IRDA has twin objectives of development of the industry as well as protection of the policyholder. Both the objectives are interlinked and unless the policyholders’ interests are protected the industry cannot achieve the required penetration. The policyholder protection acquires much more significance for IRDA as the rural population is either totally illiterate or financially illiterate. The role of the agent becomes crucial in educating the rural policyholders about the features of the product and the consequences of taking certain protection and not taking certain protections from the insurance. Further, the agents are supposed to educate the policyholders about the risks involved in complex products like ULIPs.
Hence, IRDA has been insisting upon suitably qualified and properly tested agents in the rural areas.
One of the main reasons cited by the researchers as well as the industry stakeholders is inadequate training as well as the testing of the agents who are selling the insurance products. To rectify the situation Authority has made available more than 220 online examination centres all over India. Further, the syllabus prescribed for life insurance agents was also revised to reflect the felt needs. From 1st December, 2011 NSE-IT, on behalf of Insurance Institute of India, is conducting all the examinations under new syllabus only.
On 15.10.2007 Authority has stopped accreditation to ATIs for new private players. The insurer has increased their reach by opening offices in ‘B’ & ‘C’ class cities. IRDA has been receiving large number of request to open up accreditation process for private ATIs, In view of the demand, it has been decided to open the window for new accreditation of ATIs for private players from 1st January 2012 to 29th February 2012. New guidelines are available at IRDA website www.irda.gov.in.