I took my first Life Insurance policy when I got my first salary in 1977. I guess some of you were not born by that time. My neighbourhood LIC agent, Vishwas got it done for me.
That was the beginning of a long, strong relationship of mutual respect. Since then, Vishwas has been taking care of all my insurances – all my subsequent Life Insurance policies, the insurance of the first Lambretta scooter I bought, my first Ambassador through to my current car, my home insurance, my health insurance.. the works. Vishwas has since become an integral part of my very family, present and participating in all my family functions and so on. So much so that, my son actually calls and considers him his ‘Vishwas Uncle’. When my son got a scholarship from MIT and went to US for studies, even his travel insurance was handled for me by Vishwas.
Much water has flown under the bridge since. My son is now married and settled in Florida. I had retired voluntarily and am living pretty comfortably with my wife. I have done proper financial planning for retired life, thanks again to help and guidance from Vishwas.
And then, this happened in January this year. I will probably never forget even the date – 10th of January. My son had taken his annual vacation and with family was boarding a transatlantic flight. From the airport he had called. It was late evening in India. My wife and I spoke to him, our daughter-in-law and the grand daughter. Half an hour after the call, my wife suddenly started complaining of breathlessness and discomfort. I took her to our family doctor. All it took him was two minutes of testing her to advise me that she needs to be admitted and may require an emergency surgery. I rushed her to the hospital. She was rushed to the ICU. About 15 minutes later, the hospital informed me that she is stabilized, but would need the surgery immediately. And they politely demanded I make a deposit of Rs. 1 Lakh. Obviously I did not have that kind of liquid cash in my bank account.
I did, of course, have a Health insurance, covering both of us, also taken through Vishwas. I tried contacting my TPA. I was told their cashless approval can happen only by Monday morning. My son was on board the flight – not reachable for hours to come. I tried reaching Vishwas. He was not reachable even after several attempts. That is when I realized that it was during that period of the year when he goes on his annual pilgrimage, and does not carry his mobile. My desperation was growing into despair. Finally, I spoke to my family doctor, who spoke to doctors known to him, who in turn spoke to doctors in that hospital. And by the time the hospital agreed to prepare my wife for surgery, it was Sunday morning.
Well, the surgery was a success, and my wife has recovered well. But, even today when I think of that traumatic Saturday night, I shudder.
By about March end, Vishwas came home to collect the installments on my Life insurance policies. I told him about my experience. He was very thoughtful when he left my house that day.
The next I met him was in June. He had dropped in for some coffee, and to remind me about my Health Insurance renewal due in July. Only this time, he did not ask for the cheque!!
‘What happened to Bhabhiji was a learning for me’ he said. ‘I recommend you Renew your Health insurance policy through a good broker.’
‘What? You do not want to handle this renewal??’ I was puzzled.
‘Like I told you, Bhabhiji’s hospitalization made me realize one thing. Health insurance is not like other insurances. If your car meets with an accident, and, because I am not available you have to contact the insurance company directly and their sending a surveyor takes a day or two more, heavens will not fall. You will be upset, yes, but, it will not be a life and death situation; with health insurance, it can be a life and death situation.
The day Bhabhiji got admitted unfortunately I was not available, but even if I was available, except probably helping you with whatever liquid cash I have, I could not have done anything better. And, I cannot go around lending my cash to everyone!
In your case, your doctor was able to help you, and so, at least by the next day the surgery was performed. This will not be the case with everybody, and the patient who meets with an emergency on a Saturday night may have to wait till Monday!!
You are not just a client, but also a good friend; so, even after that incident, you continue to patronize me. I cannot expect this to happen with all my clients.
So, if I remain greedy for the commission I get on the health insurance, incidences like this can result in my losing my client – and the client’s total portfolio!!
So, from that day on, I have been advising all my clients to get their health insurance renewed through a broker. Only, I advise them to be choosy about the broker and to go to that broker who is dedicated to health insurance instead of doing all and sundry business, that broker who has contacts not alone with insurance companies and TPAs but also with hospitals and nursing homes.’
If what Vishwas said so far surprised me, what he said next made me spill my coffee.
He said with a smile on his face ‘You won’t believe this but, when my Health Insurance came up for renewal in April, I got it renewed through such a broker.’
That day when I was listening to him, I was surprised. But since then, every time I think of this, I realize it made good business sense for him to do what he is doing. Typical of Vishwas.. full of business sense!!