Court takes a hard stand on insurance mis-selling
But the government feeds off money collected by new insurance policies each year
The way life insurance is manufactured and sold in India is much like a trap, with regulators, companies, sellers and ombudsmen all colluding to defraud households of their money. The trap works like this: you have a bank that you’ve banked with for years. There is trust. The bank has a relationship manager. This manager pitches a product to you. He may do so because he sees a balance that is investible or a sudden inflow of retirement money or a bonus or some other lump sum. But a product is pitched. The pitch is verbal. The merits of buying this product are explained in great detail. Brochures are shown, numbers are circled, final return values are discussed. Words like ‘mutual fund with free insurance’ and ‘guarantee’ are commonly used. You trust your bank. You believe the manager and say yes. Thirty seconds later the money is transferred to the product—the paperwork will happen. We’ll fill the forms and you just sign. Because you trust your bank, you agree. The policy documents come after the money has been invested, you try and read, but they are so complicated that you get on with your life. It was your banker who sold you the product and he said, ‘We’re there for you. Don’t worry.’ You believed him.