Small tips to ensure smooth insurance claims settlement By ARUN BALAKRISHNAN, BERKSHIREINSURANCE.COM Insurance claims settlement can often be a long-drawn and hassle-ridden process. We have all heard of instances where the claim is held up for months and the settlement ultimately received is dissatisfactory to the claimant. If the claims do not come through, this defeats the very purpose of insurance – to ensure peace of mind in the face of any financial trauma. One of the chief reasons for claim rejection is lack of understanding among policy holders about the policy details and claims process. Errors and omissions while filling the application form also contribute to rejection or delayed settlements. By taking some precautions and following a few simple procedures, one can avoid the hassle oft-associated with filing a claim. The following steps can help ensure a smooth claims experience. Information disclosure: Adequate and correct information disclosure is a must while filing an insurance application. A large number of claims end up getting rejected because the policy-holder fails to provide all material information. For instance, withholding information about pre-existing diseases or conditions like high blood pressure or being untruthful about lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking can lead to rejection of health and life insurance related claims. Although such disclosures may lead to increase in premium, they are important to avoid unnecessary worry in the long run. Sometimes, one may need to update the insurer on some change in circumstances post the purchase of the policy. Any changes in the risk profile of the policy holder must be promptly conveyed to the insurer. Failure to intimate the insurer regarding some seemingly trivial facts can also lead to rejection of the claim. For example, in case of motor insurance, if a car is transferred from one city or state to another, the change in address must reflect in the registration certificate. The same should also be intimated to the insurer. Buying a policy online can help reduce errors and oversights, since online application forms are smart forms which prompt the buyer for relevant details while filling the form. Premium payment/policy renewal: It is critical to be regular with premium payment. Timely renewal of policies due to expire is also a must. A lapsed policy would naturally be of no use should an eventuality occur. One can opt to pay the premium as a lump sum or in installments. These payment options vary company to company, so talk to your insurer about the options available to you. If you choose the latter option, make sure you keep track of payment/renewal dates to avoid any default. Nowadays, not only can one purchase an insurance policy online, insurers also offer the facility of making the premium payment or renewing the policy on the online platform. For consumers hard pressed for time, this is a handy solution. Timely claim registration: Be sure to intimate the insurer within the stipulated time limit as per the policy schedule. The time limit would depend on the type of policy. For instance, motor insurance claims generally need to be filed within 48-72 hours of damage occurrence. In case of health claims, the insurer must be informed at the time of hospitalisation, even if it is a reimbursable rather than a cashless claim. Documentation: One must collate all documents supporting the claim and submit them in one go for rapid settlement. Details of documents required for claims settlement as well as the claims forms are available with the policy pack as well as on the portal or company website from where the policy has been purchased. Also, it is important to store the original policy documents in a safe yet accessible place as the original copies need to be submitted while filing a claim. Again, an online policy can take care of this requirement as the policy form and manual would be stored in soft copy as well. Understanding the terms & conditions: One should go through the fine print to get a clear idea of the policy terms. Proper knowledge of all riders, benefits and policy exclusions is a must so that one does not get a rude shock later. Proper research prior to the policy purchase is necessary to equip one with all relevant details. One can opt to do this online on aggregator sites which provide easy comparative assessment of various policies.