1.1. In the insurance sector, like in any other financial service sector, keeping the vulnerable public protected from unfair practices is of utmost importance. Unfair practices could arise in a scenario of increasing number of insurers, intermediaries and insurance products and severe competition for business. To address these concerns, IRDA already has in place regulations laid down for intermediaries, which among others address issues relating to the point of sale. IRDA also requires that the agents and brokers and all those intermediaries having the function of sales, are properly qualified and trained.
1.2. On the responsibility of the intermediaries to take into account the needs of the prospect while giving advice, the following provisions already exist in the various relevant regulations:
(i). IRDA regulations for Agents/Corporate Agents:
Regulation 8 (1) (c) of IRDA Licensing of Insurance Agents Regulations, 2000 and Regulation 7(2) (c) of IRDA Licensing of Corporate Agents Regulations, 2002 stipulate as follows: “every insurance agent shall disseminate the requisite information in respect of insurance products offered for sale by his insurer and take into account the needs of the prospect while recommending a specific insurance plan.”
(ii). IRDA regulations for Brokers:
Under the Code of Conduct prescribed by IRDA regulations for brokers it is stated that “Every insurance broker shall ensure that the policy proposed is suitable to the needs of the prospective client.”
1.3. Hence, IRDA Regulations already stipulate that intermediaries have to study the needs of a prospect before recommending a particular insurance policy/product. This requirement is termed as Need analysis in certain jurisdictions and Suitability Analysis in certain others.
Today, the IRDA Regulations address the concept of Needs Analysis in a general way. There is, however, scope to modify and improve upon the existing provisions in order to ensure that the prospects are guided properly to take informed decisions regarding insurance products.
(a). Is it sufficient to require (in a general way) to ensure that the needs of the client are taken care of ? Perhaps there is a need to be more specific. There is a need to set standards and procedures for Needs Analysis before an intermediary makes a recommendation to a prospect about a particular product.
(b). Ideally, it should be the insurer’s responsibility to monitor this role of the intermediaries. Hence, IRDA should require insurers to establish a system to supervise the recommendations made to customers by intermediaries so that the insurance needs and financial objectives of consumers are adequately addressed. In case of brokers, it should be the responsibility of the insurer to review the recommendations made by them to the client when responding to request for insurance. However, the standards themselves should be set by the IRDA in the form of additions/modifications to the IRDA Regulations for Protection of Policyholders Interests.
1.4. Why is a Needs Analysis required? Generally, consumers do not have enough information to determine whether the product recommended to them is the ideal one. Not only would they not know if it was ideal or not, they quite often would not have understood what their commitments to pay premiums / various charges are nor would they have understood how exactly the policy works and what the benefits and or returns would be. While it is required of intermediaries to give complete information including benefit illustrations about the product recommended at the point of sale, a structured Needs Analysis that takes into account factors such as age, annual income, financial situation and needs, investment objectives, intended use of the policy benefits/returns, financial time horizon, existing assets and insurance policies, liquidity needs, tolerance for fluctuations in value of the fund, tax status etc is necessary to ensure that the product recommended is most suitable for the prospect.
It is therefore proposed to amend the IRDA Regulations for Protection of Policyholders Interests to include provisions for the necessity of preparation of a Needs Analysis document by the agent/broker, as applicable.
a) The proposed provisions would prescribe the factors to be taken into account by the agent/broker for preparing the Needs Analysis format, as indicated in the draft format attached to this document.
b) Where a prospect refuses to co-operate in giving information for the required analysis, it must be recorded by the agent and counter checked and recorded by the insurer and in all such cases, the agent/broker shall be given exemption from preparation of the Needs Analysis document.
c) There should be proper monitoring of implementation of Needs Analysis by insurers of all the intermediaries they deal through. Insurers shall record the presence/absence of a duly filled in Needs Analysis Document in respect of every proposal they receive.
d) Training curriculum for intermediaries should give high priority to Needs Analysis. The respective provisos in the Regulations for Brokers, Agents and Corporate agents would also need to be modified suitably simultaneously.
Insurers, general public and consumer bodies are requested to respond by 5th July, 2010. E-mails may be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org
LIFE INSURANCE NEEDS ANALYSIS DOCUMENT
Agency / Broker Name :
Licence No. & Validity Details :
DETAILS OF PROSPECT
|Telephone ( Landline/Mobile)|
|Date of birth|
|State of health||Excellent/Very good/Good/Moderate/Poor|
|Number of dependants|
|Details of dependants||1||2||3||4||5|
|Date of Birth|
|State of health ( Excellent/Very good/Good/Moderate/Poor)|
|Whether financially dependent|
|Any scope for expansion of family||Yes/No|
|Length of service|
|Whether covered under pension scheme|
|Normal retirement age|
|Name of Member|
|Savings and Investment|
|Other ( to specify)|
|Value of savings and assets|
|Details of liabilities|
||Projections per annum|
|Food, shelter, clothing and other living expenses such as transportation ,expenses, utilities etc|
|Vacations and other travel expenses|
|Other commitments such as insurance premium, various contributions etc|
|Life Insurance ( Death/Maturity)|
|Desirable Sum Assured|
|Desirable limit of coverage per annum|
|Savings and Investment Planning|
|Desirable returns per annum|
|Desirable pension per annum|
|Childhood/Young unmarried/Young married/ Young married with children/married with older children/post-family or pre-retirement/retirement|
||Life & Health/Savings and Investment/Pension|
Note: Mention ‘in Rs’ etc wherever applicable
I /We hereby certify that I/we believe that the product recommended me/us above is suitable for the prospect, based on the information submitted by him/her, as recorded above.
(Signature of Agent/Broker)
The above recommendation is based on the information provided by me. I have been explained about the features of the product and believe it would be suitable for me based on my insurance needs and financial objectives.
(Signature of Prospect)