By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Sri Lanka’s largest private insurance company Ceylinco General Insurance Ltd announced that all of its ‘Ceylinco VIP On The Spot’ comprehensive policyholders will receive a Rs.4 million emergency hospitalisation cover for no additional premium charge.
“This is another innovation of the ‘VIP On The Spot’ brand... you won’t believe a Rs.4 million health cover without a cent added to your premium,” Ceylinco General Insurance CEO Ajith Gunawardena said.
According to the policy extension, in the event of a road accident within Sri Lanka, a customer can claim up to Rs.1.3 million for hospitalisation and follow-up treatments overseas if recommended.
If the policyholder is travelling overseas, a Rs.1.3 million cover is available for any medical emergency, including visiting a general practitioner, and a Rs.2.6 million hospitalisation cover for any accident -- up to 15 days per trip.
“10-12 percent of our customers travel abroad,” Gunawardena said.Further, overseas travellers will be covered up to Rs.1.3 million in the case of death or total permanent disablement and Rs.650,000 in case of permanent partial disablements.All our new customers will have these benefits from today. For our existing customers, the benefits will occur when they renew their policy,” Gunawardena noted.
The benefits are for customers who have a comprehensive insurance policy on their cars, vans, jeeps, double cabs, buses and lorries. Motorcycle policyholders will be entitled to a Rs.300,000 hospitalisation cover for a road traffic accident locally and all the benefits of other vehicles when travelling overseas.
Customers who have only subscribed to a third party policy will benefit with a personal accident cover of Rs.200,000 for hospitalisation and Rs.100,000 for third party motorcycle policyholders.
“This cover is only for you. In the future we can think of extending the cover,” Gunawardena added.
Ceylinco Insurance PLC Managing Director Patrick Alwis said that only 17 percent of Ceylinco VIP On The Spot customers have a third party policy.
“We have a 35 percent market share on vehicle insurance with a 1.1 million customer base and the company handles around 580 accident claims daily, around 17 percent of which report injury or death,” Alwis added.
While vehicle insurance is mandated by the government, Sri Lankan insurance companies have struggled to penetrate into the population with health and life insurance covers. Ceylinco Insurance has a 41 percent market share in the current health insurance market. The move by Ceylinco could be seen as a way to whet the appetite of Sri Lankans to subscribe to more comprehensive health and life insurance covers in the future. However, Alwis said that it is just a practice of value addition to retain their high market share.“This is value addition. Motor insurance was a tariff product and the tariff was removed in 2003. We still charge the same rate we did in 2002, though prices of vehicles have gone up. Other companies are now charging 35-60 percent less than us to try to gain our market share. We never entered the price war. We’re continually value adding while maintaining our tariff to keep our customers,” he said.