The insurance ombudsman for Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Chandigarh has decided more than 9,000 cases in the past two years.
Former Haryana IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer Manik Sonawane, who took over as insurance ombudsman in September 2012, said on Tuesday here that disposing of 9,132 cases in two years was a record for the grievances cell of Insurance Regulatory Development Authority, insurance-sector regulator.
Sonwane said there had been a steady rise in the number of complaints coming to the ombudsman, and efforts were on to settle the maximum number of cases. “In the current financial year, more than 1,700 cases have been decided,” he said.
The ombudsman, speaking after meeting a group of insurance company representatives on Tuesday, said Bima Lokpal Day was observed every November 11 to mark the creating of the institution of insurance ombudsman. “It is a quasijudicial grievance mechanism that the central government created to redress the complaints of individual policy holders. Its objective is to resolve insurancerelated complaints out of court in a cost-effective, efficient and impartial manner,” he said.
Sonawane said individual policy holders could approach him with a complaint, if the insurance company had failed to resolve the issue or not responded within 30 days. The complaint should pertain to any policy one has taken as an individual and the value of the claim, including expenses claimed, should be below ` 20 lakh.
The ombudsman acts as a counsellor as well as a mediator. “It tries to arrive at a fair recommendation. If the policy holder accepts the decision regarding final settlement, the ombudsman informs the insurance company, which has to comply within 15 days. If settlement by recommendation does not work, the ombudsman can pass an detailed reasoned order mentioning the award within three months of receiving the complaint,” Sonawane said.