Starting from October, your health insurance premiums are set to increase. To make health insurance products more ’customer-centric’, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has introduced a host of changes in last one year. The insurance regulator made it mandatory for the insurance companies to follow the guidelines and implement the changes in products with effect from October.
To remove ambiguities, Irdai asked the insurer to standardize the exclusions — diseases or medical conditions that are not covered under a policy. Any disease or ailment that is diagnosed by a physician 48 months prior to the issuance of the health cover will be classified as pre-existing diseases. Besides, any condition whose symptoms have resulted within three months of the policy issuance will also be classified under pre-existing diseases. Treatment for mental illness, stress will now be covered under health insurance policies.
"Insurers are using this time to revamp their offerings by adding new features and standardizing products, according to IRDAI’s guidelines. They will launch the revamped products with a higher price. The rise in premiums could be in the range of 5-20%," said Nirmal Bhattacharya - chief underwriter, Universal Sompo General Insurance Company.
"Removal of ambiguity in exclusions and inclusion of modern treatments methods such as oral chemotherapy, balloon sinuplasty, deep brain stimulation will widen the scope of health insurance. Treatment for mental illness, stress or psychological and neurodegenerative disorders have also been brought under the purview of health insurance. This inclusion would have pricing impact on the basis of the increment in the procedure expenses," he further added.
The standardization of health insurance product aims to help the customer, Bhattacharya believes. These standardised clauses should be incorporated in the new policies filed by insurers on or after October 1, 2020, and for existing products which are due for renewal from April 1, 2021.
How is standardization of insurance products going to benefit the policyholders? He answered, "Due to availability of multiple health insurance products in Indian insurance market, people are often confused which one to take because they don’t have time or energy to go through bulky policy documents. Standardization of health insurance will help to know about product and claim settlement process merely through word of mouth."
On whether you should pay some extra cash on health insurance, Bhattacharya said, "You must know that by paying extra premium, health insurance products will become more inclusive, less complicated and more attractive for customers."
Apart from the standardization of products, Irdai asked the insurance companies to ensure coverage for telemedicine. In the wake of coronavirus outbreak, telemedicine service is gaining popularity. The regulator also advised insurers to provide more rational and customer-friendly claim deductions to policyholders.