Covid survivors buying health cover for first time face scrutiny

MUMBAI: With nearly 1.6 crore Indians having tested positive for Covid, the number of first-time insurance buyers who are likely to face scrutiny is rising. While it is usual for insurers to inquire about pre-existing diseases before selling a health cover, Covid has made insurers turn cautious as they its long-term impact on organs is not known.
While rising incidents makes it a stronger case for people to buy health insurance before infection strikes, insurers say that often it is hospitalisation that makes people realise the need for a medical policy.
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The quotes that health insurers provide for various ages are for “standard proposals” or those without pre-existing conditions. In the case of Covid, insurers treat it as a pre-existing condition and acceptance of the proposal depends on each company’s underwriting criteria. While the underwriting criteria are not made public, industry sources say that these range from requiring Covid negative certificate to asking applicants to wait between two-to-six months before onboarding them. If the patient is hospitalised and suffered damage to lungs, they could face exclusions.

“Considering the rapid spread of new variant of Covid, it is hard to say anything about the long-term effects of it. Most insurers are a bit iffy about on-boarding customers who have just recovered from Covid, as a result insurer put a cooling off period of 3-6 months after Covid detection,” said Amit Chhabra, head of health insurance at
According to Rashmi Nandargi, head of retail health insurance underwriting at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, for 80% of Covid survivors, it should not be a problem because they have mild symptoms, and they are under home quarantine. “For those who are hospitalised, the acceptance will depend on how severe the infection has been, whether any organs were impacted, whether the person has been on the ventilator,” said Nandargi.
Chhabra points out that given the rate at which Covid is spreading, it is advisable for all to invest in health insurance and not wait as it may become difficult to get cover immediately after recovering from Covid.
“Even after a person is discharged, medical protocol says that they must be tested and get a Covid negative report to be declared Covid-free. That itself takes a few weeks. After the report, the proposal is assessed based on whether there have been any other conditions and severity of the infection,” said Nandargi, adding that all should buy health insurance as a risk-mitigation tool.

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