Coronavirus: Should you depend on your traditional health insurance?
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Coronavirus: Should you depend on your traditional health insurance?

To address the concerns of the policyholders and to bring clarity on the coverage of corona virus, the insurance regulator IRDA has come up with guidelines for the insurance companies

  • New Delhi,  March 6, 2020  
  • |  
  • UPDATED   21:53 IST
Coronavirus: Should you depend on your traditional health insurance?
Many insurance companies have also clarified to their policyholders about the coverage of the disease either by personal communication or through media

India no longer remains immune to coronavirus that has caused serious concerns among most Indians. While the best course of action is to take precautions and preventive measures, if indeed you get infected, the treatment may need weeks of hospitalisations. The cost becomes a critical issue in case of a prolonged hospitalisation. This is the reason why many people buy health insurance policies so that funding does not come in the way of accessing quality treatment. However, as this virus has been discovered very recently, many people with active health insurance policies are worried if their health insurance will cover the treatment of this disease.

To address the concerns of the policyholders and to bring clarity on the coverage of corona virus, the insurance regulator IRDA has come up with guidelines for the insurance companies. The regulator stated, "Where hospitalisation is covered in a product, insurers shall ensure that the cases related to corona virus disease (COVID 19) shall be expediously handled."

IRDA has issued strict instructions to health insurance companies against rejecting any claims related to coronavirus. "All the claims reported under COVID 19 shall be thoroughly reviewed by the claims review committee before repudiating the claims," the regulator said in the guideline.

Many insurance companies have also clarified to their policyholders about the coverage of the disease either by personal communication or through media. "Any policyholder hospitalised for coronavirus condition will be insured under our hospitalisation policies. As a customer centric company, we will expedite claims for the treatment of Coronavirus patients and provide them all necessary support. The claim process will be similar to other disease conditions. The travel history or family history of the person will not have any impact on the policy and the claim process. In case the policy has an in-built OPD benefit, expenses towards treatment taken at home can be reimbursed as per policy terms. We also believe that the Government of India and Health departments are taking necessary steps to manage the situation in the country," says Ashish Mehrotra, MD & CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance.

Aditya Birla Health Insurance has also assured that COVID 19 is already covered. "In the past few years, the world has faced outbreaks of dreaded viruses such as Ebola, Zika, Nipah, and now Corona. A health insurance policy covers all infections, and Corona is one such infection. Coverage will be available in all our products that offer hospitalization covers. Hence, all covers such as in-patient treatment, pre-hospitalization, post-hospitalization, OPD and ambulance cover that your health policy offers will be available to you, to fight against this pandemic," says Mayank Bathwal, CEO, Aditya Birla Health Insurance.

Though the likelihood of this disease not being covered under your health insurance policy appears remote, you should not take chances and read the policy wording carefully to have a clear understanding of the coverage. If there is any confusion you should immediately get in touch with your insurer to confirm the coverage.

Many insurance companies are even looking at bringing specific product that can help people in buying protection against this outbreak. It may come at much lesser cost than comprehensive plans. "Our standard health policy is capable to take care of corona virus coverage. As of now we are evaluating if there is any requirement for a corona specific cover.  Going forward, if the need arises, we will look at bringing out a specific product to address  for such diseases as appropriate .On the claims front, we comprehend that Covid -19 is a disease of epidemic proportions and will have deeper impact on people's lives, we are trying to provide all the help. SBI General is Not rejecting any claim without minimum compliance of regulatory requirements as prescribed," says Pankaj Verma , Head - Market Underwriting Operation, SBI General Insurance.

Many of the coronavirus cases have originated at distant places and have been spread by travellers. So reducing public travel is one of the most prominent advisories to protect against COVID 19. If you are travelling abroad and buying a travel insurance policy or a health insurance policy, it may be handy to claim against this viral disease. However, you need to check the exceptions. "As an immediate impact, we expect reduced travel but higher penetration of insurance programs both for travel and general needs. One should carefully look at the policy wordings before buying with regards to waiting periods, exclusions and coverage limitations.  Existing insurance programs will cover hospitalisation expenses but may cover OPD and quarantine expenses depending on the exact policy wording. Also look carefully for any travel restrictions built into the insurance plan," said Anik Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, Symbo India Insurance Broking Limited.

If you have already done a travel with travel insurance and do not have a health cover, you need to check your travel insurance policy wording. There are chances that it may offer coverage against this viral disease immediately after the period of your travel. Beside the coverage of the disease, you will also have to look at the period of the coverage as many time travel insurance comes for a very short period.