If you’re planning to travel to Ukraine or Belarus, watchout: your travel insurance may not be legitimate.
Two insurance firms from Ukraine and Belarus — Ukrainmedstrakh and Belgosstrakh, respectively — are selling travel medical insurance policies in India without the mandated permission or licence from the Indian insurance regulator, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
Their broker, Radiant Overseas, too is not registered with IRDA, but sells these policies to individuals travelling to former Soviet-bloc countries, including Ukraine and Belarus.
On its part, following complaints from travellers, IRDA is trying to get information on how these insurance companies and its broker are being allowed to do business in India, without registering with it. IRDA had written to the insurance division of the finance ministry about six months back but has not received any response so far.
“We do not need permission or licence from IRDA,” said Rajeev Rai Saxena, director, Radiant Overseas. “We are a service
provider in Ukraine. Therefore, IRDA rules/guidelines are not binding on us. We have the permission from other departments of the Government of India such as the finance ministry and Reserve Bank of India.”
IRDA wants the finance ministry’s decision to be reviewed. “We plan to take up the matter with the government again,” an IRDA official said. IRDA chairman, J Hari Narayan, could not be contacted as he was abroad.
Radiant Overseas was granted permission before the IRDA Act was enacted in 1999. the broker receives money for the medical cover in Indian rupees, while receipts given are in “Grevna” (the Ukranian currency).
This, says advocate Rajesh R Dubey, is violative of the India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). In his complaint to IRDA, Indian businessman Mahesh Shah said Ukraine Embassy officials “orally compelled” him to buy a travel medical policy from Radiant Overseas though he already had a National Insurancepolicy.
Education consultant Pramod Reddy said passengers were being forced to buy policy certificates of Ukrainmedstrakh and Belgostrakh on the basis of “false claims” that these were state-owned companies of Ukraine and Belarus.
When contacted, Ukraine Embassy officials said that no authorisation or written permission had been accorded by the Embassy to Radiant Overseas to conduct insurance business on behalf of any Ukrainian firm.
IRDA deputy director Rakesh Bajaj said he had received many complaints against Radiant Overseas over the past several months. “I have asked the complainants to forward their objections directly to the IRDA headquarters at Hyderabad,” he told HT.