KOCHI: The delay in the new Insurance Ombudsman-designate assuming charge has put the policyholders and senior citizens awaiting settlements in dire straits. The absence of the Ombudsman has resulted in around 1,000 pending cases in the state since last June.
The Executive Council of Insurers (ECOI) - the governing body of the Insurance Council - had earlier selected K Sanath Kumar, former chairman and MD of National Insurance, as the Insurance Ombudsman in the state. However, he is awaiting Vigilance clearance before assuming charge which may take a while.
Till now, the ECOI has not come out with an announcement on the likely date of the new Ombudsman taking charge.
“It’s been a year since we registered a complaint with the Ombudsman regarding a mediclaim policy. However, they have not yet addressed the issue. The delay in settling the issue has put us in a difficult situation as we need to settle our debts after getting the claim amount,” said K M Mathews, an insurance policyholder.
Meanwhile, there have been complaints against the Insurance Ombudsman’s clerks who allegedly try to settle cases on their own without lodging complaints.
“AS per the policy norms, we are entitled to receive the full amount claimed for a year. Though the financial year is not mentioned in the policy norms, the clerks try to tinker with them making assumptions,” said Roy Varghese, a Mediclaim policyholder.
The authorities at the Ombudsman’s office are clueless on the date on which the new Ombudsman will take charge. “K Sanath Kumar was given the offer on February by ECOI and, till now, there has been no announcement. To proceed further, he needs Vigilance clearance,” said a senior officer at the Insurance Ombudsman’s office.
The ECOI comprising IRDAI chairman and Finance Ministry appoints the Insurance Ombudsman. The person must be either a retired MD of an insurance firm or retired High Court judge or retired IRS, IAS, IFS officer.
“P K Vijaykumar, the former Insurance Ombudsman of the state, had retired in September 2016 and grievances were addressed by a judge in Delhi. The last hearing was held in June last year. Since then, no hearing has taken place, resulting in the cases piling up,” said an officer at the Ombudsman’s office.
“The government is taking a lackadaisical approach as far as policyholders are concerned. Cases are piling up and grievances are not addressed,” said Chandran Tottumpuram of General Insurance Agents Organisation.