Indian insurers collected a record ₹7,245 crore in health insurance premiums in this quarter till May end so far as fear of rising healthcare exigencies in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak gripped masses across the country.
Insurers underwrote premiums of ₹6,705.20 crore in April-May period of last year. Premium collections in April this year was at ₹4,509.36 crore showed data from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai).
Standalone health insurance companies underwrote a total premium of ₹1,876.31 crore during April-May this year, a more than twofold increase from ₹870.26 crore in the same period last year. In April last year, these insurers underwrote premium of ₹787.08 crore.
Premium collections from new policies and limit enhancement of existing policies are likely to grow further, given the heightened health risk associated with the covid-19 pandemic, said insurers.
“Increased awareness will lead to people seeking health insurance more in the short term, and we hope that this remains the trend in the long run as well. We have observed more traction in group insurance than individual health insurance," said Atul Sahai, chairman and managing director (MD), New India Assurance.
“The increase in health insurance business is because of the increasing concern among public to cover themselves against covid risks," said Sanjay Datta, chief, underwriting, claims and reinsurance, ICICI Lombard General Insurance.
“Because of covid, the health insurance industry has seen a drastic change as the demand and awareness around health insurance benefits have grown rapidly. At Max Bupa, May has been a month of remarkable turnaround for the business and we have achieved 16% growth. We expect the upward trend to continue through the year as there is immense opportunity for the health insurance sector with customer mindset changing, and making products digitally enabled," said Krishnan Ramachandran, MD and chief executive officer, Max Bupa Health Insurance.
“The health insurance sector has seen around 10,000 claims so far, and at Max Bupa, we have received about 500 claims, with the average claim size of ₹2 lakh," said Ramachandran.
The cost of covid treatment, including pre- and post-hospitalization is ₹1.2-2.5 lakh but hospitalization costs tend to go up manifold if a patient has comorbidities, making it prohibitively expensive for many. “The health insurance premium growth should be 15-20% for the June quarter and September quarter, but a clearer picture will emerge in July," said Datta.