Should you buy standard Covid-19 policy in addition to a health insurance plan?

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December 9, 2020 5:06 PM

Covid treatment alone can lead to a substantial bill, which could eat up the entire sum insured of the policyholder for the year.

Covid treatment, standard Covid-19 policy, health insurance plan, hospitalisation, Corona Kavach policyTo avoid getting your lifetime or retirement savings completely diluted due to a Covid hospitalization, it critical that the first and foremost financial security and investment that you should do is to buy health insurance or increase your insurance coverage right away.

Most financial planners consider health insurance policy as a must-have risk cover. Still, not many people have a health cover and even those who have it are inadequately insured. Going by the rising medical cost, it is imperative for all to have an adequate cover for self and family members. To some extent, the importance of an adequate health cover in terms of the sum insured got its due after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coronavirus-led hospitalisation saw hospital bills run into lakhs, thus jeopardizing finances of those who were unprepared.

For those who wish to buy a cover against coronavirus, there are specific health insurance plans to cover them while the regular health insurance plans already cover them. So, how should one decide, which one to buy and how do they differ? In an exclusive interview with FE Online, Indraneel Chatterjee, co-founder and principal officer, Renewbuy.com, an online insurance aggregator, shares his views on the same. Excerpts:

There are regular health insurance plans that allow coverage of COVID19 hospitalization. Further, there are specific Covid health covers. How should one decide?

In order to offer Covid-19-specific health insurance product, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) asked all general and health insurance companies to offer standard Covid 19 policy. It is a welcome step, especially for people who do not have health insurance. One has to pay the premium for Corona Kavach policy only once at the time of purchase, with a waiting period for 15 days. This makes the procedure seamless, even for a first-time policyholder. The covid policy also provides the costs of consumables like PPEs and there is no capping on room rent, these become substantial parameters.

On the hindsight, most of the existing health policies now allow claims against hospitalization costs against Covid 19. These are subject to the terms and conditions like exclusions, waiting periods, and pre-existing conditions. Health insurance allows a claim if the person is hospitalized for more than 24 hours, claims might not be allowed without hospitalization.

One needs to check how much of Covid related expenses are covered in their health policies. Mostly, health insurance policies cover hospitalization and costs of testing and consultations. Quarantine benefit is the added advantage in Corona Kavach policy, but that can also be added to a regular health policy.

What is most important for a consumer is to have a clear idea about what he or she is looking for in a policy cover. Insurance is meant to mitigate risk and Covid-19 is a small part of that risk. One has to take note of the wider spectrum that can be covered under health policy. Along with Covid 19, a person might also suffer from a sudden accident or uninvited acute illness. A comprehensive health insurance policy usually protects an individual from all illnesses including Covid.

The understanding of individual requirement is of prime importance before choosing any health policy. One should do a thorough comparison before investing in a policy.

For those who already have health insurance plans, should they opt for Covid health insurance plans?

If one is inadequately covered in the comprehensive health plan, it is suggested to opt for a Covid cover. This is because the Covid treatment alone can lead to a substantial bill, which could eat up the entire sum insured of the policyholder for the year. The Covid cover also allows a claim for treatment in temporary hospital facilities, which are dedicated to Covid treatment and home quarantine. As mentioned, it is very important to understand the advantages of Covid 19 policy over existing health policy and then make an informed decision.

What things to watch out for while buying health insurance plans keeping coronavirus in mind?

Keeping the pandemic in view, people have realized the importance of buying a health insurance policy and the demand has increased in this segment. There are several policies available in the market which work differently.

The first mantra is to know the plan one is investing in. Plans can range from an indemnity plan to benefit based plans, individual health plans to critical Illness plans. It is also important to understand the sub-limits of a plan, where one might have to pay a portion of the hospital expenses.

Policyholders should also know if there is a co-payment feature in the health policy. Usually, co-payment comprises of 20% of the bill amount. One of the most important things for a policyholder is to know the amount of coverage which could be based on various factors like the city of residence, hospital costs in the city, family members, senior citizens.

All of the factors might appear a bit overwhelming for a layman. Hence, it is always advisable to reach out to an advisor who can guide a policyholder and make him understand all the benefits as per his family requirements.

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