Coronavirus (Covid-19) Insurance: As the COVID-19 outbreak has gone from worse to worst, it has left lakhs of people dead, reaching nearly every continent on earth. Economies around the world are sinking and hospitals are scrambling for equipment and beds as more and more people continue to get infected each day. Millions of people around the world have lost their jobs and daily life for millions more has been upended in ways both – big and small. Everyone around wants to be safe and healthy. However, often during times like these, people get into an unwanted panic situation where they are not sure if their health and life insurance policies will cover them under the ongoing pandemic. Several life insurers, general insurers and specialised health insurers have reported of being flooded with customer queries with anxious customers trying to know the extent of coverage being offered by their insurer and the impact of the ongoing pandemic on their insurance policies.
Here are answers to many such questions, on various insurance products.
Is death due to COVID-19 infection covered under term life insurance plans?
Term life insurance policyholders have been constantly reaching out to their insurers seeking clarifications on the eligibility of death claims if it occurs due to COVID-19. The life insurers have clarified that death reported due to COVID-19 infection will be treated at par with any general death and the claim will be admissible if the coronavirus infection was diagnosed in the policyholder post policy issuance and completion of waiting period i.e. one year. No special terms and conditions are applicable in case of a death due to COVID-19 and it will be treated as any other death case. The life insurance industry has taken many proactive steps upon the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, one being covering death due to COVID-19 under term insurance policy. This is to ensure that policyholders are at peace in the time of pandemic.
Is COVID-19 infection covered under regular health insurance policy?
As per guidelines issued by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India, all claims related with the COVID-19 treatment (including the quarantine period) will be liable to get the coverage under a standard health plan. It will be there to assist the insured with the normal cover on hospitalisation for any viral infection, including coronavirus. All the features that you get under your chosen health insurance plan will be applicable to COVID-19 treatment as well. However, in order to avail treatment through your medical insurance, you need to be hospitalised for at least 24 hours. During your hospitalisation, all your expenses will be covered for treatment of the ailment including pre and post hospitalisation expenses.
How can life and health insurance policies be bought as the nation continues to remain under complete lockdown?
One can easily buy a health and term life insurance policy online through the insurer’s website or through an online web aggregator. Though, one must know that to buy a term life insurance and health insurance, one needs to undergo a medical test. Now, with the entire country under complete lockdown, the insurers have simplified their underwriting process by providing insurance both, health and life insurance to people through the process of tele medical – a distance mode underwriting methods – in place of conducting physical medical test at the medical centres. In order to promote social distancing, the insurers have partnered with prominent online aggregators to offer insurance to the potential customers through telemedical consultation instead of a physical medical test. Under the tele medical process, while buying a health and term life insurance, the customers will be asked to provide some information about their basic health condition to an appointed doctor over the phone. You can buy a health insurance plan up to 2 crore sum insured through telemedical, while a term life insurance with up to 1 crore sum assured can be bought through telemedical.
Moreover, the Central government has permitted e-KYC for 20 private life insurers (almost all life insurers registered with IRDAI), and six general insurance companies. eKYC or Digital KYC is a very helpful and paperless Aadhaar-based process for fulfilling the KYC requirements while buying insurance.
What is the approximate cost of treatment of COVID-19 infection?
The cost of COVID-19 treatment in private hospital rooms comes around Rs 2 lakh in tier 3 cities, Rs 3 lakh in tier 2 cities and Rs 5 lakh in tier 1 cities. Similarly, COVID-19 treatment in private super-speciality hospital rooms would cost Rs 7 lakh in tier 2 cities and Rs 8 lakh in metros. In private super-speciality hospitals with ICU and ventilators the cost would be Rs 9 lakh in tier 2 state capital cities and Rs 12.5 lakh in metros. It is generally assumed that the treatment duration can be as long as 15 days. However, for people with pre-existing disease like diabetes, BP, Cardiac or with Chest-related disease history, the cost of treatment can be as high as Rs 18 – 20 lakh.
What should you do if your vehicle insurance expires during the Coronavirus lockdown?
Taking a note of the ongoing nationwide lockdown when the offices of most of the insurers are closed, the government decided to extend the validity of the vehicle documents that expire during the lockdown. As per a notification issued by the Ministry of Finance all those compulsory third-party insurance policies are expiring between March 25, 2020, and May 3, 2020 have been further extended till May 15, 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown. This means that if your current compulsory third-party insurance policy is expiring between March 25, 2020, and May 3, 2020, and you are not able to renew your policy because of the country-wide lockdown, then you may renew it by May 15, 2020.
However, if you have enough money, you must renew your motor insurance before it expires as not doing so may lead to higher premium, loss of No Claim Bonus (NCB) and will also need inspection of the vehicle. Therefore, it is advised that the customers who have third party insurance policies and aren’t able to afford the premium in such hard times can postpone but, others should renew on time to ensure they don’t undergo further troubles later.
The author is Head-Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com. Opinions expressed are those of the author.