For the last few years I have been renewing the fire insurance policy on my house with Bajaj Allianz. It seems to me that fire insurance is probably a low margin business and gets very low attention from the insurers. Unlike car insurance, where the insurance companies themselves vie with one another to send you email offers, and one can renew it online easily; nothing of the same happens with fire insurance.
Please don’t bore us with boring fire insurance policies
I have seen the same scenario happening in last few years when I had renewed the fire insurance policy. This time I tried to create an online profile at Bajaj Allianz insurance to see if online renewal may be possible. It wasn’t the case last year, if I remember. I was able to register myself as a user and add the car insurance (also from Bajaj Allianz) policy to it. But adding of fire insurance failed with a euphemistically worded reason which seemed to suggest that I had done something wrong while entering policy data. See excerpt of email below received on 20th Dec 2014:
We thank you for using our customer portal to manage your policies.We regret to inform you that your
request to add the policy OG-14-1701-4001-XXXXXXXX in your customer portal account has not been accepted
as the details in this policy does not match with the details of the policy you had entered the first time OG-15-1701-1801-XXXXXXXX.
In any case, I didn’t believe it one bit and later when I called up their toll free number, I was told that it is not possible to add this type of policy online. That was not surprising. I was given the same option as last year to contact the Bangalore branch for renewal.
In the past, sometimes they have sent a representative to the home to collect the premium cheque. Last time I happened to pay by cash at the branch while I was passing by the same area. Since I had plenty of time this time around before renewal date became due on 7th Jan 2015 (it’s today), so I decided to call up in advance and schedule a pickup of cheque or any other alternative.
Luckily I got a callback from them on 23rd Dec 2014 saying that it was possible to renew it over the phone IVR. I actually prefer to do transactions online, and I don’t believe phone IVR based payment is unsafe either; though I try to avoid it given one mistake in pressing a number can send you back to a previous menu and loss of all the previous effort!
So when I got a call from Bangalore branch’s official number 8067195000 about making a payment over the phone, I decided to do it right away on the assurance that a softcopy of policy will be sent next morning. This was on evening of 23rd Dec.
Well the payment of Rs 1,528 went immediately, but that softcopy is still lying on some server’s hard drive gathering zero electronic karma!
Did the credit card payment go into a black hole, or into scammers’ pockets?
Since I didn’t receive any policy for a week, on Dec 31st I sent a complaint to their official customer care email id:
I have paid Rs 1528 amount towards renewal of fire insurance policy OG 14 1701 4001 XXXXXX expiring 7 Jan 2015, over the phone using credit card payment, upon being called by your Bangalore office person from phone number 80671 95090.
I was promised policy will be received shortly but haven’t got it yet after 8 days.
CC pmt details are given below.
For the above email I had sent, I didn’t even receive an auto-acknowledgment email. Jai Ho! We all know the importance of saving paper, but saving on electronic bits seems to be taking things a bit too far, isn’t it?
But 3 days afterwards on Jan 3rd, I did receive an email acknowledging the issue and asking me to produce a good evidence of payment since according to them no payment had been received.
This is with reference to the below appended mail.
We would like to inform you that, you premium amount not received, so request you kindly provide us the bank statement which shows the amount is deducted in respect of “Bajaj Allianz Insurance Company” with bank logo in PDF format so that we can forward your query to the concern department and provide you the resolution as early as possible.
“Hmmm… now they haven’t received any payment even after 10 days, and maybe I should be worried that I have been scammed by gang which employs professional sounding women who offer to renew insurance policies over the phone if only you press the right numbers on your phone!”
I wasn’t worried about being scammed because the credit card alert email clearly said that the payment of Rs 1528 was made towards BAJAJALLIANZBILLDESK. Now it is a possibility that a gang may be operational which had registered themselves as credit card merchants using name of a well-known insurance company, and they could get it all done without any one raising an eyebrow at credit card/payment processor companies! But it is a very remote possibility.
Pick up the phone, let’s do things old fashioned way
Since I hadn’t received any response to Dec 31st email within 48 hours, and the renewal date was approaching by 7th Jan, and since I thought sending a PDF statement with bank logo was harassment rather than customer service; I decided to do things the old fashioned way and called up the Bangalore branch on Jan 2nd. After some ‘discussion’ with a friendly person (most probably security guard) who asked questions about who exactly renewed my policy over the phone, and that the concerned person was out right now, I managed finally to get a callback from the responsible person. She confirmed the name on policy and the renewed policy dates seemed correct too, and I was assured that softcopy will be sent immediately and they will dispatch the hardcopy also shortly.
I promptly received an email from her same evening with a PDF softcopy of the insurance policy, unfortunately the policy was last year’s expiring on 7th Jan 2015! I immediately sent an email asking for the renewed one instead.
This is last year policy expiry on 7 Jan 2015.
Pls send new policy from 8 Jan 2015 onwards.
Subsequent communication on same email thread on 6th Jan with same person was of no effect. Reproduced below:
Pls send me softcopy by today evening else I will put this and overall experience with bajaj allianz customer service on my blog. I don’t take it easy that after 15 days of paying premium, I don’t even get a softcopy.
Yesterday I received a hardcopy of the policy too, but it is last year’s policy which is expiring today and not the renewed one!
I recently received my PDF statement from the bank and was glad to open it and confirm that the payment of Rs 1528 did not go to some international money laundering organisation but to a merchant named very, very similar to insurance company Bajaj Allianz. What a relief!
But this could be a very serious matter indeed. An investigation needs to be done:
1. Who was the person who spoke to me on Dec 23rd and got the credit card payment done? That’s the most important thing to know, the fact that credit card statement as well as email alert mention “Bajaj Allianz” are very inconsequential not related to this most important issue, which needs to be investigated first.
2. Why did the Bangalore branch person send last year’s policy, not only by softcopy and by hardcopy. There should be an internal investigation to calculate loss of paper and cost of courier which added to global warming too.
3. Why did I not send copy of credit card PDF with bank logo to Bajaj Allianz customer service, and instead wasted my time on writing this blog post? How can ordinary people be allowed to write such blog posts pointing out shortcomings in service delivery of well-known international alliance of finance companies?
It’s a very serious matter indeed.