This year’s floods have already claimed many lives across the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra and many people are still missing, according to news reports. In Kerala alone, about 2.51 lakh people have been moved to 1,639 relief camps and at least 2,966 houses have been damaged completely. While the loss caused is massive and it would take long for the states to get back to the state of normalcy, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has advised insurers to take immediate steps to mitigate hardships of the affected insured population by ensuring immediate registration and easy settlement of eligible claims.
Insurers have been asked to fast track the claims settlement process by appointing nodal officers in the flood-hit regions and by setting up toll-free helpline numbers. The regulator has asked all general and health insurers to survey claims filed by flood victims immediately and ensure all payments are disbursed immediately. Insurers have also been asked to appoint adequate number for surveyors and launch awareness campaigns in the flood-hit areas.
If there are any death claims and death certificate is difficult to obtain, Irdai has advised insurers to follow the process followed in case of the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir floods which was also adopted when the 2015 Tamil Nadu floods occurred.
Claims filing process
If you are affected by the floods, you may be busy putting back your life in order now that the floods are receding. But it’s also important to assess the damages to your assets and file your insurance claims soon to avoid rejection due to delayed filing. Policyholders must try and intimate the insurer about the loss immediately either by writing to them or calling on the toll-free number at the earliest possible. In case of a natural calamity like floods, eligible claims should be notified to the insurer at the earliest because a delay could mean further consequential damage allowing the insurer to deny payment.
When calamities like floods occur, most insurance companies send advisory messages and it is important to take note of the instructions to avoid further damage to your assets. For instance, if your vehicle is submerged in water, do not try to clank or push start the engine. Also, don’t turn the ignition on once the water has receded because it could result in a short circuit in the electrical system. Instead, inform your insurer and let it tow the vehicle and examine the damage. The more you delay, the more you expose yourself to the risk of rejection of an insurance claim. Most policy documents usually mention the notice of claim and a delay beyond that gives the insurer an upper hand to decide whether or not to approve the claim. In case you were unable to file the insurance claim and there has already been a delay, inform the insurer about the reason for delay. If it’s a genuine reason, most insurers do accommodate your claims in such a situation.
“Don’t panic if you’ve misplaced your documents. Every policyholder should have this assurance that not having the insurance document is not a matter of concern. If you don’t have the policy documents, call up your insurer and they will help find you the policy. Most companies can find your policy details by submitting basic details such as your phone number," said Tarun Mathur, chief business officer- general insurance, Policybazaar.com.