The amended rules have enlarged the scope of complaints to ombudsmen from only disputes earlier to deficiencies in service on the part of insurers, agents, brokers and other intermediaries
The government has amended insurance ombudsman rules, bringing insurance brokers within their ambit and also allowed policyholders to file online complaints, the Finance Ministry said on March 3.
The amended rules have enlarged the scope of complaints to ombudsmen from only disputes earlier to deficiencies in service on the part of insurers, agents, brokers and other intermediaries. The government on March 2 notified comprehensive amendments to the Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017, with a view to improve the working of the insurance ombudsman mechanism to facilitate resolution of complaints regarding deficiencies in insurance services in a timely, cost-effective and impartial manner.
Under the amended rules, the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of the mechanism has been substantially strengthened. Policyholders will now be enabled for making complaints electronically to the ombudsman and a complaints management system will be created to enable policyholders to track the status of their complaints online. Further, the ombudsman may use videoconferencing for hearings.
“Further, insurance brokers have been brought within the ambit of the Ombudsman mechanism, by empowering the Ombudsmen to pass awards against insurance brokers as well,” the Ministry said. “A number of amendments have been made for securing the independence and integrity of the ombudsman selection process, while also building in safeguards to secure the independence and impartiality of the appointed persons while serving as Ombudsmen,” the Ministry said. Further, the selection committee will now include an individual with a track record of promoting consumer rights or advancing the cause of consumer protection in the insurance sector.
The ombudsman mechanism was administered by the Executive Council of Insurers, which has been renamed as the Council for Insurance Ombudsmen.