General Insurance policyholders can now heave a sigh of relief. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), in its latest guidelines, has stated that policyholders who have signed the discharge voucher’ or settlement intimation voucher, can now lodge a complaint against the insurer if they are not satisfied with the claim amount. Insurers would now have to listen to the plea of such policyholders. While vouchers are issued in all types of insurance policies, complaints arise more in motor and fire insurance policies.
According to IRDAI, “the Authority has been receiving complaints from aggrieved policyholders that the said instrument of discharge voucher is being used by the insurers in the judicial fora with the plea that the full and final discharge given by the policyholders extinguish their rights to contest the claim before the Courts. While the Authority notes that the insurers need to keep their books of accounts in order, it is also necessary to note that insurers shall not use the instrument of discharge voucher as a means of estoppel against the aggrieved policy holders when such policy holder approaches judicial fora. Where the liability and quantum of claim under a policy is established, the insurers shall not withhold claim amounts. However, it should be clearly understood that execution of such vouchers does not foreclose the rights of policy holder to seek higher compensation before any judicial fora or any other fora established by law.”
As reported by The Business Standard, Mr. Arvind Laddha, CEO, Vantage Insurance brokers, said, "At the time of settling claims, the policyholder has to sign the voucher. In many cases, insurance companies refuse to pay any claim if the policyholder did not sign the voucher. So, often the policyholder would sign thinking that he can get at least some money. While earlier policyholders used to find it difficult to go to court once they signed the voucher, now following IRDAI's clarification, they can still purse the case if they are not happy with the claim amount.”