Govt amends ombudsman guidelines; main modifications in dealing with insurance coverage complaints

Today News Online Service
New Delhi, March 3 

With the Centre on the cusp of privatising state-held insurance companies, the Government has notified major amendments to the Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017 to improve the resolution of complaints regarding deficiencies in insurance services in a “timely, cost-effective and impartial manner”.

The amended rules have enlarged the scope of complaints to the Ombudsmen. From only hearing disputes, the Ombudsmen will also tackle deficiencies in service by insurers, agents, brokers and other intermediaries. Insurance brokers have also been brought within the ambit of the mechanism by empowering the Ombudsmen to pass awards against insurance brokers as well, stated an official news release.

Under the amended rules, the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of the mechanism has been substantially strengthened.

Policyholders can now make complaints electronically to the Ombudsman. There are plans to set up a complaints management system to enable policyholders to track the status of their complaints online.

Further, the Ombudsman may even use video-conferencing for hearings. To enable access to relief through the Ombudsman mechanism even when there is vacancy in the office of a particular Ombudsman, a provision has been made for giving additional charge to another Ombudsman, pending the filling of the vacancy.

Several amendments have been made for enabling independence and integrity in the Ombudsman selection process, while also building safeguards to secure the independence and impartiality of the appointed persons. The selection committee will now include an individual with a track record of promoting consumer rights or advancing the cause of consumer protection in the insurance sector.

The Ombudsman mechanism was administered by the Executive Council of Insurers, which has been renamed as the Council for Insurance Ombudsmen. 


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