What are the important riders that can be bought with a basic health insurance plan?

—Rashi Chopra

Several health plans offer riders. The most common add-ons are critical illness, personal accident and hospital cash; all three are fixed benefit plans. A critical illness rider pays a lump sum when the policyholder is diagnosed with a specified critical illness. A personal accident plan pays a lump sum if the person dies due to an accident or suffers permanent disability. In case of hospital cash, a patient gets a fixed amount for each day of hospitalization. Most health plans allow customization. This means that you can opt for a higher deductible and reduce your premium or opt for a higher no-claim bonus or decide to add-on an OPD (out-patient department) benefit. Opt for a high-deductible insurance if you already have a mediclaim, increase your no-claim-bonus to the extent possible to combat medical inflation. OPD benefits can also be useful if you follow the discipline of claiming these.

When evaluating a plan, consider one with no policy restrictions such as room rent capping, disease-wise limits and co-payment. At similar costs, opt for a plan with high no-claim bonus. You can refer to the Mint SecureNow Mediclaim Rating to shortlist a relevant plan.

I have bought a critical illness plan from a reputed insurance company. The plan states that there is a survival period for the payment of the claim. What does that mean? Also, if I make a claim for a critical illness, will the policy cover another illness which I might suffer in future?

—Karishma Shetty

The clause of survival period exists in almost all critical illness plans. This means that after an individual is diagnosed with a critical illness which is covered under the plan, the person has to survive for the stipulated survival period to become eligible for the claim. So, if the policy specifies a survival period of 30 days, it means that the patient should survive for at least 30 days from the date of diagnosis of the illness, and only then would the claim be admissible. The survival period, under most critical illness plans, ranges from 15 to 90 days. You should opt for a plan with a short survival period.

If a claim is made, a critical illness plan usually gets terminated since the entire sum insured is paid as claim. If you suffer from any critical illness in future, the plan will not pay any claim because the coverage won’t be applicable anymore.

Abhishek Bondia is principal officer and managing director, SecureNow.in. Queries and views at mintmoney@livemint.com