Indian health plans’ sum assured may be inadequate abroad

Most Indian health insurance plans provide restricted international cover. Restrictions pertain to specific ailments, geographies and claims process


Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Pradeep Gaur/Mint

I am going on a Europe tour next month with my family and my travel agent is pushing me to buy travel insurance. I have a family floater policy, which gives me and the family global coverage. Do I need to still buy the travel insurance?

—Sanket Srivastava

A standard travel insurance covers emergency medical costs, accidental death and disability, loss of personal belongings, and out of pocket consequential costs due to flight or baggage delays. I recommend you buy travel insurance as the costs of these incidents overseas can be high.

Most Indian health insurance plans provide restricted international cover. Restrictions pertain to specific ailments, geographies and claims process. Also, the sum assured can be inadequate for international treatment. But if you find that these are covered in your current insurance then the standard travel insurance is less relevant. In that case, buy a standard accidental death and disability policy to supplement your medical insurance. The stand-alone overseas travel insurance is not mandatory, but good to have.

I’m 23 years old and have just started earning. I want to buy a health insurance policy.

—Neetika Tiwari

You should first estimate the sum assured. A rule of thumb is to take a sum assured equal to your annual earnings. In case you have a family history of severe medical issues, you should consider higher limits. It is important to get the sum assured right. The cost of healthcare varies considerably by ailment, choice of hospital and type of care chosen within the hospital. For example, the same surgery can cost twice the amount if a patient chooses a single room compared to a general ward. Cost of medical implants varies depending on the provider. Other factors to consider are policy benefits, insurer’s claims track record, and price. I recommend a plan without sub-limits, co-pay, and disease-wise capping. At a young age, you should select plans that have high no-claim bonus. This helps increase your sum assured in line with medical inflation. You can go through the Mint Mediclaim Ratings to see policies graded on such parameters .

I want to buy a health insurance policy only for cancer. Can it be bought as a top up with my existing health plan?

—Navjot Singhla

There are cancer-specific plans available; these are fixed benefit plans. They work independent of your regular health insurance plan. If the insured is diagnosed with the disease, a lump sum is paid to the insured. Regular health insurance plans will pay for hospitalisation and chemotherapy costs even if you receive the fixed benefit of a cancer plan.

You should consider broader critical illness plans that cover cancer and other major ailments. At a slightly higher cost, these plans cover much more. A stand-alone critical illness plan will cover diseases such as heart attacks, strokes and organ failure.

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