I hate 'terms and conditions'

Samarjit Kambam *

'Rules and Laws' for the government. 'Terms and conditions' for the private corporations.

At the initial phase, your attention gets absorbed by the advertisement for any product be it a palpable item or a financial one.

Say, a company may advertise for investment in mutual funds citing benefits galore, benefits that momentarily carry your mind to the other side of the moon but at the end of the advertisement you will definitely come across a phrase stating, "Mutual Funds are subjected to market risks".

Insurance companies are the ones with the greatest number of terms and conditions.

Now-a-days, over and above insurance companies of the country comprising of public sector and private such as Life Insurance of India, National Insurance Company, Oriental Life Insurance, New India Assurance, ICICIPruLife, Birla Sun Life, Bajaj Alliance, Reliance Insurance, Tata AIG, Bharti AXA etc etc., there are umpteen multinational insurance companies treading their feet in India such as Max Life, Aegon Life, Edelweiss Tokio, Aviva, IDBI Federal, India First Life etc., all registered under IRDAI.

The traditional way of life insurance has become old school due to neck to neck competition among various insurance companies and fast evolution in the insurance sector thereby coming up with eye-catching plans and packages to attract more clients.

Now-a-days, one has the privilege to be a policy holder for whatever insurance plan one wants be it for life or vehicle or house, small or large scale industrial sector through the Net thereby saving time as well as the commission you have to pay to the insurance agent who never stops talking.

I had not bought any insurance policy until recently when I was just browsing the Net I came upon a policy of a new life insurance policy. Sorry, I won't expose the name of the insurance company, it would be too unethical.

The policy was advertised at Rs. 490/- p.m. with a life coverage of 1 Crore rupees. Quite attractive. I was totally brainwashed by the ad of that policy so I intended to purchase the policy.

As I started to fill up the application form online, I was stuck and could not get any further when I was on the verge of completion of filling up the form. During the moment, an agent from the company rang up to me telling me the reason for getting stuck.

I was told that as per my monthly income I am not eligible for the Rs. 1 Crore, so I had to reduce it to Rs. 80 lacs or below. Lastly, I went for Rs. 70 lacs. Only then, the application form could be completed.

In the ad was mentioned coverage for 34 critical illnesses, accidental benefits, disability benefits and a host of others but as I delved in deeper I found out that they were only Riders which I had to pay extra for the additional coverage/benefits.

One ironical thing I found out was that the policy turned out to be a Term Cover Insurance not Whole Life Coverage and the policy holder's minimum age should be 18 years and the maximum number of years of coverage is 32 only.

Now, let's do the math. When an 18 year old opt for this policy and by God's grace, if the policy holder lives beyond 50 years (18+32), then all the premiums he had paid for the 32 years can be considered as 'lost money' since there is no condition for refund of sum assured with bonus in that policy.

That means the policy is not insured throughout life after all. The term 'life coverage' should not have been mentioned in the ad of that policy. The ad was really misleading and unfair, just like an act of foul play.

I don't mean to imply that its detrimental to buy such a policy. There's nothing wrong in opting for such kinda policy even if you are only 18 years old as we can't predict our lifespan. We may die any second, any minute, any hour or any day as there are lots of unseen contingencies around us. However, the terms and conditions coming up are quite disappointing.

The policy is meant for persons who have reached their middle ages but duping people with ads containing words such as "Rs 1 Crore Coverage for Life" is totally unscrupulous. This happens to many other policies of almost all insurance companies as terms and conditions keep on cropping up every step as you delve in further leaving you in a frustrated state.

As for me I have already bought the policy for I have reached my middle age and apart from unforeseen contingencies, I can feel the vibration within myself that living 30 years from now on seems quite dim to me due to a lifetime of bad habits and sedentary lifestyle.

Now-a-days with insurance companies as thick as thieves, new policies are coming up like bees in a beehive. The ads of the new policies will steal your heart for some moments but as you introspect deeper, you will come across so many terms and conditions.

Sometimes the policy goes divergent or totally in contrast to what was promised earlier in the ad. Many a times I have witnessed 'coerced registration' to become a policy holder of an insurance company of certain policies by the insurance agents/advisors. They are really good talkers. They can talk a barrel out of a tin can and are quite manipulative also.

Even if the policy holder doesn't know anything about what is being talked about, they anyhow manages the incumbent to buy the policy. They will talk about future benefits, taking loan from one's own policy, rider benefits, ULIPs, portfolios, investment in equities & stocks, free risk taking, exemption from taxes, lumpsum pay out plus regular income, flexibility of the policy, non claim bonus, annuity, settlement option, subrogation, mitigation…. endless blah blah.

The policy holder usually ends up feeling like watching a Chinese movie in Chinese subtitles. Cool.

Better not to go straightaway for an insurance policy just because the insurance agent/advisor says so. They will talk only about the bright sides and benefits of the ibid policy.

So, you need to go through the brochure thoroughly and I am sanguine that many terms and conditions will arise. I am not against insurance of any kind. Buying an insurance with life coverage is in fact one of the greatest acts of responsibility you take for your family.

However, before going for an insurance policy of any sort, you thoroughly need to delve into the terms and conditions of the policy so that you don't regret later on for buying a policy not suited to you. Further, it is not advisable to take financial decisions under insurance agent pressure, family pressure or any other peer influence. Assess before you buy a policy and the decision should be purely yours.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on March 27 , 2018.

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