Covid-19: Switch to comprehensive insurance policy for broader coverage

The short-term Covid polices — Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak — had found many takers, and experts believe allowing portability is a positive step
With the pandemic showing no sign of ending anytime soon, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai) has offered relief to policyholders, allowing those who bought low-cost, standard Covid-19 policies to switch to comprehensive health insurance policies. 

The short-term Covid polices — Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak — had found many takers, and experts believe allowing portability is a positive step. S Prakash, MD of Star Health and Allied Insurance, says: “It will nudge low-cost, short-term health insurance buyers to become routine health insurance buyers.” 

Irdai’s guidelines cover renewal, migration (moving to a comprehensive health policy offered by the same insurer) and portability (moving to a comprehensive policy of another insurer) of Covid-specific health policies. The move is timely. Says Gurdeep Singh Batra, head (retail underwriting) Bajaj Allianz General Insurance: “The purpose of the Covid policies is to mainly cover the treatment costs against the immediate health risks that people face due to the pandemic. And the Covid-19 vaccine is yet to come.”

Renewal: Guidelines apply to both Corona Rakshak and Corona Kavach policies. They can be renewed for 3 ½, 6 ½ or 9 ½ months before the existing policy expires. Says Amit Chhabra, head (health business), PolicyBazaar: “Those who were unable to buy a plan with a higher sum insured in the initial months can now enhance the sum insured if they feel that treatment costs could exceed the cover they have.”

The policyholder may enhance the sum insured at the time of renewal. For any increase, the waiting period will start afresh only for the enhanced portion of the sum insured. On renewal, coverage will continue without the additional waiting period of 15 days. Renewal is permitted till March 31.

Experts say these policies should ideally not be renewed. Naval Goel, CEO of PolicyX.com, says: “Don’t renew these policies unless you can’t afford a new comprehensive health policy, or are unable to get one, as you are uninsurable.”

Migration: In case of Corona Kavach individual policies, insurers can offer migration to any other indemnity-based health product, depending on the option exercised by the policyholder. Says Chhabra: “Customers can migrate or port to other comprehensive health policies till the end of the policy period of the existing Covid policy. This will help seamlessly move into a cover that provides overall protection, and not just for Covid.” 

 
The regulator has put in place firm norms regarding waiting period. The circular says: “Where migration is allowed, accrued gains of waiting period served in the existing Corona Kavach policy shall be protected in respect of coverage for Covid-19, in the migrated policy.”

Porting: Customers may port their policy to another insurer. Says Goel: “Port if you are not happy with the service, price, or terms of the comprehensive plan offered by your current insurer.” In case of porting, too, the accrued gains of waiting period served in the existing policy will be protected in respect of coverage of Covid-19.

How porting takes place
  • The insured must approach a new insurer at least 45 days before the current policy expires
  • They must fill the proposal form, fill in the details asked for, and provide copies of their policy
  • New health insurer will approach existing insurer to learn about the person’s medical and claims history
  • New health insurer may accept or reject the proposal, based on the firm’s underwriting norms
  • It must decide within 15 days whether to accept or reject the proposal
  • If it delays beyond that, it will have to compulsorily accept the proposal




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