All those of you who have or are planning to buy any insurance policy from ICICI Lombard — be very careful! These guys are employing every trick in the book to mint money from unsuspecting customers.
I have a two-wheeler motor insurance policy from ICICI Lombard (number 3005/53282672/00/000) that expires on January 14, 2009. When I got the policy renewal letter this year, I found that the premium had gone up to Rs. 1020 from Rs. 780 last year. Surprising, considering the vehicle hadn’t gotten any newer! And there was no break-up of charges given either.
Luckily, I was able to get the break-up of charges on the ICICI Lombard website. After going through it, I found that they had not only hiked the basic premium, but had also added two optional covers without my permission:
– Personal accident cover for unnamed passenger: Rs. 140
– Legal liability for paid driver: Rs. 25
Of these, it was the second one that really had me stumped! A “legal liability for paid driver” implies that if I’ve hired a driver to drive the vehicle and he meets with an accident while driving it, then the insurance company will take care of compensating him or his family for his injury or loss of life. Now, obviously no sensible person is going to appoint a driver for a bike! So why would any insurance company add this option to a two-wheeler policy! And to top it, there was no way to remove these add-ons either.
So I called up ICICI Lombard customer care at 1800-209-8888 and asked for an explanation. The smart aleck at the other end obviously knew precious little about insurance or IRDA regulations, but that sure didn’t stop him from fibbing his way out of my questions.
I asked him why ICICI had added these optional covers without asking me. To this, he said that IRDA had made these covers mandatory from this year. I said I didn’t believe him. Why would the IRDA make something like paid driver’s insurance cover mandatory?? Surely they were smarter than that! To this, he said he would confirm the same with his senior. He put me on hold to confer with his senior, who apparently was of the same opinion that these add-ons were now mandatory.
I told him I still didn’t believe him. I asked him to give one logical reason why IRDA would pass such a rule. At this point, he suddenly changed track and started muttering something about how “legal liability for paid driver” wasn’t really an insurance cover for a paid driver, but had something to do with third party damage!
Now I was getting really pissed at this guy’s foolish answers. I asked him, what the hell was third-party cover for then? He again mumbled something that didn’t make any sense to me. Finally I got fed up and told him that unless ICICI agreed to remove these add-ons from my policy, I would move to another insurer. He again mumbled the same thing about IRDA having made it mandatory and stuff.
By now, I realised that this guy was either very stupid or he had explicit instructions from his managers to justify any additional charges on customers in any manner possible, never mind whether it made sense or not. I said OK and banged down the phone.
Clearly, this is a ploy by ICICI to make money from unsuspecting customers, as they know very well that many people will just pay up without even bothering to check the break-up of the charges. I never expected that ICICI would stoop to this level to boost their income.
I have made up my mind to move to another insurer, probably Bajaj Allianz. But I don’t want to leave this matter here. I want to let the senior people at ICICI know what lies their customer support people are telling customers.
ICICI Lombard’s website mentions a Ms. Preeti Lochan (Manager, Service Quality) as the second point of contact, if customer support is not able to resolve queries satisfactorily. I have mailed her. Let’s see what she has to say. Hopefully she’s far more sensible than her customer service folks! If not, I’ve wasted some more time…
Update: Jan 27, 2009
Finally I wrote a mail to Ms. Preeti Lochan via ICICI Lombard’s website. I actually thought it didn’t go through, because I got some server error when I submitted the complaint. So I was surprised when she called me.
I appreciated her for having called me and explained the whole situation. She heard me out and apologised for the whole issue, but tried to justify her customer care’s lies saying that they probably didn’t know the rules fully! Well, if that’s the case, then they shouldn’t be sitting there, should they? I didn’t like her justifying their action.
Anyway, she called again after two days and said that I can renew my policy without the add-ons. But by then I had already moved to Bajaj Allianz and I told her that. I also suggested to her that they allow adding/removing add-ons on the website while renewing the policy online. She said she’ll look into it.