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Still room for improvement

india Updated: Mar 27, 2011 21:45 IST
Arnab Mitra

Blame it on advertisements. Every medical insurer claims it is the best. And the truth is that almost every insurer does offer something that others do not. So, how do you decide which is the best for you?

To help you make the choice, we bring you the most definitive answer — the Hindustan Times-MaRS Survey of India’s Best Medical Insurers — which rated 15 top insurers on customer satisfaction on settlement and satisfaction on customer servicing.

The first which included six parameters like claim settlement, TPA responsiveness, speed of service, delivery of promised services, etc., while the second included parameters like ease of product enquiry, levels of transparency, quality and spread of hospital network, attitude of company agents, clarity of diseases covered and excluded, etc.

A word of caution will be necessary here. The final results were very close — meaning there isn’t a lot separating the best from the rest.

Our survey shows that Tata AIG and ICICI Lombard are the (joint) highest ranked medical insurers on customer service, while Star Health & Allied Insurance Co. comes out on top in claim settlements.

But the leaders don’t lead by a lot — a few points more on one or two parameters and less on a few others could have altered the results quite dramatically. Another caveat — overall, satisfaction levels aren’t very high, implying that all companies need to focus more on serving the customer.

Says Raghu Roy, managing director of MaRS, HT’s knowledge partner for this survey: “An industry average of 740 (out of a maximum possible score of 1,000) on claim settlement satisfaction is definitely not a great score. And that the highest score by any company is 765, only a few points above the industry average, also suggests that the claim settlement process may never make the customer fully satisfied. This is, perhaps, to be expected.”

This scenario is repeated in satisfaction with customer servicing. “Customers are not happy — the industry average is 746 (out of a maximum possible score of 1,000). One fact stands out: that companies do not exhibit high differentials from each other on this measure.”

An interesting finding is that the industry as a whole seems to be servicing customers better in Bangalore, Lucknow, Kolkata and Mumbai. Respondents in these cities gave the industry scores that are higher than the all-India average, both on customer satisfaction as well as satisfaction with claim settlements.

Bangalore is the only city to give scores of more than 800 on both these parameters (respondents gave scores of 811 on customer service and 810 on claim settlement).

Obviously, companies aren’t being able to replicate the Bangalore model elsewhere. This is most obvious in Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Ahmedabad, which gave the industry scores less than the national average.

One fact that stands out is that private insurers have stolen a clear march over their public sector counterparts. Except for Delhi, which ranked United India Insurance Co. first, none of the cities ranked any public sector insurer on top.
Clearly, every single company has a long way to go.