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Home >Money >Personal Finance >Why buying Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak online may not be easy

About 30 insurance companies started offering the regulator-mandated standard covid-19 health insurance product—Corona Kavach—from 10 July and select insurers are also offering the standard benefit-based policy—Corona Rakshak. For now, the factors of premiums and online purchase could play a role in your buying decision.

Though the features and wordings of both the policies are standard across insurers, their premiums vary to a large extent, encouraging potential buyers to go for insurers that have priced the products at the lower end compared to others. Another factor that people could consider while buying these policies is the issue of online purchase.

With social distancing a necessity due to covid-19, people may prefer buying the policies online, especially those with co-morbidities as they would be at higher risk to the infection. Most insurers, however, are not offering the policies online. Among the ones that are doing so, a few are not allowing online purchase for those having specific pre-existing conditions. Such individuals may find it challenging to buy these policies offline too. Experts said there could be cases where individuals with pre-existing diseases may end up getting a policy but this could involve agents not disclosing all the details, causing trouble at the time of claim.

Lack of online availability

Insurers said time constraint was a big reason why most of them were not offering the policies for online purchase yet.

Ravi Vishwanath, president, accident and health, HDFC Ergo General Insurance Co. Ltd, said Corona Kavach was launched on 10 July and while the information related to the policy is already available on the company’s website, they’re working hard to offer the policy online in a few weeks. “Since we have a large distribution force, it takes some time before all channels can get activated."

Aditya Birla Health Insurance Co. Ltd is working on the online readiness and the product will be available soon, said CEO Mayank Bathwal. “The product was launched in a very short time. The response from the customers has been encouraging and Corona Kavach can be bought from our large distribution set-up where our distributors may assess your health insurance needs and advise you the offering that’s most suitable for you."

Gurdeep Singh Batra, head-retail underwriting, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd, said the time duration to launch Corona Kavach was a key factor for why the policy is not available for direct online purchase. “We wanted to bring out the product to the masses as per the timelines for which we have enabled the ‘call us’ facility. However, we are in the process of developing direct online purchase of the product as well."

An insurance expert, who didn’t want to be named, said only insurers who have priced the product extremely high may not want to go aggressive and sell this product. For others, the short timeline may have been a problem. He added that most insurers take longer to develop the product from a tech standpoint which may have delayed the online availability.

Note that at least three insurers are currently offering the Corona Kavach policy through online aggregators. “In the case of Corona Kavach, it’s a fairly simplistic proposal form which any customer can fill in two minutes and buy the policy. Some insurers check for pre-existing diseases and may apply some loading. While some insurers can reject the proposal based on their underwriting norms, there are some companies which don’t have any medical questions and do not apply any loading," said Amit Chhabra, health insurance head, Policybazaar.com

Challenges for those with pre-existing diseases

A few experts said insurers may not be finding it financially viable to cover a person with co-morbidities, which explains why those with pre-existing conditions might find it challenging to buy online or even otherwise.

“Even people who are approaching agents to buy the covid-19 policies are unable to get a cover for family members who suffer from chronic diseases. I think there is a fear of experiencing high volume of claims which is natural because of the 15 days’ waiting period," said Mahavir Chopra, founder, Beshak.org, an independent research platform for insurance buyers.

So what could have been the way out? “My view is that the government should have enabled PSU insurers to provide policies seamlessly over the internet to the public at large, including elderly citizens with chronic ailments, maybe with some loading, if they want to. Currently, either they are not offering the policies online or putting blockers for people with chronic conditions," said Chopra.

While insurers have said that they are working towards offering the covid-19 policies online, how many of them will finally provision for it remains to be seen.

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