National Insurance Company of India – broken and useless

They used to be the common Indian’s vehicle insurance solution in the not too distant past. We relied on them. Now NatInCo is just another government elephant which killed itself most likely through greed and corruption.

At one time all six of my family vehicles were covered by NatInCo. Then our private sector bloomed and things have gone downhill since. I know friends and relatives who are willing to pay more than double premium that private companies charge than deal with this government owned monster. How did things go this bad?

New Delhi shopping mall

Till last year, I was able to pay most of my premiums for NatInCo online. It’s convenient to log in from your home and pay the money than driving kilometers to stand in endless queues to be finally told that the “server is down”. Or what ever else the clerk deems fit. Really! One of the largest government agencies cannot afford a few working servers out of its billions worth of turnover. The clerk’s job is permanent, so is everyone else’s working there. They get paid whether their “servers” work or not.

So imagine my disappointment when it came time to renew a premium a month back and the NIC website wasn’t working. For more than a week I tried every day to make the payment but I kept getting one error after another. Yet, every other site in the world was working perfectly. I tried the online chat with their help desk but was told the same thing. Server down. And when after almost a week, I finally logged in, it refused my renewal citing that I would have to physically go to their office and make the payment.

Is this the technological progress India is supposed to be a leader of? Our global dominance of information technology? It’s absurd. How can running a staff of hundreds with office and its infrastructure be easier for the government than an online payment system with a few servers replacing all that redundancy and expense?

bat killed by hail

There must be a catch and I think this is it. All insurance agents get commission for the premiums they collect. But guess who gets the commission when payments are done online? No one. The government keeps that money. So why would so many hungry agents allow online payments? It’s not in their interests. Of course they get salaries but apparently that’s not enough. And being co-workers of the server engineers and technicians responsible for online payments – I guess you can imagine the rest.

What I know is that when I stand in line and make payment at their office, at any of their offices, someone or the other always gets the commission. Their names are written on the cover note. I don’t know whether the strongest forces his or her name on the sale or whether they take turns or do it randomly – someone does get it. And it adds up.

There would be no reason for agents to promote online payments and lose their collective commissions. It doesn’t matter to them that consumers have to run around in heat or rain, stand in queues, tolerate their dictates, homage them with subservience so they can feel good about themselves.

The thing is that no one is listening. I’ve complained, I’ve emailed. No one has replied to date. None of the customer service numbers work or are attended by humans. No matter how many times you call, if you manage to get through, all you get are IVRS messages that eventually hang up on you after citing random incorrect selection warning.

Or you can go to the private companies and pay more than double the premiums. I think I’m smarter now and will take the private route.

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