Two-wheeler insurance policies to get cheaper, easier to buy

Monday 25, August, 2014 Comprehensive two-wheeler insurance policies would soon get cheaper once policies with three-year validity come into effect. Large insurance companies such as ICICI Lombard and Tata AIG General Insurance, apart from government-owned companies, are planning to launch policies with riders for customers. To enable long-term motor insurance for two-wheelers, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has introduced a long-term motor third-party insurance policy for two-wheelers with a three-year term. Irda said the total premium charged for the third-party coverage would be three times the annual third-party premium for two-wheelers as decided by the regulator. Motor third-party premium is regulated by Irda and the regulator brings out revised rates for these policies every year based on the claims experience. Third-party motor insurance is mandatory in India. The insurance regulator also said that the premium would not be revised upwards or downwards during the period of the policy. According to insurance industry executives, two-wheeler owners would opt for these, since there would not be any premium fluctuations for the three-year term unlike one-year policies where the premium would be revised every year. Sector officials said the firms would save costs by not having to renew policies every year. This, they said, would be passed on to customers in the form of discounts on the ‘own damage’ front. Customers would also get an option to stay with their one-year policy or opt for a three-year policy. Third-party motor insurance includes two parts, own damage that protects the driver/owner from accidents and third-party cover that covers liability from third-party accidents. Third-party cover is mandatory, while own damage is optional. General insurance companies have already planned to launch products. Madhukar Sinha, national head (personal lines) at Tata AIG General Insurance, said his company would file a product in tandem with the Irda guidelines. He added add-ons could be offered with the policies, subject to Irda approvals. "With respect to the pricing of the product, we are analysing the past trends for a suitable pricing mechanism." From April 1, 2014, third-party premiums in the two-wheeler category were raised by 9-10 per cent, compared with the proposed 1-45 per cent across segments - sub-75cc, 75-150cc, 150-350cc, and more than 350cc. Sanjay Datta, head of underwriting and claims at ICICI Lombard, had earlier said the insurer would launch a motor third-party policy for two-wheelers after filing the product with Irda. Thereafter, the company would file a comprehensive two-wheeler plan, he added. Irda also said that the entire premium would have to be paid in one installment and insurers would not be able to cancel the standalone third-party cover in any circumstances except for ‘total loss’. In case of cancellation of policy under total loss, premiums for the full unexpired years would be refunded. Non-life companies wanting to introduce these policies will have to submit a letter of intent to Irda. According to the regulator, since there is also a need to have long-term comprehensive cover including own damage and third-party covers, insurers can also file three-year term comprehensive policy for two-wheelers. While the ‘own-damage’ motor segment covers losses to self during accidents, motor third-party covers liability to a third-party caused by a vehicle owner during an accident.

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