The Covid-19 pandemic has already claimed lakhs of human lives in India – the recorded number is close to 4 lakh and is still increasing by thousands every day. Apart from losing their livelihood, many families have lost their earning members as well.
Despite the fact that fatalities among children are low, the pandemic has played havoc in the lives of many little ones, with thousands of children losing one or both parents.
According to an affidavit filed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in the Supreme Court on June 1, 2021, as many as 9,346 children have either lost at least one parent or been abandoned between March 2020 and May 2021.
According to the report, the recorded figures of children, who have got orphaned after losing both the parents, are 1,742, while some fear that the actual number may be much higher.
As insurance companies provide health cover to a dependent child only if at least one of the parents applies for the cover along with the child, the insurance cover for a child will continue after losing one of the parents.
Children are allowed to continue under the family cover till they are financially dependent on the parents or they reach the age of 21 years.
However, the big question is what will happen to the health insurance cover of the children who have lost both their parents?
The continuation of health cover is important for orphaned children as the legal guardians or relatives may take care of them, but may not be in position to bear the burden of hospitalisation cost.
When asked about the fate of health insurance cover of orphaned children in absence of both the parents, T A Ramalingam, Chief Technical Officer, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance said, “The policy will continue for the children with the legal guardian as proposer.”
As dependent children include unmarried children, step children or legally adopted children, orphans may not lose their health insurance cover after losing both of their parents, provided their legal guardians continue to pay the premium.
However, to make things easy, clear cut guidelines regarding eligibility and scope of legal guardians are necessary from Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to ensure continuation of health insurance cover of already insured children even after losing both the parents.
This is because, out of affection, grand parents or other relatives of orphaned children may take care of the kids without legally adopting them, resulting in disqualification at the time of renewal of the health insurance policies of such children.