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Published in Mint on 4th June, 2017. Written by Abhishek Bondia

I live in a residential society and I am the residents’ welfare association (RWA) president. In the general body meeting (GBM), we decided to buy life insurance policies for five of our security guards, three maintenance staff, and three housekeeping ladies. Can you suggest which policy we can buy and approximately how much would it cost? Are any discounts available if you buy policies in bulk?

—Raj Rajeshwari
You could buy either an individual term life insurance policy for these employees or buy a group term life insurance. A group term life insurance policy is an annually renewable policy. Herein, you can add or remove employees during the year. If employees leave midway, you will get a refund for the remaining period in the policy. If someone joins, you would be charged premium, again only for the remaining period. Premium for group policies are generally lower than individual policies. Only a few insurers offer group coverage for small groups and generally have a minimum requirement of 10 employees.
The other option, individual term life insurance policies, is a long-term policy. Here, premium varies for each person based on age, tobacco use, and duration of the plan chosen. For a 30-year-old, coverage of Rs25 lakh for 15 years, costs about Rs2,500 a year.

I am planning to take a life insurance policy for my driver. An insurance agent tells me that he will get it done without going through the trouble of medical checkups. I sense something is fishy. What should I do? 

—Bhargav Krishna
Not all life insurance policies require a medical check-up. Especially if the sum assured is low and the prospective insured has a clean medical history, insurers may not ask for a medical check-up.
To ensure that you do not get caught in a scam of any sort, you should take care of the following three things.
First, ensure that the proposal form is filled and duly signed by you. You should not leave blank fields for the agent to fill. Also, all questions should be answered truthfully and with complete disclosure by you. Second, submit all necessary Know Your Customer (KYC) documents, such as PAN card. Third, make the payment only in the name of the insurer. Do not make payment in favour of the agent or any third party.
Policy docket will be directly delivered to you by the insurer via post. Policy docket will contain a copy of the proposal form and documents submitted. If there is any discrepancy, you can cancel the policy under the free-look period.

My husband passed away recently due to heart attack and we submitted all the documents for the insurance claim. It’s been more than 6 weeks and the company hasn’t satisfactorily replied to how long the process will take. Is there any stipulated time within which they are supposed to reply? How can I file a complaint against them?

—Kritika Singhal 
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has stipulated timelines for various types of services. A life insurer is expected to raise claim documentation requirements within 15 days of the claim being lodged. In case there are no investigation requirements, they are expected to settle the claim within 30 days of receipt of all the complete documents. If there is an investigation requirement, they can settle or repudiate the claim within 180 days.
If you have submitted all the documents and have not heard back from the insurer for more than 30 days, then you should file a complaint.
First, you should file a complaint with the grievance cell of the insurer. Submit your complaint in writing along with the supporting documents, and take a written acknowledgment of your complaint with the date. The insurer should deal with your complaint within 15 days. If the grievance is still not addressed, you should escalate the complaint to Irdai. You should write to the Grievance Redressal Cell of the Consumer Affairs Department of Irdai. Second, apart from going through the grievance redressal route, I would recommend you reach out to a senior person within the insurer’s claims department. Often, poor response from customer services department is due to lack of training or poor systems. If the matter is brought to the attention of the right person, the matter may get addressed promptly.