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COVID-19 propels rush for health cover: retail policy premium income up 31% in July

Health policy premium income at the retail level (individuals) rose 31 per cent to Rs 7,124 crore as of July 2020 from Rs 5,667 crore last July, as per figures released by General Insurance (GI) Council.

Written by George Mathew | Mumbai | August 19, 2020 4:04:53 am
militancy deaths, municipal members,J&K administration, srinagar news, Kashmir news, indian express newsHealth policy premium income at retail level (individuals) rose to Rs 7,124 crore from Rs 5,667 crore last July. (File)

The health insurance portfolio of insurers is rising at a faster rate, with the number of individuals going for health cover surging as never before due to the surging COVID-19 cases across the country.

Health policy premium income at the retail level (individuals) rose 31 per cent to Rs 7,124 crore as of July 2020 from Rs 5,667 crore last July, as per figures released by General Insurance (GI) Council. This is because people have started taking health insurance in large numbers due to the rising COVID infections, insurance officials said. The overall health insurance segment (including retail and group) has registered a 10.4 per cent rise in premium income to Rs 18,415 crore as of July 2020 from Rs 16,674 crore a year ago, the GI Council data reads.

Even as COVID cases surged in the country, the Corona Kavach health insurance policy has evoked a good response within days of its launch by almost all insurers. In 20 days, between July 10 and 31, as many as 4.50 lakh individuals were covered by the health insurers with their standardised health cover ‘Corona Kavach Policy’ and nearly 70,000 COVID-related claims worth Rs 700 crore were settled by insurance companies, a senior Irdai official said. As on August 14, overall COVID-related insurance claims are 1,15,000 with value of claims at around Rs 1,800 crore, said a source.

Corona Kavach, which was launched on July 10 and is offered by both general and health insurers, is a standard health insurance policy created to meet the treatment requirements for coronavirus. However, health insurers have sought a cap on treatment costs, amid hospitals jacking them up. Without a cap on costs, premium will rise, said an insurance company official.

Last month, the GI Council had come out with a schedule of rates for COVID-19 claims being filed with its member insurance companies, capping the ICU with ventilator care at Rs 18,000 per day in the case of ‘very severe sickness’ in hospitals accredited with National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH). However, this has been proved insufficient with patients being forced to fork out the balance amount charged by hospitals.

Meanwhile, aided by the spurt in health and fire & property insurance cover, the general insurance industry has managed to achieve a comeback from the decline recorded in the Q1 of FY21 to garner a premium income of Rs 56,342 crore as of July 2020, a rise of 1.62 per cent over the same period of last year.

However, according to Atul Sahai, Chairman and MD, New India Assurance (NIA), going forward, it wouldn’t be that smooth sailing for the industry because of the situation triggered by COVID-19. Bucking the trend, NIA and another PSU United India Insurance is the only companies that consistently maintained a positive growth since March.

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