GUWAHATI, Nov 11 - On the occasion of Ombudsman Day today, the Guwahati office of the Insurance Ombudsman organised a meeting where members of civil society, insurance officials (including intermediaries), and aggrieved policy holders took part.
The objective of celebrating the day is to review the current strategies and formulate a new roadmap for the future, and to create an opportunity for interaction with a cross-section of stakeholders for facilitating better services.
The institution of Ombudsman is a public utility service available to all policy holders free of cost.
Later, addressing a press conference, KB Saha, Ombudsman, Office of the Insurance Ombudsman, Guwahati, said that out of 472 complaints disposed of in the north-eastern states during 2018-19, an overwhelming 401 were from Assam, five from Arunachal Pradesh, 20 from Meghalaya, one from Mizoram, 11 from Manipur, ten from Nagaland and 24 from Tripura.
A look at the State-wise number of complaints reveals a glaring disparity which, according to Ombudsman officials, is basically due to lack of awareness at grassroots level.
�As a quasi-judicial and administrative institution, the Office of Ombudsman has very limited means to reach out to the public at large. In this situation, we depend on the electronic and print media for creating widespread public awareness,� Saha said.
The Guwahati unit of the Ombudsman during 2018-19 disposed of all the 572 complaints received during the year.
�Not a single complaint was outstanding as on March 31, 2019. During the current year also, our performance is excellent. As against the benchmark guideline of 90 days, we could resolve most of the cases within 30 days,� an official said.
The Office of Insurance Ombudsman Guwahati had started functioning from May 12, 2000, and it caters to the requirement of all the seven states of the North East including Assam. The geographical jurisdiction is spread over areas that are very difficult to access for a major part of the year, making the job more challenging.
�The institution of Ombudsman primarily helps individual policy holders to get a fair deal from the insurance companies which sometimes get involved in murky business engagements knowingly or unknowingly that are heavily loaded against unsuspecting individuals. Huge asymmetry of information is responsible for this,� Saha said.
Out of the 181 awards given by the Guwahati office during the year, 120 had gone in favour of individual policy holders and only 61 were settled in favour of insurance companies.
�While analysing the complaints, we have observed that most of the �mis�-selling is being done by the corporate agents. Telemarketing is the source of �mis�-selling. Moreover, in case of health insurance, companies are over depended on TPAs and most of the companies do not have an internal system of checking the decision of the TPAs,� Saha added.
One can log on to the website www.ecoi.co.in to know more about Insurance Ombudsman.