Why the Hell is Insurance the Subject Matter of Solicitation?

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

Growing up, I was always encouraged to ask questions by my family. Life has been a lot more interesting this way: thanks to this childlike curiosity that hasn’t left me in all these years, I’ve always spoken up with questions, great and small. As KBC viewers will attest, Mr. Bachchan (no less!) agrees with me, with his line “koi sawal chhota nahi hota!”

When I started up at Coverfox.com, I was obviously ready with an arsenal of questions centered around insurance. But first, a couple of basic questions: why is insurance a subject matter of solicitation and what does this even mean?

The first part: "insurance"

Simply put, insurance of any kind is a practical instrument of investment, to safeguard oneself from the debilitating financial crunch in the off chance of things taking a turn for the worse. So your superstitions aside, with insurance you can live life with a little less stress and a little less worry and do more with your awesome life, because you know, #YOLO! (You Only Live Once, for the uninitiated)

Like your colourful personality, insurance comes in various shapes, sizes and forms. There’s life, health, motor, travel for starters. There’s also home, pet, marine and the truly bizarre ones, namely, and I kid you not, the Lady Gaga of insurance: insurance against alien-abduction!

On to the second: "is the subject matter of solicitation"

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has made it mandatory for insurance companies, agents and brokers to announce clearly in all their communication that insurance is the subject matter of solicitation. Translation: insurance isn't a ready-made standard product like say, a bar of chocolate, that can be sold outright, it has to be discussed, understood. The right offering suited to your specific needs and requirements has to be considered taking into accounts, the terms, conditions and exclusions. Companies can only "offer to sell" it. And what changes with the addition of this simple word?

By way of including this small line, insurance becomes a product that you-the-customer must evaluate carefully after you have understood all its features, rules, conditions and exclusions. The onus of buying an insurance policy with its terms lies with the customer solely. Sounds familiar? Well yes, buying a house is exactly like this. There is no pre-packaged sale, and the buyer must be careful regarding terms, value, customization, fit and so much more. This in effect also means that you have all the rights to inquire about the product, understand the benefits, conditions, disclaimers and exclusions before you make your decision. Only when you are fully satisfied with what you are getting into should you go ahead (that annoying, pushy agent be damned!).

The Insurance Document: A Maze of Words

An insurance document is essentially a contract promising to take care of your financial liability, like your hospital bill (in case of health insurance), car repair bill (in case of car insurance), cost of your stolen/lost/damaged household items (in case of certain kinds of home insurance) etc. subject to certain condition and exclusions. To know all the details at length and to zero in on the best ones most suitable to your individual needs is a daunting task for the best of people. Now you must wonder, how will you ever be able to navigate yourself through all of this? Are you leaning towards procrastinating this decision once again?! Fear not, for rescue is at hand. With this great responsibility, also comes great power to you! Enters the scene: the insurance broker you need!

Your expert friend in need: the insurance broker

An insurance broker is a person/entity that is a channel, licensed by the IRDA, between insurance companies and you. By getting a broker’s licence, he/she is entitled and qualified to explain to you the necessary features/benefits/exclusions of the insurance products you are considering to buy. To put it simply, a broker is your expert friend, who is on your side, working to get you the best product most suited for you. Remember, brokers work with a standard commission from all insurance companies, an important point to note, since it allows them to remain unbiased. If the need should ever arise, your broker will also help you navigate the somewhat confusing process of claims.

Just like anybody is free to fight their own court case, but no one ever does without a lawyer by their side, you can very well buy your own insurance yourself. But it’s best to find a good insurance broker. It is the broker’s responsibility, just like a good lawyer’s, to advise you about the best insurance, most suited to your individual or your family's needs and requirements. The broker has experience right from advising on the best product, to knowing the ins and outs of the claims process and the nuances of the renewal process. Not only will they hand-hold you through it all, some will also give you the whole gamut of buying, managing and renewing your policy together, in one place. Coverfox.com

This not only saves you the hassle but also saves you a great amount of time too!

Know that curiosity never killed the cat, the ignorance and not-asking did. (And since she never bought the right insurance policy, the kittens grew up resenting her for it!)

What other questions about insurance haven’t you ever asked?

Curious? Got more questions? Fire away at the patient folk at Coverfox.com in the comments section below.