New Delhi:

Reliance General Insurance Saturday said it has won the contract to provide health insurance cover to Jammu and Kashmir government staff after a rigorous and transparent competitive tender process. 


Reliance General's  statement came after Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that the general insurance company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anil Ambani's Reliance Capital , got the health insurance mandate from the J&K government due to his proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 


The governor's administration in Jammu and Kashmir rolled out a group mediclaim health insurance scheme for employees, pensioners and accredited journalists, on 20 September..


The insurance scheme is expected to provide health insurance coverage of up to Rs 6 lakh per employee or pensioner per annum along with their five dependent family members on floater basis.While the scheme was mandatory for employees of PSUs, autonomous bodies and universities, it will be optional for pensioners and other categories of employees and accredited journalists.


The Group Mediclaim Insurance contract to cover around 400,000 government employees and pensioners was allotted by Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration to Reliance General Insurance Company (RGIC) at a time when its promoter Anil Ambani was embroiled in the Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal controversy.


This scheme has caused suspicion, as a private company was chosen to be mandatory for certain government employees.


"We have won the employee health insurance policy as part of the 'J&K Chief Minister's Group Mediclaim Policy' after a rigorous transparent competitive tender process involving technical and financial evaluation of multiple bidders, carried out strictly in compliance with the laid down guidelines of the state government," the company said in a statement late evening Saturday. 


Citing a media report, the Congress president, in a tweet, had Saturday said, "When your BFF (best friend forever) is the PM, you can get the 1,30,000 Cr. Rafale deal, even without relevant experience. But wait. There's more! Apparently, 400,000 JK Govt staff will also be arm-twisted into buying health insurance ONY from your company!". 


The general insurance company claimed that its proposal was the most competitive, almost 35 per cent lower than the other closest proposal. 

It said the other public and private sector insurance companies that participated in the bidding process included National Insurance, United India Insurance, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance and ICICI Lombard among others. 


The contract, that had been left under wraps for months by former Governor NN Vohra, was approved on 31 August 2018 in the first State Administrative Council (SAC) meeting chaired by Governor Malik.


Even as all the major government tenders are floated online on behalf of the Governor or President of India, the Group Mediclaim Insurance was advertised by a private broker, M/S Trinity Reinsurance Brokers Ltd, poorly in a couple of newspapers. IRDA-recognised Trinity was engaged by the J&K government to “design and implement” the Chief Minister’s Group Mediclaim Insurance Policy. All the related documents are available on the Finance Department’s website.


However a section of media report have said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Trinity and J&K government is conspicuously missing.


Navin K Choudhary,principal secretary, finance, J&K, clarified “being projected as if we have given this contract to Reliance on a platter without floating tenders. I was worried that the company shouldn’t back out. Our previous vendor ICICI Lombard had reportedly suffered losses over premium of around Rs 6,200. This time they had quoted as high as Rs 17,692,” Choudhary told The Quint.


According to Choudhary, three private insurance companies and four PSUs of the Government of India participated in the competition. Two of the PSUs got disqualified in the technical evaluation.


The five bidders were Reliance General Insurance Company: Rs 8,776.84 (L-1), National Insurance Company: Rs 11,918.00 (L-2), ICICI Lombard: Rs 17,691.74 (L-3), Bajaj Allianz: Rs 23,476.10 (L-4), United India Assurance: Rs 27,225.00 (L-5).


All government contracts are awarded to L1, which is the cheapest bidding among the competitive parties..   


“Most of the perceptions and judgments in such matters, as also resultant criticism, happen to be wrong. We have put out an exhaustive policy document. It contains a host of conditions and parameters. The number and quality of the empaneled hospitals, number of the family members to be benefitted, whether it is Rs 5 lakh or Rs 6 lakh a year, quality of the services at call centre and web portal, promptness in settling claims and much more is assessed before selecting a vendor. We assess the rates in realm of totality to the best satisfaction of our analysts. We are fully convinced that we have struck the best deal,”  Choudhary asserted.


In response to a question over the non-existence of the tender notice on e-tender portals of the J&K government and the poor publicity given to it, Choudhary said: “These big insurance companies are not based in small towns of our state. We called all the majors for a pre-bid meeting and they all had full knowledge of our NIT. They offered different suggestions which we considered on merit. It’s a fully transparent and fool-proof exercise,” he asserted.


The Principal Secretary of Finance asserted that as many 4,700 government and private hospitals had been empanelled for providing cashless treatment to the insured. The operator on the service provider’s call centre put the number at “around 3,500”, while adding that the process was still in progress. A list of the hospitals provided to accredited journalists mentions just 123 hospitals, mostly the government hospitals at district and sub-district level in the state. The Finance Department’s website carries a list of only 20 private hospitals—just two in Srinagar.