Have you ever wondered about the line that accompanies every insurance ad, saying, ‘Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation’?  It just means that insurance policies cannot be sold but has to be requested or asked for and cannot be compelled. Legally, insurance is a product that should not be pushed by a seller, but should be pulled by a buyer.

However, the opening up of the insurance sector has created an army of insurance salesmen determined to insure you against anything possible under the sun.  A typical caller is persistence personified.

“Sir, we have a new scheme which will not only cover you for life but also give you good returns”.   I reply that I am already well covered and do not need any more insurance.

“Sir, this has been specially designed for you with benefits not found anywhere else.” The sales pitch goes on and nothing I say stops his flow. Ultimately, I bring out my powerful weapon that never fails.

“Do you believe in astrology?”

A little confused, he says, “Not much, Sir. But why do you ask?”

“I do. A very prominent astrologer has said that I will live at least until 75. Obviously, there is no point in my taking any life insurance”. This effectively silences him.

I get an email from an insurance company with a facility to easily calculate my car insurance premium as offered by them and that too in just 30 seconds. I promptly fill in the details and find that my premium works out to Rs.3250. Since I am paying Rs.4000 to my current insurer, I call them with the figures. It turns out that 3250 is the base figure. After adding third party insurance, second party commission, taxes etc., the figure jumps to Rs.4500.

Similarly, when I mention that I already have health insurance, the chap comes up with schemes that promise to pay my daily medical bills, checkup fees, diagnostic fees. They declare no cap on room rent, worldwide emergency cover, day care expenses etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if they come up with a scheme that reimburses band aid charges if you injure yourself by stumbling on a stone while going to the chemist.

Yet another ruse is to give you the impression that the premium amount you have to pay is a small amount. A typical ad says that you can get 1 crore cover for as low as Rs.15 per day. They hide the fact that it amounts to more than Rs.5000 a year. Perhaps, they may be more successful in claiming that you have to pay just 65 paise per hour.

An elderly ‘LIC’ uncle I know has been trying to sell me insurance for years. He had a booming business in the monopoly era and was finding it difficult to adjust to modern times. He would typically ask me to ‘just take a policy’ assuring me of good returns. When I pointed out that I could get better returns in other investment schemes, he looked blank. He seemed to have never faced a potential customer to whom he needed to sell among competing products. He was not interested in my needs, insurance coverage I already have, my future needs, nothing.

“All what you say is correct, just take one policy from me”.

I felt like telling him, “I have two TVs. Just take one.” The unstated premise is, don’t look too deep into it or compare it with others. Just buy one because I am saying so and I will get commissions every time you pay the premium.

I have finally decided not to take any more insurance policy with one exception. If someone has a policy that guarantees me immunity from sales talks, emails, calls etc. from insurance reps, I wouldn’t mind soliciting for it.

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