Mumbai: The launch of the much-touted affordable insurance product Bima Sugam is likely to be delayed beyond the August timeline as regulator IRDAI is working on fine-tuning the product, which will help deepen insurance penetration and simplify the claim procedures. Bima Sugam once launched will serve as an online insurance marketplace, similar to an e-commerce platform, where insurers have the opportunity to offer and sell their products, while consumers can buy or renew their policies, raise claims, and receive all the related services at a single place.
Last month, IRDAI Chairman Debasish Panda met chief executives of some leading insurers in Mumbai to give a new thrust to the project and onboard them by August 1. The regulator is also pushing to implement another high-tech project Health Claims Exchange.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Insurance Brokers Association of India (IBAI) on Friday, Panda was evasive on the proposed launch date, saying that this a very complex platform and so is the product, since it is a bundled one wherein a customer has all the choices to choose from. "We are working to make the platform and the product as glitch-free as possible," Panda said when asked about the launch date.
While a faster completion of proposed Health Claims Exchange was discussed with CEOs of general insurers, the Bima Sugam plan has been finalised with select CEOs of life and non-life players. The Health Claims Exchange is being set up by the National Health Authority. The platform will digitise and simplify the process of filing health insurance claims. The proposed process is not only quick and hassle-free but also reduces the cost per claim to the insurer, while policyholders and hospitals can track the claim status online and it also enables automatic fund transfer of the claim amount.
The exchange will also help insurers to have a unified platform for claims and policyholders' medical history, which will help reduce the number of insurance frauds. The regulator has been working on Bima Sugam since June 2022, and some of the basic features have undergone changes for the easy implementation of the project. All insurance requirements, including those for life, health, and general insurance (including motor and travel) will be met by Bima Sugam. It will be owned 47.5 percent each by life and general insurance companies while brokers and agent bodies will own 2.5 percent each.
Under Bima Sugam, there will be e-Bima or E-IA account for policyholders in a demat format to facilitate more safety as there is no requirement for maintaining and safekeeping physical documents and creates ease for policyholders at the time of renewal with no paperwork. Bima Sugam, which shall have linkages with UIDAI, NSDL and CDSL, will pave the way for startups that are adopting a sandbox approach in terms of unique offerings such as OPD covers etc.
The IRDAI chairman also said that the regulator is working on a draft to address the main pain points in the claim settlement process and also to make the ombudsman network faster and customer-friendly. "Yes, I know there are many pain points in the claim process. We are working on a draft to resolve them as much as possible. Similarly, we are also working on making the ombudsman network more meaningful," Panda said.