It’s been almost seven months that the world has been grappling with the deadly Coronavirus. The pandemic has affected more than 200 countries around the world. What’s even scarier is that scientists and health experts believe that the pandemic has not yet reached its peak.
COVID-19 has crippled the healthcare system and also adversely affected the economic infrastructure of countries around the globe. Thus, amid the global health crisis, we’re also facing severe financial instability and distress.
This inevitably brings to light the most important truths of the present situation – you must take care of your health and plan well to ensure financial stability and security for you and your loved ones. At present, investing in a health insurance policy seems to be the best way to safeguard your health and financial position.
What’s all the fuss about COVID-19 health insurance plans?
In light of the worsening COVID-19 crisis, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has directed all health insurance companies to offer a standard COVID-19 insurance plan from June 15, 2020. Under this standard policy, the minimum sum insured under this policy is ₹50,000. You can, however, increase this amount in the multiples of ₹50,000, going up to ₹5 lakh.
Following IRDAI’s declaration for creating niche health insurance products specific to COVID-19, major players in the industry have already started offering COVID-19 health insurance plans. While all of these COVID-19 health insurance products have a one-year indemnity period, the benefits of these products vary from company to company. Some of the benefits covered under these COVID-specific insurance plans include ambulance charges, hospitalization expenses, quarantine charges, treatment expenses, and ICU/ICC charges, to name a few.
What to look for in a COVID-specific health insurance policy?
Here are five things to consider while choosing a COVID-specific health insurance policy:
1. Eligibility criteria
The first thing to check while considering buying a COVID-19 health insurance policy is whether or not you fall under the specified age bracket. Usually, the standard age bracket for health insurance policies is between 18-65 years. So, make sure you are eligible for the product.
2. Sum insured
As mentioned before, the sum insured for different COVID-specific health insurance products depends on the company offering the insurance. Thus, you must check out different insurance plans and compare their sum insured, and the premium amounts to get a better sense of what you will have to pay and the benefits you will get. While some insurance plans may come with very low premiums, the sum insured amount of such policies will hardly be sufficient to cover the hefty COVID-related expenses.
3. Policy term along with free-look period
Although nobody can predict for how long the pandemic will last, a standard COVID-19 insurance policy must have a one-year indemnity period. So, while choosing a COVID-specific product, make sure it has one full year’s coverage. Another vital aspect to consider is the free-look period or cancellation period. Check whether the product you choose has a cancellation period (15 days) so that you can opt-out of the plan if you no longer want it.
4. Tax benefits
According to Section 80D of the Income Tax Act of 1961, if you purchase a health insurance plan, you are eligible for a tax exemption of a maximum of ₹25,000. COVID-specific health insurance products shouldn’t be an exception to tax exemption. Thus, while comparing products, check which ones offer significant tax benefits.
5. Emergency transportation facilities
Transportation facilities should be a part of your COVID-19 health insurance plan. This feature will prove extremely useful for those who do not have private vehicles. If your insurance plan includes a provision for ambulance facilities and covers transportation costs, you will have the option to reach the hospital in time if things go down south.
A few other standard exclusions to consider while making your decision:
- How and under what specific circumstances will you be eligible for the insurance coverage under the COVID-19 insurance policy?
- How long will you have to wait before you can claim the sum insured under the policy?
- Is there any provision for riders under the insurance policy?
Should you opt for COVID-19 health insurance plans?
The question of whether or not you should opt for COVID-19 health insurance plans is debatable. Essentially, the existing healthcare plans and the basic indemnity health insurance products do cover the treatment and other related costs of most diseases, including COVID-19. In that regard, there are special categories that cover critical illnesses.
The fact is – if you already have a health insurance plan with the standard benefits and coverage, you need not purchase an additional COVID-19 healthcare insurance policy. However, if you don’t have any health insurance plans yet, you can certainly purchase a COVID-specific insurance plan. Since these plans have a one-year term and come with affordable premiums (as compared to a traditional health insurance policy), they are excellent options to protect your health and finances in the short-term as the pandemic rages on.
The new COVID-19 health insurance plans can act as a temporary risk cover for you and your loved ones. Furthermore, niche health insurance products usually have an easy claim process so that you can get the necessary treatment without undergoing any hassle while claiming the insured amount.
We hope this article helps you to make an informed decision!
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