The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India has discovered a new selling point: terrorism.
With random blasts bringing death to the doorstep for ordinary citizens, the agent has pulled a little-known clause specifying "terrorist activities" out of the insurance manual to offer double money benefit to victims' families.
And even young professionals are buying policies impressed by the utterly new-age clause, say LIC agents and officials.
Terror clause is our selling point
"Earlier, we used to sell life insurance policies as profitable tax-saving instruments or safe investment options.
The accident benefit clause that covers terrorism used to get a passing reference," said Naresh Tiwari, an LIC agent based on north Delhi's Asaf Ali Road. "Today, with violence on the rise, the clause has become our selling point." Tiwari has used the terror and violence spiel to sell 40-45 policies in the last three months to people in the 25-35 age bracket.
Another agent from Malviya Nagar in south Delhi, requesting anonymity since he did not want to upset anybody in the government insurance giant, said 50 professionals and businessmen in the 30-38 age group had bought policies from him in the last three months asking about cover in road rage and terrorism cases.
Agents say the terrorism clause was there since at least 2005. After the Mumbai train blasts of 2006, they started mentioning it proactively. And with the Delhi blasts, it has become a selling point and more people have started buying these policies.
"Till even five years ago, accidental death wasn't a very important concern with the young workforce. Today, youth people are concerned about their family security. Insurance advisors are cashing in on this concern," said Geeta Sarin, a professor of insurance at Institute of Management and Technology, Ghaziabad.
While LIC could not put a figure on the exact number of terror cover policies, senior officials agree it is on the rise.
"LIC has always been proactive about reaching out to victims of disasters like tsunami, earthquake and accidents. We have just reinterpreted the rules according to times and included terrorism in that section," said T Ramakrisnan, senior divisional manager, Delhi.
For Chandni Varma, in her early thirties and a radio jockey with Rainbow, an LIC policy was an archaic investment option till a friend was severely injured in the Connaught Place blast. Today, the friend is recuperating, having taken a long break from work, and Varma is getting herself an insurance that covers death and disability caused by these attacks.
"Terrorism has made life unpredictable. Even a casual shopping trip to the neighbourhood market can end fatally. A policy that covers death because of terrorism assures me that my spouse will receive a handsome amount if I am either suddenly killed or rendered incapable of earning," said Varma, who has applied for LIC's Jeevan Mitra Triple Cover policy that offers her double accident benefit.
This policy will offer Varma's nominee four times the amount she is insured for if she dies in a terror attack.
Jhandewalan trader Anurag Gupta, 33, agrees. He has decided to buy a policy that offers him double accident benefit. "I don't mind paying Rs 1,000 more per lakh of premium to insure my life against death caused by terrorism," said Gupta, who has chosen Jeevan Anand.
"In simple terms, double benefit means that the nominee gets double the sum insured in case of an accidental death. It helps a lot," says Ajay K Khanna, assistant secretary (Audit), LIC, New Delhi.
Under the double benefit clause, the LIC had paid Rs 19.98 lakh to the family of Delhi police inspector MC Sharma, who was killed in an encounter with terrorists, though his life was insured for half the amount.