I get a daily dose in the morning papers putting a question mark on the types of products, whether they be Pensions or ULIP’s etc. available in the market and how many a times customers are unaware of or misunderstood features.
So I ask myself, what is one to do?
The “accepted” logic is that insurance products are (a) complicated, (b) need advice from a licensed intermediary, and (c) should be bought only after due care. Absolutely right!
Everyone should seek information and advice, especially when they are making an investment or a purchase which will account for a large part of their savings. We all spend so much time in looking for that right air conditioner, its service back up, the cost, power ratings etc., but do we honestly spend the same amount of time researching for the savings or investment product that we need to buy?
How does one ensure that he/she gets full and unbiased information?
The information is out there, both on the net and otherwise, that can be used by people to take informed decisions about these critical investments, savings and protection needs. The issue is that it is dispersed and not easily collated to allow that comparison. For a customer to collect information and to be able to do a detailed comparison would require a great deal of time and effort.
Comparison engines that provide broad information and enable an unbiased comparison experience are the need of the day!
Using a comparison engine a customer can compare a wide range of products that meet their requirements, to decide which ones would be best suited for them. The service is not intended to replace the licensed intermediary who can provide advice. Rather, a comparison engine works for the customer in helping him/her make informed choices. Once aware, a customer can buy “e-enabled” products directly from the insurer, or have an intermediary contact him to help him through the process of buying, providing advice as needed.
India is likely to see an explosion of offerings in the next few years of comparison engines that will focus on a range of products – insurance, loans & deposits, travel, shopping, etc. Some of these will succeed and others will fail. To my mind, only those that provide a real value to customers are likely to succeed!
By real value, I mean looking at products and services from a customer’s point of view – addressing his/her needs. Not acting as an agent or intermediary – in which case, the comparison shopping experience will become just the same as buying through an agent, influenced by the bottom line.
I believe customers should demand information and make the effort to get the best deal. After all, by their nature, insurance and banking products have a large impact on the customer’s financial well being.
Being aware is the first step in being financially well off!