The Bima Vahak guidelines for the women-centric insurance distribution channel will be implemented concurrently with the introduction of Bima Vistaar, and the Bima Vahaks have to be deployed in each gram panchayat by December 31, 2024, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) announced in a circular on October 9, 2023.
The Irdai is in the final stages of defining the details for an all-encompassing standard insurance product called Bima Vistaar, which is slated for a launch soon.
Irdai said in a notification: “The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Bima Vahak) Guidelines, 2023, will be effective from the date of the launch of Bima Vistaar. This comprehensive insurance product will be issued in due course.”
Within these guidelines, the term “Bima Vahak” refers to either an individual, referred to as “Individual Bima Vahak”, or a legal entity, referred to as “Corporate Bima Vahak”, both registered in compliance with the relevant laws in India. These entities are engaged in providing services as outlined in these guidelines, unless the context indicates otherwise.
The primary goal of Bima Vahaks is to establish a dedicated distribution channel with a focus on women, aiming to enhance insurance inclusion and raise awareness in every village and gram panchayat. This initiative seeks to improve the accessibility and availability of insurance across the entire country. The objective includes the identification and development of local resources who not only understand and appreciate local needs, but also have the trust and confidence of the local population in their respective villages and gram panchayats.
Under the Bima Vahak norms, insurers are required to involve individual Bima Vahaks and/or Corporate Bima Vahaks to progressively extend coverage to every gram panchayat and deploy them in each gram panchayat by the end of calendar year 2024.
“Bima Vahaks shall be deployed in each gram panchayat before December 31, 2024. Lead insurers of each state and/or Union Territory (as in annexure), shall coordinate the deployment of resources to ensure maximum coverage of gram panchayats,” Irdai said in the notification.
Bima Vahaks will be involved in a range of activities, including completing proposal forms, fulfilling know-your-customer (KYC) requirements using handheld electronic communication devices, issue insurance policies, and provide coordination and support for policy and claims-related services.
The handheld devices carried by Bima Vahaks will empower policyholders to make premium payments electronically and facilitate the direct remittance of premiums to the designated bank account.
Irdai has mandated insurers to establish suitable systems, processes, internal controls, and infrastructure to ensure a smooth interface with all Bima Vahaks.