, India
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IRDAI to improve insurance accessibility in 'every nook and corner' of India

The regulator wants to ensure that each area has a dedicated "vahak" to sell and service straightforward insurance products.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has released guidelines to enhance the inclusion and accessibility of insurance products in the country.

Through the deployment of "bima vahaks" (BVs) in every gram panchayat  (cluster of villages), it focuses on making insurance products accessible in every corner of rural areas, ensuring that each area has a dedicated "vahak" to sell and service straightforward insurance products.

The Life Insurance Council and General Insurance Council are jointly responsible for setting operational and conduct standards for BVs, including educational requirements, commission structures, training, appointment terms, data confidentiality, and more. These standards will be periodically reviewed.

Each insurer must have a board-approved policy regarding BVs, following the standards set jointly by the councils.
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The IRDAI intends to fully deploy this by December 31, 2024. The BV channel also represents a women-centric approach to insurance distribution.

Insurers may engage Corporate BVs and directly appoint Individual BVs for the solicitation of insurance business and to facilitate policy and claims servicing. Insurers are responsible for the actions and conduct of the BVs they engage.

Corporate BVs can appoint individuals as BVs, solicit insurance products, and facilitate policy and claims servicing through their appointed Bima Vahaks.

BVs are authorised to sell and service Bima Vistaar and other specified insurance products, using handheld electronic communication devices integrated with the insurers' electronic platform. They also cannot collect fees or charges other than insurance premiums.

 

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