Till now insurance policies were in paper form, whether we submit our proposal application in physical form or through online mode. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) launched the insurance repository system on 16 September 2013 to provide better services to policyholders and enhance insurance penetration.
Now, our insurance policies including the existing ones can be converted in an electronic form and held with an ‘insurance repository’. E-policies will eliminate paper and associated risks of storage and loss and provide convenience and safety to the customer.
At present, only life insurance policies and pension plans are being allowed to be held in e-insurance accounts. However, the facility will eventually be extended to health, car, home and other types of general insurance.
Here's what you should know more about insurance repositories.
What is an insurance repository?
An insurance repository provides the ease of holding insurance policies issued in an electronic form. It maintains data of insurance policies in electronic form on behalf of insurers. Insurance repositories cannot sell insurance policies. They are authorised only to maintain the policies in electronic form and provide a service record of all insurance policies.
The insurance repositories will also act as a single point of service for all e-policies held by a policyholder.
The IRDA has licensed five entities — NSDL Database Management Ltd, Central Insurance Repository Ltd, SHCIL Projects Ltd, Karvy Insurance Repository Ltd and CAMS Repository Services Ltd — to act as insurance repositories. All the repositories will be regulated by IRDA.
Role of an insurance repository
The objective of creating an insurance repository is to provide policyholders a facility to hold insurance policies in electronic form and to undertake changes in the insurance policy with speed and accuracy.
In addition, the repository acts as a single stop for several policy service requirements. The insurance repository system also brings about efficiency and transparency in the issuance and maintenance of insurance policies. All services provided by insurance repositories are free of charge.
What is an e-Insurance Account?
e-IA stands for e-Insurance Account or “electronic insurance account”, which will safeguard the insurance policy documents of policyholders in electronic format. This e-insurance account will facilitate the policyholder by providing access to the insurance portfolio at a click of a button through Internet. A policyholder can open an e-insurance account with any of the five repositories approved by IRDA. You can't open multiple demat accounts, as IRDA allows just one e-Insurance Account per person.
- An e-Insurance Account will be opened within seven days from the date of submission of application complete in all respects.
- Each e-Insurance Account will have an account number and each account holder will be granted a 'Login ID and Password' to access their e-policies. e-Insurance Account is offered ‘free of cost’ to the applicants.
- An individual, who doesn’t have an insurance policy, can also open an e-Insurance Account. After buying a policy, the policyholder can give a request for dematerialisation to the insurer or insurance repository.
- To convert your existing paper policies into electronic form, a service request may be made to the insurance repository or insurer.
Benefits of holding e-policies
Safety: There is no risk of loss or damage of a policy. The electronic form ensures that the policies are in safe custody and can be easily accessed. A copy of the policy can be downloaded at any time by accessing the e-Insurance account.
Single point of service: With the repository as the single point of service, updating details like change of address or nomination will become easier, faster and more reliable.
Single KYC: You don't have to go through the KYC process every time you are buying a new policy.
Easy payout transfers: Policy benefits would be paid through electronic facility to the registered bank account, thus ensuring speedier and convenient settlement.
Role of an Authorised Representative
An e-Insurance account holder can appoint an authorised representative to operate his account in case of unfortunate demise or incapability of e-Insurance account holder to operate the account. The authorised representative will intimate the insurance repository about the demise/incapability of policyholder with valid proof.
An authorised representative has only access rights to the e-Insurance account in the event of demise of the policyholder. The authorised representative would only to act as a facilitator and is not entitled to receive any policy benefits unless designated as a ‘nominee’ or ‘assignee’ by the deceased policyholder.
How will the authorised person deal with the e-Insurance account?
After the demise of the e-Insurance account holder and after settlement of all insurance claims, the authorised representative needs to make a request to the insurance repository to close the e-Insurance account.
Grievances redressal mechanism
Every insurance repository will have a policyholders’ grievances cell to address the grievances in respect of repository services and electronic policies held by them.
Is it possible to shift from one insurance repository to the other?
Yes, the e-Insurance account holder will have an option to shift from one insurance repository to the other. All the policy details and transaction history would then be transferred to the new insurance repository.
Is it possible to opt out of the insurance repository system?
Yes, the policyholder should make a request to his insurer and upon completion of all formalities, the hard copy of the policy document will be made available.
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