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New Draft of Guidelines Issued by IRDA for Insurance Marketing Firms

It would be possible for an insurance marketing firm to retail insurance policies alongside other financial products such as mutual funds

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) recently issued draft guidelines for insurance marketing firms.

An insurance marketing firm will now be free to market insurance policies along with other financial products such as mutual funds that are approved by financial sector regulators.

These products would be sold by two kinds of licensed persons: an insurance salesperson, who will be responsible for marketing insurance products alone, and a financial service executive, who will take care of other financial services, such as offering financial advice, sale of mutual funds and the national pension system, or NPS.

These licensed individuals would be mandated to obtain qualifications and licenses from the respective regulators. Insurance agents cannot become insurance salespersons, and the latter can’t be promoted to agents unless they have active salesperson license.

Financial service need to have a certificate from regulatory bodies. For instance, to sell mutual funds, it is mandatory for them to be certified by the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI). For distributing NPS, they have to be certified by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA), and for selling financial products regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), they necessarily have to obtain registration as investment advisers under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Investment Advisers) Regulations, 2013.

In case of insurance, salespersons will be involved in requisition of insurance policies, but their remuneration won't be commission-based. The role of the salespersons will be inclined towards being a broker in the sense that customers' interest will be of sole importance to them.

For a company that wishes to become an insurance marketing firm, it requires to have at least Rs10 lakh of net worth at all times and even has to buy a professional indemnity insurance policy that is four times the business turnover of the marketing firm. The license is granted for three years.

As per the draft, insurance marketing firms would be able to charge commissions according to the Insurance Act. In addition to this, these would also be allowed to charge a fee on account of marketing costs, costs inclined towards infrastructure and performance-based incentives.