required. This will help you avoid a similar situation in future.

I work with a multinational in Kolkata. For the past 6 years, I was allotted a company-owned car for my use. No insurance claim was made on the car during any of those 6 years. I now want to buy my own car. Can I avail the no-claim bonus while insuring my own car?

—Rajesh Verma
If you plan to buy the same car from the company, then the no-claim bonus can be carried forward from company’s name to your name. You would need to submit a certificate from your employer that the car was exclusively used by you and that the vehicle has been transferred to your name. Based on this, the insurer will transfer the no-claim bonus benefit to you.
If you buy a new vehicle, then you cannot get the no-claim bonus from company’s car transferred to your name.

I am 33 years old. I took a health insurance policy of about Rs30 lakh 5 years ago. The policy was issued after all the regular medical tests were done. At that time I was a teetotaller. In the past 2 years, however, I have become more social and enjoy more than the occasional smoke and a drink. Should I inform the insurance company about my new habits? What are the advantages or disadvantages of doing so?

—Shivam Chautala
Insurers require you to disclose complete information about your health at the proposal stage only. You are per se not required to disclose your health status or any change in habits to the insurer, either during the policy year or at the time of renewal. Since you underwent a full medical underwriting at the time of policy issuance, you have completed the required obligations on your part. Making an additional disclosure to the insurer has no advantages.
As such, there are no disadvantages to informing the insurer about an adverse information as well. The insurer can do little after a health insurance policy is issued. These policies have guaranteed renewal for life. So, insurers cannot refuse renewal if an insured’s health status deteriorates. Further, the insurer cannot increase renewal premium for a specific insured, irrespective of their claim history or health status. Premium can be increased only linked to age, that too it has to be consistent for all policyholders.
Only if your policy lapses or you seek an increase in sum assured, can the insurer ask you to undergo a medical underwriting again. You would need to disclose your then prevalent smoking and alcohol intake.