Unable to get health cover? Buy a standard vector-borne disease insurance

Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, etc. Dengue and malaria are among the common diseases
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has asked all general and health insurance companies to offer Mashak Rakshak, a standard vector-borne disease health policy, from April 1.

Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, etc. Dengue and malaria are among the common diseases. Their incidence rises during the monsoon season. Treatment of these diseases can easily cost Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh, and sometimes more.

According to Gurdeep Singh Batra, head-retail underwriting, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, “The standard vector-borne disease health policy is being introduced well in time — prior to the onset of the monsoon — when people suffer most from such ailments.”

Key features

The standard policy is available both as an individual and floater cover. It is a benefit (lump sum paid on diagnosis), and not an indemnity policy (where the insured is compensated for actual expenses). The minimum sum insured is Rs 10,000 and the maximum Rs 2 lakh. The sum insured can increase in multiples of Rs 10,000. The policy tenure is one year. Only the single-premium mode of payment is available.

The standard product will pay 100 per cent of the sum insured (excluding the amount paid under diagnosis cover) on continuous hospitalisation for a minimum 72 hours. It will also offer a diagnosis cover equal to 2 per cent of the sum insured on positive diagnosis (through laboratory examination and confirmed by the medical practitioner) on first diagnosis during the cover period.  

Pros and cons of the policy

The standard policy can have no variants across insurers. This makes it simple and easy to understand. Price comparison becomes easy. It will be available both as an individual and as a floater cover. So, the entire family can be covered by one policy. Allowing the sum insured to be increased in multiples of Rs 10,000 will allow customers to buy according to what they can afford.

On the flip side, it is a single-premium plan. “People in lower-income groups may find it difficult to pay the premium at one go,” says Naval Goel chief executive officer PolicyX.com. Treatment outside India will not be covered. It will also not be triggered by domiciliary hospitalisation (treatment at home) or day-care OPD (outpatient department). Also, the pay-off will get triggered on hospitalisation for a minimum 72 hours (not 24 hours, as in a normal hospitalisation cover).

Who should go for a vector policy?

This policy may also be useful to those unable to get a comprehensive health cover, like senior citizens, so that they have at least some protection.  

Buying this benefit plan will provide an added layer of protection to those who already have medical insurance.

Says Sanjay Datta, chief of underwriting, claims and reinsurance, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, “It can act as a supplementary plan for individuals with existing health insurance coverage.”

Adds Goel: “A standard health insurance cover kicks in when you get hospitalised. However, in such diseases, the majority of the treatment usually happens at home after initial hospitalisation.” He adds this policy can compensate for loss of income.

As for whether one should go for the standard cover or one of the existing policies from insurers, Goel says: “It is likely to be more transparent.” He adds that buyers should decide once these covers are launched and information on pricing becomes available.

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