Are insurance firms fair to the fairer sex?

Are insurance firms fair to the fairer sex?


New Delhi: They have conquered many a male bastion whether it is driving an Auto-Rickshaw or playing a role in the armed forces. Women, in India, however have little option when it comes to taking an insurance cover.

As a matter of fact, in a country where there are 930 womenper 1000 men, Bajaj Allianz is the only company which offers insurance policies exclusively designed for women.

Recently, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) withdrew Jeevan Bharathi 1, a policy for women. “The policy wasn’t popular. It didn’t sell enough. So we withdrew it. We’ll bring out a new policy soon", Says Devraj Kashyap, Development officer at LIC.

However, Vinit Vidyarthi, Principal Officer at Almondz Insurance Brokers Ltd, says, “Jeevan Bharthi didn’t do well because it was not pushed well by LIC."

A Commonwealth Fund report ‘Women and Health Coverage: The Affordability Gap´, by researchers at the National Woman’s Law Centre, says that women are at a disadvantage because they have greater health care needs and lower incomes than men.

“Yes, We don’t have policies that are exclusively for women. But we understand that Women are equally at risk due to modern urban lifestyle," Says Soumi Rao, Manager of Public Relations at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.

“While most of the health risks women face are similar to men and hence the coverage required is similar, they are at higher risk for cancer and hence could look at buying cancer protection," he adds.

Bajaj Allianz offers two policies for women; one for Housewives and another for working women and the idea is to address the two main concerns of the women in general, savings and family welfare, says ECJ Augustine, Head of Sales, Bajaj Allianz.

“Women tend to live longer than men. Traditionally in Indian society the husband is 3-5 year elder than the wife, the result is women survives after the husband’s death for 7-9 years more. Therefore, during this period they need regular stream of income to live independently with dignity and confident," he says.

Adding that the women would be the next big target audience for many insurance products to come, Augustine says, “Today Women play a vital role in all decision making, be it regarding career, household matters or board decisions".

So what all should women keep in mind when they consider an insurance plan?

For health insurance, Agarwala suggests that women need to make “informed choices in getting the best possible care" and very particular about their needs.

“A lady should take into consideration her age, marital status, number of dependants and the even the kind of hospitals/ hospital rooms she would like to use in the event of hospitalisation, to decide the level of cover required," he says.

“The value of money is increasing by the day and insuring themselves would mean better importance in the family. And think of women who are the sole breadwinners of the family, the insurance would take care of their future and family too", Says Bhawya Joshi, a 23-year old media professional.