Free look period in insurance is the duration or time period given to you for deciding if you want to keep the policy or whether you want to cancel/return it. IRDA has brought about this rule for the convenience of users. The rule applies to all products related to insurance.
What is the time period allowed?
The time period allowed, which is also known as the free look up period, is 15 days from the day of receiving the policy documents.
When should you make use of it?
The free look period of 15 days given to you is for examining the policy documents and checking for any discrepancies in it. You need to check the premium payment term, premium amount, sum assured and other conditions in the policy. These should be the same as the ones you have discussed with the insurer before opting for the policy.
This feature is especially useful when you are mis-sold a policy by an agent. While signing for the policy, the agent might have promised you something and the actual documents could be something different. In such a case, you can first talk to the insurer and if it doesn’t solve the purpose you can opt for cancellation. Of course, you can always reach out to insurance ombudsman even if the free look period is over if you are a victim of mis-selling.
Will the entire amount paid be refunded?
The entire premium paid will be refunded subject to certain deductions. These are the costs that the insurer had to incur on account of issuing this policy to you. Some of such charges incurred by company would be stamp duty, medical tests, administration charges, mortality charges till date, etc. In case of market linked policies such as ULIP, if there is a change in the fund value, you would receive the amount based on the NAV of fund.
What is the process to apply for cancellation?
The process of application for the cancellation of policy might differ from insurer to insurer. You would first have to contact the insurer directly for the detailed process. General documents required would be original policy documents, identity/address proofs, filling of cancellation form and so on. It is better to avoid approaching your agent for this. He might not want to lose out on commission received from selling that policy to you.
You would have three options to reach out for in case of cancellation of policy. You can follow them in order till issue gets resolved:
1) Insurance company
2) IRDA Grievance Redressal or IGMS
3) Insurance ombudsman
What about health insurance policies?
Health insurance policies will also have the free look up period of 15 days. However, it is only applicable to policies with tenure of greater than 1 year. Health insurance portability is another feature introduced by IRDA which enables users to port policies and retain the benefits. You can use this feature if you have missed out on the free look period option.
Warning for you
Insurance is purely meant for protection. In the entire process of cancellation of policy, you might end up with having zero insurance. This is more dangerous than having a mis-sold policy with some insurance on your name. We strongly advise you to avoid policies which mix insurance and investment. Opt for pure online term insurance.
The free look up period provided by IRDA is only for your convenience. It does not imply that you purchase a policy first and then examine the documents in order to decide whether to keep it or cancel it. You need to perform due research on the policy before hand.