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Wednesday, Jul 03, 2002

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PSU general insurance cos — Shortlisting of third party administrators again likely

Sarbajeet K. Sen


THE panel of third party administrators (TPAs) prepared by the General Insurance Public Sector Association (GIPSA) for working on behalf of the public sector general insurance companies is under threat of being scrapped.

Under severe protests by those who were left out of the panel, GIPSA is considering the possibility of reopening the entire exercise and to look into the process afresh, which may ultimately lead to a fresh expanded list.

A total of 10 out of the 14 licensed TPAs were empanelled by GIPSA a couple of weeks ago after an elaborate tendering process. However, some of the more prominent TPA names such as Paramount Health Services Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai, and Heritage Health Services Pvt. Ltd, Kolkata, did not find a place in the list.

PSU insurance company officials involved in the process of shortlisting said TPAs who had found themselves left out have challenged the technical norms on which they have been disqualified such as having a particular computer configuration or a 24-hour hotline for customers.

Moreover, it is also being argued that once a TPA has been awarded a licence by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) the intermediary should automatically be allowed to work on behalf of any insurance company.

GIPSA officials confirmed that a meeting of the committee of senior executives from the four public sector companies constituted by the association to steer the entire process has already had a meeting to discuss the representation made by the non-empanelled TPAs.

"We might have to take a final decision on the panel to be forwarded to the four companies after looking into the entire issue,'' a top GIPSA official said. They did not rule out the possibility of reworking the entire panel.

Delay in the hiring of TPAs by the nationalised companies would result in denial of services of these health insurance intermediaries to the buyers of health products.

TPAs offer various health insurance related services such as processing of claims and getting them settled early without much fuss.

The TPA shortlist was finalised by GIPSA on June 5 after the opening of financial and technical bids. The selected TPAs were informally told that offer letters from GIPSA would be sent to them within a week to 10 days.

However, later developments have forced the GIPSA to hold back the formal offers. "I cannot say when we will be making the offers. All I can say at this point is that we will have to wait till everything is complete,'' GIPSA officials said.

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