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With covid-19 vaccines being administered across India, it may be expected that health policy claim rates would gradually fall compared with the initial months of the pandemic.

However, scepticism remains about discounts being offered on health insurance policy premiums for those who have been vaccinated, as the effects and side-effects of the vaccines are still unclear. There can be chances that the insurer may not offer discounts if they have to pay for claims pertaining to the vaccination's side-effects.​

Also Read | The great financial crunch: How the pandemic sank Indian states

Rakesh Goyal, director, Probus Insurance, said, “In regard to the underwriting process, one-time health check-ups can be offered, or some discounted health check-up coupons can be given. This will help policyholders gain access to quality health check-ups and track their health status. In future, the insurer can offer discounts to policyholder up to the age of 45 years and can waive the waiting period."

Nevertheless, it’s too early to say that there will be a discount on normal premium for those who get vaccinated. “Our view is for the people with co-morbidities, who are normally applied loading or co-pay for severe co-morbidity conditions such as thyroid, osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension with more than 5 years' history, will have lesser loading or co-pay in case they are vaccinated. “The reason being if you are vaccinated for covid-19 and have co-morbidities, the chances of complications and, therefore, higher bills for hospitalization are reduced to a large extent. Hence, we would like to clarify that a person with co-morbidities, if vaccinated, will have a milder loading/co-pay than a person with same co-morbidities and is not vaccinated," said Nikhil Apte, chief product officer-Health Insurance, Royal Sundaram General Insurance.

So looking at past trends, despite another covid wave spreading across various cities, there might be no burden on insurers caused by a large number of claims, as people largely are being treated at their homes and don’t require any hospitalization.

“Vaccination discounts on premium might become a reality in the future, in case there is a recurrence of a pandemic such as covid, affecting the health of the masses to an implausible extent. In that scenario, insurers can leverage the vaccination to reduce the rapid claims made by policyholders," said Naval Goel, founder and chief executive officer, PolicyX.com.

Goel further said, “Discounts or rewards, if any, will vary from insurer to insurer on the basis that how much benefits they want to give to their policyholders. However, there will be a marginal amount of relaxation as the regulator has already mandated to cover covid-19 claims under the regular on-going health policies, which include coverage for various other aliments."

Echoing Goel, Chandan D.S. Dang, executive director, SecureNow.in, said, “Currently no insurer will give discounts on premium to those who get vaccinated [against covid]. This is because health policy does not have provisions for such discounts over the approved rates." Dang added, "Even those who are vaccinated may continue to carry a covid risk [though at a reduced level] as evidenced by stray cases of covid being reported among the vaccinated population. Hence the insurer is not expected to remove or reduce the cool-off waiting period or charge a lower premium if the prospective client is vaccinated. However, some insurers have said that covid claims will not result in a reduction of the no-claim bonus. This is a material benefit being given."

However, on the whole, it is pertinent to note that ongoing developments in the benefits of various covid vaccines are being reported almost daily. Individuals are expected to enjoy the inherent health benefits through protection from covid by availing of vaccination and adopting physical distancing and mask usage. Insurance is additional risk protection available. It is always best if one can avoid the mishap through vaccination and due precautions, rather than suffer it and then claim insurance.

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