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Opinion

Bad ICICI Lombard Experience

I want to mention on this blog about a bad ICICI Lombard health insurance experience. Our company has a group policy that covers health of all individuals, and we have always had a maternity cover also.

Before my child was born I had our HR executive called up the executive that sold us this insurance and confirmed that maternity was covered, and he said it was. Still not convinced I read through the policy which had it in the “endorsements” section. Assuming that yes, this endorsement is in our policy, we went ahead with the room selection etc. for the hospital.

When my son was born I submitted the form for a “cashless” claim, and the Third Party Adminstrator (TPA) rejected the claim, saying maternity was not covered. I then called up the ICICI Lombard executive who still maintained that it was. Angry with the TPA, I called and gave them a piece of my mind. To their credit they listened to me patiently and told me that the policy did not have the maternity endorsement.

I then paid up at the hospital and a few days later when I reached the office, checked the copy of the policy document. Guess what. The front page is a printed cover that mentions our office name, address and number of employees covered. There’s a section for “endorsements” which was empty. Then there was a pre-printed set of terms and conditions which specifically rules out maternity unless endorsement E2 is applicable. Endorsement E2 – the maternity endorsement – is also printed later.

Well, it turns out that “Endorsement E2 is applicable” must be printed on the front page, otherwise the endorsement is not valid. This is weird. If I have a policy document in which the endorsement is present, it is not enough. The fact that the endorsement is VALID should be printed somewhere else? How is anyone supposed to know this? Even in my LIC policy only those endorsements are listed which apply to me! Why can’t ICICI Lombard give us a group policy document that contains only those endorsements that apply to us, especially when we pay a ton more of premium?

Of course, their stand is all legal. And it is my stupidity that I did not get a court approval before I went to the hospital. But I think this was a way to trick us, because the document is worded in a way that makes me believe that the endorsement is applicable, but when you try to claim it is not. Further the maternity benefit was there in earlier years, and during renewal they removed it and we were dumb for trusting them. Still, that is a standard trick and now I am smarter, and I hope you are too.

What is inexcusable was ICICI Lombard’s procedure to handle the claim. I didn’t hear one apology from anyone; everyone we called insisted that the maternity claim was valid and that they would call us back but they never did. And the TPA was actually more helpful than ICICI’s executives. Even to the end, there was just a blame game going on at ICICI and then I gave up.

ICICI Lombard executives came to my office yesterday to renew our building insurance. I have cancelled every single insurance we hold with them and am getting quotes from others. It is unlikely that I will ever use their services again.

And today, doing a search for other such experiences, I have found a number of other people that have had problems. Not with ICICI lombard per se but with ICICI banks divisions in general – ICICI bank is a promoter of ICICI Lombard.

This page starts off with ICICI bank’s bad services, and other people come in and pour their views.

Arjun Prabhu then posts a blog entry and gets 594 comments, spewing vitriol over practically every aspect of ICICI Bank’s services, including credit cards, loans, insurance, and NRI offerings. Some berate the lack of service, others complain about executive apathy. When an ICICI bank executive presumably came in to stem the damage, and responded to one customer, that customer immediately replied and provided evidence to which there was no further response.

More posts follow: Whoisdeep, Arjarapu, Ankur Raheja, Neha Vishwanathan and Deepak K

Mouthshut’s ICICI bank review page seems to have a huge number of bad experiences, out of 474 reviews.

Most woes are not about bad experiences per se, but about ICICI Bank’s lack of empathy with their customers. Some of their PR executives have tried to enter the fray and solve issues by providing email ids in the comments.

But why am I posting this in my Investor blog? Because this kind of massive customer reaction is usually an indicator for the ICICI Bank stock as well. Any publicity is good publicity but the kind of venom spewed by customers is definitely not a good sign. I personally think they have some fantastic people at the top: I have immense respect for KV Kamath and his team. But perhaps, in the furious pace of growth, they have had issues with training their middle management, and eventually, their customer facing executives. In the long run, this kind of attitude is very difficult to reverse – and in my experience, it will only be addressed after the shit hits the fan.

From an investor perspective, this is a touch-me-not. Very few customers have staunchly supported the bank in any of these posts. Almost all reviews are negative. A retail business can’t survive for too long like this, can it? If you own ICICI bank shares, you might want to seriously evaluate its future.

And in the same vein, I encourage you to look at all your stocks, and talk to the customers of these companies. It might help you understand whether you own a gold mine or a minefield.

Note: You may see some ads regarding ICICI in this page. I haven’t blocked them from advertising here, and I hope they will respond to some of these issues too.

  • Ramji says:

    >I agree with your views on ICICI. It doesn’t matter if it’s insurance or banking, their service needs a complete overhaul.

    I am constrained to do business with them despite facing few problems. But they offer few services at least in the banking like online transfer of funds to other accounts in other banks which I use. While they may provide enhanced services using technology, they woefully lack real human service. It is just a matter of time that other legacy bank close the gap with ICICI on technology.

    The feeling that I always get with ICICI (and HDFC too) is that they do not see customers as someone who they could potentially do business with in the longer time (or throughout the lifetime of the customer). Costs are never transparent and in most cases you never know if you will pay for a transaction before you initiate it.

    Especially in the case of insurance, benefits and exception must be clearly laid out. I don’t know whether the concept of pre-approval exists with the insurers where you get a claim pre-approved based on an estimate.

    Bad publicity travel fast, exponentially faster than good publicity. I only hope when ICICI gets its act together there are customers for them!

  • Manish says:

    >Couple of months back, I had read in the newspaper that one of the RBI’s deputy governer at function(attended by ICICI top bosses also/) had mentioned about ICICI’s poor customer service.The Dep Guv had mentioned that ICICI should show the same alaricty in addressing customer problems as it shows in acquiring new customer

  • Krishnan says:

    >Have seen a large number of complaints at various sites mentioned by you.I don’t know if any nationally reputed lawyer has considered embarking upon a class action suit against ICICI Bank and its subsidiaries.I will definitely sign in as a client if such action is initiated.

  • krishnan says:

    >I wish to inform you that what ICICI Lombard does is no accident but carefully calculated ploy to cheat its customers.I purchased a home insurance plan from them against fire,burglary and earthquake.Subsequently,I asked them for third party cover for my car.They refused to quote.Hence I had to approach New India Assurance .At the time the house policy became due for renewal,I asked for a competetive bid from New India.They got back to me with a premium of less than half the amount quoted by ICICI Lombard.When,I asked ICICI about it,to my surprise they agreed to match the New India quote.This clearly shows that they just want to write a policy and have no intention to pay when the liability arises.You can ask your company not to renew the policy with ICICI lombard in your and other colleagues interest.

  • Alien says:

    >These pages are very distressing and though I have not had any personal experience as bad, but I have been alarmed at the drop in customer service levels over the last few years.. In fact nowadays I prefer their ATMs and internet banking than talking to the customer executives!!

    I am wondering if I should continue to hold my demat account (shares and MFs) with them or are there hidden rules that will hurt if I try to get out…

  • Anonymous says:

    >Hi Deepak,
    Personally i hate ICICI and i really wish they be flushed in the toilet. They treat you like shit when you go to their bank for some transaction, their fees are normally higher than the PSU banks for any service.

    But i do not agree with your statement that their shares will go down because of bad customer care.

    1) They are currently ignoring to keep the customer happy because they can afford to. They dont have a close competitor so people are struck with them.

    2) They provided some very convinient services like internet banking, demat via internet etc.

    3) It has grown to be 2nd largest bank in india in a short time. If they know how to do this, they will know when to stop being cocky and treat customers in a nice way.

    So i will say ICICI will still grow a lot from this point. Let me know what you think.

    Cheers
    Kiran

  • Deepak Shenoy says:

    >Kiran: I think your first statement actually says it: if you hate a companys service, you will usually see the stock collapse.

    Think about it: if they are doing well, why will they improve their service at all? They will not. Only when they do badly will they try – and you can’t improve service overnight, a huge training exercise has to be undertaken. That will take time. And during that time the earnings will slip consistently and the price will go even lower. That may be a good time to buy, not now.

    Eveyrone provides internet banking, demat etc. now. Soon every co-op bank will also give it.

    Competition is heating up. SBI, HDFC and a few PSU banks have as good a reach as ICICI and will soon start biting its heels. SBI is much much bigger and now is organising itself. Remember also that the PSU banks are consolidating, and they can form a challenging force.

    2nd largest bank -In history, many fast growers have been ruined because of lack of quality. Let us see how they respond – right now, I don’t think they will do well beacuse of the bad customer service.

    This is a similar situation to Air Deccan which I sold (at a good profit though) when I heard about the competition and the customer service issues. lukcily I sold at three points (162, 145 and 137) when I had bought at 130. Today the price is Rs. 105 or so, but I think in the long run it will do worse (unless it drastically improves service).

  • Bharani says:

    >touchwood… the service i have got till now has not been this bad… used to have a credit card with them and closed it within a year. i do have a trading account with them. Charges are high but not facing any problem.

    But have a lot of friends who have had bad service from them.

  • Anonymous says:

    >I feel ICICI is a mafia cum fraudster cum banker.

    The credit card people call you up make you fill all the forms saying they give card with limits 3 lks and finally the card comes and you see it is 20k limit. Then you call them and ask why.. they say the credit limit is determined by the internal department… Why the fuck dont you check with internal department before calling me ???

    On the TV they advertise No ATM charges in any Bank ATMs. you happily use ur debit card and ZAP some charges appear on the card.. bastards..

    PS: Sorry about the language Deepak but i just cant stand ICICI.

    Ananth

  • Sivaprakasam says:

    >I complained to RBI Ombudsperson 2 times – one for chq missing and other for credit card overcharge.
    Then,they resolved both the issues.
    All customers using ICICI for the same reason – internet banking,online fund xfer,oneline share trading.

    For Health Insurance, Bajaj Allianze is a good. I paid premiums for 3 yrs and claimed 2 yrs. I guess, maternity is not covered in most of the Health Policies.

    For any insurance, customer need to look into Terms&condisions,Exclusions before signing the doc.

  • Sandeep says:

    >Deepak, I will give you a different perspective on ICICI issue. I have about 100 plus ex-students who work for different ICICI group companies (home loan, car loan, Mutual Fund, Bank, General Insurance, Life Insurance etc.) Many of them meet me once in a while. Their common compaint: there is so much pressure from the top to increase the customers that “Sales” take up 99.9% of their time. They are working till 9 in the night to generate new sales and beyound that they dont have the time and energy to solve any “customer service” issue. Even if they try to help some harrased customer and call up their Regional or Head Office for help in service, the guys their are themselves so worked up that they say screw this customer and instead find five new fools.

    I have noticed one common thing in all the interviews of Chariman Kamath – he alwasy says that we won’t be number one on all the businesses that we operate in “car finance/home finance/general insurance/health insurance/bank/mutual fund etc” but in no interview he has spoken about “Quality of Service” which is very surprising considering they are in service sector
    So now you guys know the root cause: it all flows from the top.

    When my boss is ONLY intersted in knowing how many new customers (fools) I added, instead of how many customers complaints I solved , its any body’s guess what will I foucs on. I hope this solves the whole mystry about ICICI’s services. One of my ex-student who is now with ICICI Bank came to me this morning and was almost in tears when he told me that last year he added 25,000 salary account for the bank and the target given to him for next year is 90,000. Can you guess if I will open an account with him ????

  • Deepak Shenoy says:

    >Sandeep: You are so right. When customer service takes a back seat to customer acquisition, the company is headed towards doom, and perhaps extinction.

    If you see the CNN-IBN expose on Air Deccan recently, you’ll probably note another “do not buy” stock. Honestly, customer service is not big in India right now. So companies will ride the wave – like icici bank or reliance comm.

    But good service has a problem – no one glorifies great service. Means you rarely hear of it! Titan for example – very rare to hear of quality issues at Titan. The stock doens’t do much though.

  • Anonymous says:

    >We indians are so used to bad service that we dont really care that much. Because lets face it, a country under british raj for 200 years was burnt out or any cash, survival was the question. After independence our politicians made sure we dont get the money. So even today we havent seen money and prosperity for long. Thats the reason the first thing we ask about any product is ‘what is the price’.

    may be 25 years down the line (if the indian economy does well like its doing now) we would have seen enough prosperity that we care how we are treated and start punishing the companies for bad treatment. Till then anyone who gives something for less is king.

  • Anonymous says:

    >I read the below article from ‘The Hindu’ on 27-06-07. It seems that ICICI credit card recovery agents have killed a person for not paying the dues ….

    This is the ultimate ….

    http://www.hindu.com/2007/06/27/stories/2007062754860100.htm

    Credit cardholder’s death: bank asked to furnish details

    Banking Ombudsman, RBI take note of case

    HYDERABAD: The Banking Ombudsman and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have taken note of the alleged killing of a credit cardholder Y. Yadaiah in which the recovery agents of ICICI Bank’s credit cards division have been named as accused and arrested.

    When contacted, Banking Ombudsman Sebastian said that he had taken notice of the incident through newspapers and was distressed. “It is a law and order issue. Though Banking Ombudsman has nothing to do with it, I have asked the ICICI Bank to furnish details. The RBI may take a larger view after calling for the bank’s remarks, for this incident may have so many implications,” said Mr. Sebastian.

    RBI’s Regional Director R. Gandhi said that there had been standard instructions and guidelines issued from time to time by the apex bank to various banks on different issues, including recovery. In fact, the Supreme Court had also given directions to the banks on recovery.

    He said the law would take its course on the veracity and the guilty would have to face the law.
    Inspection

    To a question on coercive collection, he said that the RBI would periodically inspect the banks, call the officials concerned of banks for discussions and assess the performance with regard to various transactions.

  • Nagendra65 says:

    >Hi,

    I have bought a mediclaim policy from ICICI Lombard (Policy No. 4034/FPS/03499714/00/000) IN APRIL 08. I submitted 4 installments. They assured me that Rs 452.00 would be deducted every month from my credit card but they went against there assurance & get RS 453.49 deducted every month.

    I call there customer care executives & send too many mail regarding this. But I did not get any satisfactory answere from them. Like this my first problem was wrong deduction. I did not care for 2 Rs. but it is the matter of a Company's wrong assurance.

    They cheating with customer and after having policy recived they even did not care about the customer they compelety forget & try to ignore him. On the other hand they publicly shout & try to convey the message in market that they care the customer better than anyone.

    When I call there customer executive they talked with me in a very rude & improper manner & said that they could not return my money as per their Company's policy but could not tell the policy to me & ask me to withdraw my policy & once again assured me that they will return me my complete money without any kind of deduction & I diid so.

    I get my policy withdrawn but once again I get cheated & I got my money deducted by the company. When I asked how my money get deducted whereelse you have said I will get my complete money back, Once again they said ————As per the company policy——————– like this without telling me any policy of their company they get my policy crushed & cheated me at every point.

    Now recently I received a mail "
    (
    —– Original Message —–
    From: CustomerSupport
    To: Nagendra
    Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 11:40 AM
    Subject: RE:'ICICILom=003-018-544' ICICI Lombard Website – Email

    Dear Customer,
    "We request you to provide us your contact number with the STD code to serve you better."
    As per our discussion, we request you to provide us the new policy number in order to reverse all the charges related to your cancelled policy.

    Warm Regards,
    Praful Karkera
    Query Resolution Team
    )
    When we received this mail and make a call to customer care they told me You purchase a new policy and we can settle all the thing.
    How can I belive of this type of company I never want to purchase any policy from them.
    Now I want to tell the public through you that teh assurance that these Companies are making to you are all empty bans.
    They are lier, They are cheater and they are———————————————.
    Now would you please help me in this matter.

    Thanks & Regard's
    Nagendra Kumar
    Email – nagendra65@gmail.com
    nagendra65@inbox.com
    Mobile- 9873913601

  • RAHUL KASHYAP says:

    >I have made payment for two year premium vide demand draft in the name of 'ICICI LOMBARD GIC LTD.,' drawn from ICICI BANK , Safdurjung Branch , New Delhi for family floater policy issued by Call centre on calling 1800 209 8888 . I have not received my policy till date despite handing over of draft to ICICI lombard collection agent sent by call centre of ICICI LOMBARD . More than one and half months have passed and despite being sent the scanned copy of demand draft and the I card as well well letter from their collection agent/agency ICICI lombard is surching for other excuses. I had faxed letter to Mr Kamath as well as Mr Bagchi CEO of the ICICI group & ICICI LOmbard.I had complained to IRDA also but nothing is working . What to do next?
    Shall I terminate my Customer relationship to their other products/Serviecs and inform/request the same to my friends & colleagues to do.

  • Anonymous says:

    >Dear All

    I agree with htis complaint . Basically ICICI Lombard is a cheater . They just want to sell their policies . I also have tahen a insurance policy against my home loan which clearly says that I will get three EMI waivers in case I loose my Job . And when I lost my job these cheatrers are not ready to pay instead thay are giving useless excuses . I request to everyone whoever reads this , not to go for ICICI Lombard .

    Name : Sudhanshu Bhatt

    Clain reference No. 271108830

    In case you want to talk to me pls call on 09741352730 .

  • santhi says:

    >ICICI Lombard health insurance people are harrassing customers to the extent possoible.They are telling one or other reason for not settling the claims.Taking ICICI Lombard health insurance policies is equivalent to having no health insurance policy itself. because they will just collect premium and they will not pay for the claims.Their replies are baseless. Telling one reason one time and if we tell answers to that reason , they will tell some other reason. besides paying premium , we have to pay additional amount , time and energy reg. claims and further queries. But everything in vain. Out of our experience I suggest better not to go for any business with ICICI group . we feel very bad for taking ICICI Lomabard health insurance policies.

  • Amit says:

    >i am facing increased premium issue every year. For rened customer, premium is charged higher than new customer. Does anybody have premium charts for 2006-2010 for family floater product for 2L sum insured and age slab 50-55 and 55-60

  • Anonymous says:

    >ICICI Lombard is pathetic. One must go for nationalised insurance companies rather than taking from private.. They are just making money and usless people. When i took the policy, they told me u can cancel within 30 days and now they have deducted the amt and saying u can cancel in 15 days time only and that too you will have to pay charges.what a paththetic service.

  • Bhupesh says:

    >>>"I have immense respect for KV Kamath and his team."

    They may be good (business) manager, but to me they have not earned any respect at least from me. As being top most private bank, their customer acquisition practices has forced others to follow same. They wake up only when this bad of theirs start hitting stock (also fat stock options).

    "Very rare to hear of quality issues at Titan. The stock doens't do much though."

    I think they are doing good both in growth and stock market.

  • Bhupesh says:

    >Just to record I closed my all accounts (Saving, trading, FDs)with ICICI except one pension plan. The day shifting pension plan is allowed in India I will do that also.

  • csharper says:

    >You wanted insurance company pay for maternity? How come the maternity was an accidental thing? 🙂

  • Deepak Shenoy says:

    >CSharper: It was a health policy, not an accident one – thought that was fairly clear.

  • icici says:

    I am not saying that it is your mistake but if you would have checked the dates when you had a cover note or insurance policy at that time it would be an easy task but now….

  • That one the executive told me that I will be getting the full amount like that. For that they are telling me that person dont know about the cancellation of policy.
    ————————————–
    MAGEE

  • Hi deepak,
    Some companies go for nationalised insurance companies rather than taking from private.. They are just making money and usless people. so think people believe insurance companies, companies also believe them.
    __________
    Suresh.

  • I got totally fed up with them too, and switched to Bajaj Allianz.
    They just shamelessly cheat the customers by putting all unnecessary add-ons and increasing the premium, which by the way is already high compared to other companies!
    ……………………..
    Joy

  • sameer desai says:

    Recently I had bad experience, in the 1st year only ICICI Lombard showed the cheating business business operandi, winch is in one way good. Communication error on name has costed me 25% fine, as first I was asked to cancel the policy and then I have to buy new fresh policy, of course after bearing 25% loss I would not go for ICICI Lombard. I do not recommend ICICI Lombard any time. If you want I can provide policy number and can provide online log in details to prove that ICICI Lombard cheated me.

  • Ritesh says:

    Dear Deepak Shenoy,
    Quite a power this internet wields. A blog that you wrote in 2007 has been one of the contributors in making me reverse my decision to go with ICICI Lombard for its health plan. My worry is that if they can screw around with you as a part of a group insurance policy, imagine my plight as an individual.
    ICICI Lombard – thanks but no thanks!