A natural calamity is an uncertain event, which comes with disastrous loss of life and materials. Chennai floods have once again shown us the strength of nature, incidents that are often called an “Act of God”, specially when it comes to applying for insurance claims.
These natural calamities are so sudden that they don’t only cause loss of human life but also a loss of assets, in terms of immovable properties, valuables, vehicles, equipment, movable assets like machines and stock.
In you do ever find yourself in the midst of such incidents, the greatest help you can do to yourself is to file insurance claims (life and general insurance) at the earliest.
However, before you file for claims, let’s understand certain key points you’ll need to keep in mind.
There are three main types of insurance claims that you may need to make — Life Insurance (death claim), House & Motor insurance & Medical (health) insurance.
Let’s understand death claim in this article
If you lose a relative or a family member in a natural calamity, the successors and legal heirs can claim the amount covered under the life insurance policy.
While different policy plans and companies may have their own specific documentation, the basic process and requirements remain more or less unchanged.
Here are some basic requirements
- Make sure you have the original policy document with you.
- Coordinate with the nearest branch of your insurance company. Please note the time frame within which the claim is to be lodged from the date of death. It is advisable to lodge the claim immediately.
- Name and other personal details of the policy holder.
- Death certificate (including date and cause of death), and
- Claimant’s relationship with the deceased.
However, in cases like the floods in Chennai, and other calamities like this one, it is quite possible the amid all the waterlogging and damage to property and life, policy papers and documents may be destroyed.
Most insurance companies set up a special help desk, helplines, and a team to assist affected persons in filing a claim.
Most companies will also relax the documents required and waiver any fees that may be applicable otherwise, to make the process smooth and hassle free.
While it is mandatory to produce a death certificate while filing for claims, getting a death certificate immediately in the case of a natural calamity may be a problem.
Most insurance companies will also take missing persons into consideration in such situations, because if you’re trying to claim life insurance for a missing person, a death certificate can’t be issued and insurance claims can’t be made on the basis of “Presumption of death”.
During the Uttarakhand devastation the government had asked the public sector insurer to pass claims on the basis of indeminity bonds submitted by the claimants for those who are missing, because in case there is no physical proof of death, the claims process may take several years.
As per the provisions of Section 108 of Indian Evidence Act, you can claim presumption of death only after the seven years starting from the date when the person was reported missing.
The nominee or legal heir is also needed to submit an FIR, police department reports, and a court order, along with any other necessary documents required for lodging the claim and its settlement.
These conditions and requirements may be relaxed during any natural calamities or disaster, and claims are passed on priority.
For those affected by Chennai floods, most prominent insurance companies have already announced measures like setting up a dedicated toll free numbers and email ids to help claimants lodge their claims seamlessly.
We will be exploring the process for claiming your General insurance policies (i.e. Health/Motor) during natural disaster in our next Article.
Rishabh Parakh is a Chartered Accountant and the Chief Gardener & Founder Director of Money Plant Consulting, a leading Tax & Investment Planning Advisory Service Provider.
He also runs a personal finance blog called “Mango Investor” aka AAM Niveshak. Readers are invited to send their feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.