A healthy spread

Stand-alone health insurers are making a mark by introducing novel policies that cover everything from joint families to a visit to the dentist.

twitter-logoManu Kaushik | Print Edition: December 2010

In October 2007, Delhi-based businessman Chander Amla bought a family floater health insurance policy from Royal Sundaram General Insurance, which extended a combined cover of Rs 3 lakh for him, his wife and daughter.

Two years later, he felt that the amount was not sufficient to cover the rising medical costs and asked the insurance company to raise the sum insured. He was particularly worried about the Rs 1,500 per day room rent cover during hospitalisation.

"The average daily room rent in a reputed hospital is much higher than this amount. Also, the policy covered only those illnesses that require hospitalisation for more than 24 hours. There are so many day-care procedures that do not require hospitalisation for more than a day," says 60-year-old Amla.

"It is the first time that individual cover and family floater have been combined in the same policy."
CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance

WHAT'S NEW: Family First
It's the only product with a comprehensive coverage for joint or extended families.
It provides individual cover, plus Rs 3-15 lakh for the entire family.
  • Unlike in the existing family floater policies, an individual can cover up to 13 members of his extended family, including in-laws, grandparents and grandchildren.
  • Includes maternity benefits and newborn baby care.
  • No involvement of third-party administrators as company executives manage claims personally.
After several of his calls to the company went unheeded, an insurance broker advised him to buy Max Bupa's heartbeat policy. It matched his needs better with an individual cover of Rs 3 lakh for him and his wife.

"In this plan, there is no cap on room rent. Moreover, the policy covers medical expenses that do not require hospitalisation for more than 24 hours," he says.

Indeed, new stand-alone private health insurance companies, such as Max Bupa, Apollo Munich Health Insurance and Star Health and Allied Insurance, are making their presence felt by unveiling radically different products for individuals and families alike and, in the process, offering comprehensive covers across age groups.

"Today, we have products with a lifelong policy renewal feature, covering you from cradle to grave," says Antony Jacob, chief executive officer, Apollo Munich, a joint venture between the Apollo Hospitals Group and Germany-based Munich Re.

The penetration of health insurance in India is abysmal, with only about 1% of the population being covered under any form of health insurance, according to the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER). Contrast this with the United States, where 85% of the population is covered, or China at 77% of citizens covered.

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