Home >Money >Personal Finance >Should you buy a Coronavirus-specific health insurance policy?
Photo: iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Should you buy a Coronavirus-specific health insurance policy?

  • Taking cue from the increasing panic and rapid spread of the virus, insurers have started offering specific products for Coronavirus alone
  • Policyholder gets the full sum insured on being tested positive for the illness after which the policy terminates

NEW DELHI : More and more people are testing positive for COVID-19 (popularly known as Coronavirus) globally. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, as many as 1,792 new cases were reported outside China on Tuesday alone. In India, the total number of confirmed cases was at 28 as on Tuesday.

Taking cue from the increasing panic and rapid spread of the virus, insurers have started offering specific products for Coronavirus alone. Digit Insurance, under the Inusrance Regulatory and Development Authority’s Sandbox regulations, has launched a defined-benefit health insurance policy for Coronavirus. Policyholder gets the full sum insured on being tested positive for the illness after which the policy terminates.

The premium for the policy starts at Rs. 299 (including taxes) for a sum insured of Rs. 25,000. You have the option to increase your sum insured up to Rs. 2,00,000 and the premium will be calculated accordingly. For example, for a 50,000 sum insured, you will pay a premium of about Rs. 599.

“One restriction which comes with a regular health insurance policy is that it requires 24 hours hospitalization for you to be able to file a claim. Some policies do include out-patient (OPD) expenses but most products which include OPD expenses don’t have many takers because the premium is relatively higher," said Vivek Chaturvedi, head of marketing and direct (online) sales, Digit Insurance. Within 24 hours of its launch, Chaturvedi said the company has sold over 200 policies.

WHAT THE POLICY COVERS

The policy is valid for one year and the cover will be exhausted after the payment of 100% sum insured. Anyone below the age of 75 can avail the product which comes with a 15 days waiting period. The product comes with a defined benefit which means if you’ve been tested positive for coronavirus and file a claim, you’d be eligible for 100% of the sum insured. In case you’re quarantined which could lead to loss of income, you will be eligible for 50% of the sum insured.

However, note that the policy comes with a host of terms and conditions. In order to be eligible for the claim, the insured should not have been in contact with anyone with suspected history of COVID- 19 till the end of the policy tenure. Also, the insured or their immediate family members should not have travelled to countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, Iran, Behrain, Kuwait, Taiwan since 1December 2019. Policyholders suffering from symptoms such as cough with or without sputum, cold or nasal block, fever with pody pain and shortness of breath for the last six weeks will also not be eligible.

“The product has many exclusions making the plan very specific. Consequentially, it may not be a product that everyone will look forward to buying," said Rakesh Goyal, director, Probus Insurance, an Insurtech broking company

If you travel abroad after buying the policy and end up contracting the virus, you will be covered only if you’ve traveled to any country other than China, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Taiwan, said Chaturvedi.

SHOULD YOU GO FOR IT?

Note that this is a disease-specific plan and comes with a list of exclusions which could make it difficult for you to file a claim. If you already have a standard health insurance plan, it makes little sense to go for this. “As of now, all health and general insurance companies are ready to support the insured in case of any claims filed for Coronavirus under their health plan," said Goyal.

You could consider this product if you don’t have a health insurance policy in place and are worried about contracting the virus. However, Mint recommends going for a standard health plan first as it would cover you for hospitalization under any condition. Many health policies now also cover for pre and post-hospitalisation expenses.

Shwta Jain, founder and CEO, Investography, a financial planning firm agrees. "There are just too many exclusions and for a disease that's easy to contract (Coronavirus), the policy has gaps which will leave very few people eligible for the cover. One must ensure she has a standard health cover in place before going for a disease-specific policy."

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