The IRDAI has issued draft guidelines for Bima Vahaks, a new initiative aimed at enhancing insurance inclusion and penetration in rural areas.
A Bima Vahak may be an individual or corporate entity that is appointed by insurance companies to solicit insurance business and to facilitate policy and claims servicing.
The objectives of the guidelines for Bima Vahaks are to:
a) Establish a dedicated distribution channel that is focused on enhancing insurance inclusion and creating awareness in every Gram Panchayat (village or small-town level), thereby improving accessibility and availability of insurance in every nook and corner of the country.
b) Identify and develop resources locally who understand and appreciate local needs, especially encouraging, onboarding of women who as Bima Vahaks can gain the trust of locals for the distribution and servicing of insurance products.
The appointing insurer holds full responsibility for the actions and conduct of the Bima Vahaks. The guidelines outline several key requirements and policies that insurers must adhere to. These include rules governing the appointment and engagement of Bima Vahaks, territorial allocation, educational qualifications and training standards, code of conduct, operational workflows and standards, use of electronic handheld devices, setting up of retail outlets, deployment of technology, the confidentiality of policyholder data, payment of a commission, operational and compliance requirements, and database management of policies solicited through Bima Vahaks.