Should you get Covid-19 insurance?

Health insurance companies are providing policies to cover coronavirus infections, but most coverage amounts are very low

Salil Panchal
Published: Apr 23, 2020 10:06:43 AM IST
Updated: Apr 23, 2020 10:19:13 AM IST

Life is not a template and neither is mine. Like several who have worked as journalists, I am a generalist in my over two decade experience across print, global news wires and dotcom firms. But there has been one underlying theme in each phase; life gave me the chance to observe and tell a story -- from early days tracking a securities scam to terror attacks and some of India's most significant court trials. Besides writing, I have jumped fences to become an entrepreneur, as an investment advisor -- and also taught the finer aspects of business journalism to young minds. At Forbes India, I also keep an eye on some of its proprietary specials like the Rich list, GenNext and Celebrity lists. An alumnus of Xavier Institute of Communications and H.R College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai, I have worked for organisations such as Agence France-Presse, Business Standard, The Financial Express and The Times of India prior to this.

health insuranceIllustration: Shutterstock

The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has led to a range of insurance products being introduced in the market, to offer a cover that would take care of hospitalisation and treatment. Companies such as Star Health, ICICI Lombard, Future Generali, Digit and Paytm have introduced Covid-19-specific policies for those who contract the disease.

Forbes India's assessment shows that most of these policies—usually for a one-year term—do not provide adequate cover, with the sum insured being too small. For example, Star Health & Allied Insurance’s Star Novel Coronavirus policy covers for an amount of ₹21,000 and ₹42,000 while ICICI Lombard’s Covid-19 Protection Insurance Cover provides for a cover of ₹25,000.

For those who do not have any health insurance policy, these might be a good starting point. For others, a specific Covid-19 policy might be considered as a top-up to their existing policy, so that it can take care of issues such as loss of income during the illness. Most existing health issues and claims would get covered by standard existing health insurance plans, as mandated by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. However some health policies do not cover for epidemics. For buying a policy that covers Covid-19, a person will have to undergo the PCR (polymerise chain reaction) test, but will be covered regardless of the test result.

“It is important to have a comprehensive health insurance cover with an adequate sum insured,” says Amit Chhabra, business head (health) at PolicyBazaar. The “adequate” sum insured should at least be ₹10 lakh per person for people living in larger metros.

Sanjay Datta, chief of underwriting and claims, ICICI Lombard, says, “We are seeking to help those who have mild Covid-19 symptoms. If they are quarantined at home or are being treated in hospital, this policy would help mitigate some expenses.” Their policy claims to pay 100 percent of the sum insured in a lumpsum, regardless of the hospitalisation expenses.

Click here to see Forbes India's comprehensive coverage on the Covid-19 situation and its impact on life, business and the economy​

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(This story appears in the 08 May, 2020 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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