What is Assignment in an Insurance Policy?
Assignment means a complete transfer of the ownership of the policy to some other person. Usually assignment is done for the purpose of raising a loan from a bank or a financial institution.
Assignment is governed by Section 38 of the Insurance Act 1938 in India. Assignment can also be done in favour of a close relative when the policyholder wishes to give a gift to that relative. Such an assignment is done for “natural love and affection”. An example, a policyholder may assign his policy to his sister who is handicapped.
Who can make an assignment?
A policyholder who has policy on his own life can assign the policy to another person. However, a person to whom a policy has been assigned can reassign the policy to the policyholder or assign it to any other person. A nominee cannot make an assignment of the policy. Similarly, an assignee cannot make a nomination on the policy which is assigned to him.
What happens to the ownership of the policy upon Assignment?
When a policyholder assign a policy, he loses all control on the policy. It is no longer his property. It is now the assignee’s property whether the policyholder is alive or dead, the assignee alone will get the policy money from the insurance company.
If the assignee dies, then his (assignee’s) legal heirs will be entitled to the policy money.
Can assignment be changed or cancelled?
An assignment cannot be changed or cancelled. The assignee can of course, reassign the policy to the policyholder who assigned it to him. He can also assign the policy to any other person because it is now his property. We can think of a bank reassigning the policy to the policyholder when their loan is repaid.
What happens if the assignment dies?
If the assignee dies, the assignment does not get cancelled. The legal heirs of the assignee become entitled to the policy money. Assignment is a legal transfer of all the interests the policyholder has in the policy to the assignee.
What is the procedure to make an assignment?
Assignment can be made only after issue of the policy bond. The policyholder can either write out the wording on the policy bond (endorsement) or write it on a separate paper and get it stamped. (Stamp value is the same, as the stamp required for the policy — Twenty paise per one thousand sum assured). When assignment is made by an endorsement on the policy bond, there is no need for stamp because the policy is already stamped.
Is it necessary to Inform the insurer about assignment?
Yes, it is necessary to give information about assignment to the insurance company. The insurer will register the assignment in its records and from then on recognize the assignee as the owner of the policy. If someone has made more than one assignment, then the date of the notice will decide which assignment has priority. In the case of reassignment also, notice is necessary.
Can a policy be assigned to a minor person?
Assignment can be made in favour of a minor person. But it would be advisable to appoint a guardian to receive the policy money if it becomes due during the minority of the assignee.
Who pays premium when a policy is assigned?
When a policy is assigned normally, the assignee should pay the premium, because the policy is now his property. In practice, however, premium is paid by the assignor (policyholder) himself. When a bank gives a loan and takes the assignment of a policy a security, it will ask the assignor himself to pay the premium and keep it in force. In the case of an assignment as a gift, the assignor would like to pay the premium because he has gifted the policy.
Types of assignment
Assignment may take two forms:
- Conditional Assignment.
- Absolute Assignment.
1. Conditional Assignment
It would be useful where the policyholder desires the benefit of the policy to go to a near relative in the event of his earlier death. It is usually effected for consideration of natural love and affection. It generally provides for the right to revert the policyholder in the event of the assignee predeceasing the policyholder or the policyholder surviving to the date of maturity.
2. Absolute Assignment
This assignment is generally made for valuable consideration. It has the effect of passing the title in the policy absolutely to the assignee and the policyholder in no way retains any interest in the policy. The absolute assignee can deal with the policy in any manner he likes and may assign or transfer his interest to another person.
Can a policy be assigned during the minority of the life assured?
Can a general insurance policy(say fire/motor) under agreed bank clause should be assigned as the stock/motor is hypo/mortgaged to a bank