In the HT-MaRS survey, customer satisfaction on customer servicing and interaction was measured using six parameters — product enquiry stage, purchase transaction, policy issuance, hospital network, renewal, and transparency.
And the public sector National Insurance Company (NIC) ranked third, coming after private sector Tata AIG and ICICI Lombard.
There was also that little matter about it being the only state-owned company to feature at all among the top five in terms of customer satisfaction. The survey was carried out among 2074 medical insurance policy holders in eight major cities of India — Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
While industry analysts said that the insurer had resorted to reasonable pricing, which went in its favour, insurance sector experts pointed out that claims settlement takes longer in NIC compared to its competitors, which might explain the third position.
“It takes about one to one-and-a-half months for settlement of claims in NIC,” said a leading third party administrator (TPA), on conditions of anonymity.
So what can public sector insurers do to get better in the area of customer satisfaction?
The four PSU insurers — National Insurance Company, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance — which together manage about R6,000 crore of health insurance business, complain about being saddled with a commercially unviable claims settlement ratio of 115%. They have to say that the way TPAs function also has a major bearing on customer satisfaction, and forming a common TPA is one way of cutting down on costs.
“The four state-owned general insurance companies are looking to engage a third party administrator to ensure that customers are not put through any major trouble especially when we have no health regulator, the process is on track and we hope to have one soon,” said NIC chairman and managing director NSR Chandra Prasad.
TPAs are intermediaries between patients and insurance firms. Typically stationed at hospitals, TPAs take care of the administrative process of mediclaim policies. “This arrangement will provide economies of scale to the four insurers,” said Prasad. NIC has set a claim settlement target for 2010-11 at 90%. And as Prasad lets in, “We are focused on customer service more than profits and business models.”
As Amit Mitra, secretary general of industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry puts it, “The emphasis has to be on consumer awareness and satisfaction, provision of quality health care, improved insurance services and greater collaboration and trust between insurers and healthcare providers.”