CONSUMER RIGHTS
Web of solutions
Pushpa Girimaji

GOT a problem with an insurance company? If the insurer is not listening, there is somebody else who is—the regulator. And you can send in your complaint to the grievance cell in the regulator’s office.

Thanks to the communication revolution and the Internet, today, sitting in the comfort of one’s office or home, one can access the websites of regulators, get to know what they are doing to protect the rights of consumers and also bring to their notice, violations of consumers’ rights by service providers. The regulators have facilitated consumers’ access to simple mechanisms for redress of their grievances through the Internet.

Let me give, this week, an introduction to such websites of four regulators: the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and the Medical Council of India (MCI).

To begin with, the insurance sector. If you have a problem with your insurance policy, your first option of course is to see if it can be sorted out at the company’s level. If that fails, you have three options. The first is to write to the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, headquartered in Hyderabad. Now if you access its website — www.irdaindia.org.in- you will get lot of information about the insurance sector, including the regulations that the IRDA has formulated for the protection of policy holders. If you want to know how to file a complaint with the regulator, just go on to their site and click on "grievance cell". It opens up three options: one is the "Cell for redressal of grievances of policy holders", the other is "Contact information" and the third is "Complaint registration form".

The "Contact Information", for example, gives you the names of officers dealing with complaints, the telephone numbers and other relevant information. For complaints pertaining to non-life insurance, you can call: 040-55820964 extension 128 or 119 or send an e-mail to: nonlifecomplaints @irdaonline.org. Similarly, the telephone number for complaints against life insurers is 040-55820964 extension 131 and e-mail ID: lifecomplaints@irdaonline.org The IRDA’s postal address is: Parishrama Bhavanam, 5-9-58/B, Basheerbagh, Hyderabad.

IRDA basically analyses the complaint and forwards it to the insurance company for redress. You can also complain to the Insurance Ombudsman. Here again, on the IRDA website you can get the address and the telephone number of the Ombudsman, the simple and quick procedure involved in redress of complaints and also the complaint form. So you have a simple mechanism in the Ombudsman for redress of your complaint. Of course, if you are not satisfied with that, you also have the option of filing a complaint before the consumer court.

The Telecom Regulatory and Development Authority website does not lead you to an Ombudsman (hopefully the industry will provide such a mechanism soon) but it gives you the address and telephone numbers of nodal officers of various telecom companies, who are responsible for redressing consumer complaints. You can also send in your complaints to TRAI. The TRAI site gives you a lot of information, particularly on the various regulations drawn up by the regulator to protect consumer interest. And you, as a consumer, ought to know about these. Their website address is: www.trai.gov.in

Similarly, the Reserve Bank of India website gives you a wealth of information. Go on to the site and click on ‘for bank customers’. You get information on the Banking Ombudsman, how he functions, his address, and of course the complaint form. It also gives you information on what kind of complaints can be filed before the Ombudsman, the procedure involved, etc. Similarly, the RBI site gives you information such as the guidelines for banks on their lending operations, guidelines on credit card operations. This is again information that you must have, in order to assert your rights.

In the health sector, if you are having problems getting your medical records from the hospital or you have a complaint against a doctor or a hospital, you can write to the state medical council. Even the Medical Council of India has a website wherein you can file your complaints. The website address is: www.mciindia.org/ The site has a prominent icon: "send grievances". If you click on it, you get the address of the grievance cell, which is Deputy Secretary (grievance cell), Medical Council of India, Pocket 14, Sector 8, Dwarka Phase 1, New Delhi-110075 Fax: 011-25367025 You can also look at the various laws and regulations formulated by the MCI on this site.

So try out these sites.

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