Oriental Health Premium Hike Draws Protests
Complain about 40% hike, but insurer says revision overdue since ’09
Mumbai: State-owned general insurer Oriental Insurance has raised premiums on its individual and family floater policies by up to 40%, sparking complaints from policyholders. “My premium has shot up by 39%, despite not making a single claim last year. They have not conveyed the rationale behind this increase. We have only been told that it is approved by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI),” said Mumbai-based Oriental policyholder Ashok Khandwala, 76, who has a family floater policy that covers him and his wife, for close to 10 years.
“We have received a lot of com- p l a i n t s ove r s t e e p p r e mium hikes from our customers, particularly senior citizens,” said a senior official of an insurance aggregation portal on the condition of anonymity. While the premium hike for family floater policies came into effect last year, individual policyholders will feel the pinch this financial year when their policies come up for renewal. According to the company, the steep hike is a result of modifications in product features, correction of certain anomalies and the fact that premiums have been revised for the first time in seven years. “IRDAI allows premium revisions every three years. However, we had not effected any changes in our pre- miums since 2009. On an average, the increase has been around 25%. Had the hike been unreasonable, IRDAI would not have approved it,” said KK Rao, general manager, Oriental Insurance. New India Assurance and National Insurance had raised their retail health premiums in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
“Al s o , the increase is not across the board — we have corrected some anomalies in the rate structure. In some cases, the premiums would have, in fact, gone down,” added Rao.
Some insurance brokers attribute the sharp rise in retail premiums to the insurer’s intention to reduce its loss ratio – proportion of claims paid to premiums collected. “Their claim experience has not been very good. They could also be looking to compensate for losses on the group health side,” said an insurance broker who did not wish to be named.