Many companies offer mobile phone insurance cover. But how transparent is the process?
Mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives. The recent growth of mobile phone usage is a phenomenon that defies all gender, racial and age boundaries. Mobile handsets are more than just the latest electronic gadget in the market and are as expensive as high-end electronic devices these days.
Thus, when we lose a mobile phone, we stand to lose not only our valuable contacts but also our investment. And, to recover the money at least, mobile phone insurance emerges as a solution as this saves a person against several risks such as theft, damage and accident. Of course, insurance cannot get back the contacts information stored! For that, one needs to be pro-active in taking back-up on a regular basis.
These days, we find many companies offering insurance cover when we purchase a mobile phone. However, how transparent is the process and how easy is it to get the claim amount, in case of an eventuality, appears to be a big question.
A few months ago, Vivek purchased a mobile phone worth Rs. 14,800 from a well-known dealer in the city. The particulars in the bill included a tag that the cost was inclusive of mobile theft insurance. Other than this, no further details were provided. Recently, while travelling to his native place, Vivek’s phone was picked from his pocket.
On his return after three days, he approached the dealer to make his claim. He was surprised when he was told that he had to register a police complaint and later, on obtaining the ‘not traceable’ certificate, submit papers that should include a complaint letter, the claim form, acknowledgment of original SIM deactivation or SIM replacement with seal of the service provider and the original invoice. None of these facts were mentioned at the time of purchase!
Vivek did as he was told and forwarded the required papers to the insurance company. Nevertheless, his claim was rejected on the ground that there was delay in filing of complaint with the police – should have done immediately or within 48 hours of theft.
Also, only then was there a paper attached that contained details about the policy – coverage, exclusions, documents to the produced at the time of claim and the terms and conditions - the first of its kind, as the company had failed to inform/disclose any of this information earlier. In addition, the terms and conditions included the information that for all settled claims, only a credit note would issued in the name of the insured for the settled value, which could be redeemed at any of the dealer’s showroom. Vivek has represented the matter to the insurance company and is awaiting a response.
On the other hand, we also hear of instances where it is understood that a few consumers deliberately tamper with the instrument in order to get a replacement. Insurance companies are vary of such practices and are, therefore, rigid with the exclusion policy and other terms and conditions. Though this is understandable, it does not justify the fact that genuine and affected consumers are harassed due to lack of information.
Thus, there is a need for the insurance companies to be more clear in their approach and make available all details related to the policy even at the time of purchase.
(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details / queries contact 2491 4358 / 2446 0387 or firstname.lastname@example.org)