IRDAI has issued guidelines on e-commerce distribution of insurance policies allowing insurance intermediaries—agents, brokers, insurance marketing firms and web aggregators—to sell insurance policies by floating an e-commerce platform. The insurance regulator has termed such a platform as Insurance Self-Network Platform (ISNP).
Sharing the rationale behind introducing e-commerce insurance distribution, an IRDAI circular said that e-commerce in insurance would lower the transaction cost and bring higher efficiencies and greater reach. “E-commerce is seen as an effective medium to increase insurance penetration and enhance financial inclusion in a cost-effective manner,” the circular said.
IRDAI has launched a portal for the online registration of ISNP. IRDAI has asked insurance companies and intermediaries to register themselves according to ISNP guidelines to sell insurance policies on their websites.
Insurance companies and agents can apply for ISNP licence with a non-refundable fee of Rs10,000. IRDAI will review the application form and examine systems and processes before granting ISNP licence. IRDAI will give it’s go-ahead within two months.
In an earlier circular on ISNP, IRDAI had notified that insurers could decide pricing of policies sold through such platforms and offer differential pricing for the same product. The cost of buying policies online is, however, cheaper than buying them offline. The insurance regulator has allowed ISNPs to offer discounts to customers, but they cannot offer cash-back on policies.
The commission or remuneration of intermediaries would be the same as that of traditional channels. “A product sold through ISNP shall be entitled to commission or remuneration as specified under the IRDAI (Payment of commission, remuneration or reward to insurance agents and insurance intermediaries) Regulations, 2016,” the IRDAI said.
Experts believe that the move will help distributors extend their footprint.
Insurers and insurance intermediaries can log on to isnp.irda.gov.in to register themselves.