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Courtesy the insurance companies, the malaise that was until recently the exclusive preserve of senior citizens has now become universal in its applicability.

I am talking about the vagaries of what you may be called upon to pay as renewal premium on your health insurance policy.

In case of senior citizens, every renewal has, for quite some time now, become a hurdle. Through overt, and even covert, means, insurance companies had generally been making it known to senior citizens that they are quite an unwanted risk, and the insurance companies are ‘obliging’ these worthies by offering them renewal of their policies. If, for any reason, the senior citizen has missed out on the renewal date and the policy has lapsed, the hurdle becomes a nightmare. In any case, if you thought your renewal premium will be the same as what you paid last year since you have not made any claim this year, well, you may have to think again when your insurance company tells you your renewal premium is ‘loaded’. You have become a year older, haven’t you? That’s enough reason for a loading. And a loading of what percentage?? Anybody’s guess. You are almost completely at the mercy of the moods of the insurance company executive who ‘underwrites’ your renewal, since there is no prescribed, leave alone publicized, basis or pattern for this loading.

And now, you don’t have to be a senior citizen but a member of the sprightly brigade in the fountain of youth and yet suffer the same fate – all because, after years of paying premium, last year you ended up in a hospital and in the process, preferred a claim. In my elementary insurance education I had learnt that insurance companies ‘spread the risk’, they are indeed spreading this risk of loading the renewal premium here to the not-so-senior citizens too.

Following a claim, you would probably be prepared mentally to pay a higher renewal premium, but what you are not prepared for is the staggering hike – garbed ‘claim loading’ – that your insurance company asks you to bear. How staggering? Depends on the same mood of the same underwriter!

I have been hearing and reading lots of voices on this, suggesting various measures from meek submission – ‘thank your stars you are at least getting your renewal’ – to mighty legal action through Public Interest Litigation. The PIL lobby however piped down quite a bit when the incumbent Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, on taking oath, immediately followed it by a statement that he will not look kindly upon ‘frivolous’ PILs.

Meek submission is for the cowards willing to be cowed down by the might of the insurance companies; PIL is for the Don Quixotes. Even if your PIL is admitted by a stroke of luck – if you are that lucky, the unassailable mood of the almighty underwriter ought to have already worked in your favour – and proceeds to result in a favourable judgement, that may benefit just a few, and that too by way of an ‘interim’ relief!!

Is there no scientific way for you to have a go at this Goliath - of whimsical loading on your renewal premium - and bring him to his feet? Some workable solution between pleading for mercy and preferring litigation?? Good news is, there is.

You wanna beat them, you need to think like them.

How is it your insurance company is able to pose a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude when it comes to your health insurance renewal? ‘Cause your renewal premium is a minuscule drop in the ocean of their premium base, and not getting your renewal cheque will not impact the insurance companies top line even just a way wee bit. So, bluntly put, you are dispensable!

Insurance is a number game; the larger your number, the more significant you are to your insurance company.

Great, so how do you, the individual, manifest into a large number? Go forth and multiply?? Clone yourself into a million yourselves???

Don’t worry, I am not suggesting anything of that kind.

Am I suggesting you ride the general discontent of other renewal victims like you, be the leading lion and herd all these people together and start a movement??

Not a bad idea, except that I would believe you also have a few other mundane things like your career and home to invest your time and energy into.

If the solution is large numbers, and I am not advocating you initiate creating these large numbers, what am I saying?

Simple, the large numbers are available to you on a platform, and all you need to do is latch on to this instead of reinventing the wheel.

Have you heard of insurance brokers? Have you come across a dedicated health insurance broker? Look for one and place your renewal through this broker. This broker is already offering large enough volumes to the insurance companies that the insurance company cannot simply throw figures at this broker. Not just because this broker is more significant in premium size than you, the individual; but, and more scientifically because, for every renewal of a policy in which there had been a claim, this broker offers a dozen other renewals of claim free policies. This broker is already an aggregator of several renewals and therefore, your post claim renewal, placed through this broker, is seen by your insurance company in the backdrop of all the claim free renewals and fresh insurances that are also given by this broker to your insurance company. So, suddenly, you seem to matter. While this broker may not be able to completely do away with the loading in some cases, he will ensure that the loading, if unavoidable, is reasonable and not arbitrary, by effectively taking up your cause and case with your insurance company. So, with such a broker representing you, your renewal premium will be in the realms of predictability than astrology.

You may have some bonuses thrown in too.

This dedicated health insurance broker will have the wherewithal to offer you multitudes of services related to your health insurance – like renewal reminders, claim services like cashless coordination and so on – absolutely free! And he will even go beyond just health insurance but be your health partner too, offering several health related services – not just curative but, more importantly, preventive!

Afterall, while it is a sensible thing to always carry an adequate health insurance, to stay healthy and avoid getting into a hospital is an altogether better thing, right.

IRDA's newly issued guidelines beneficial for the consumer

All hail the IRDA for it has come to the rescue of consumers! According to new guidelines issued by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on the 2nd of April, 2010, it has become mandatory for health insurance companies to now renew health insurance policies irrespective of the payments already made by the health insurance company against the claims.

In lay man’s terms this newly issued guideline will bar health insurance companies from refuting the renewal of a health insurance policy based on repeated claim settlement. This guideline put into action after the modification of three acts: the Insurance Act, 1938; the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972 and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Act, 1999, will greatly benefit the older population which due to their advanced age requires repeated hospitalization, thereby repeated claim settlement.

Most of the times you forget to renew your policy by a mere 2-3 days, which causes the policy to relapse i.e start anew, wherein it is treated as a new policy and you lose the cover benefits given for the pre-existing diseases; put it simply you lose out on the waiting period already covered for pre-existing diseases and have to do with a new waiting period that is usually 4 years! The new guideline issued by the IRDA has cleared this fallacy up by making it clear that any delay in renewing the policy up to 15 days will have to be excused and the insurance company cannot revoke the benefits given for pre-existing diseases on the basis of non-renewal of the policy up to 15 days.

Moreover the IRDA has made it clear that insurance companies should not force consumers to shift from their current health insurance policy to another, except for when their policy is to be upgraded or discontinued with permission from concerned authorities.

IRDA has also stated that Health insurance companies should provide complete details about the renewal of a policy to the consumer, along with stating in clear terms if there are any changes in the payment of the premium by the consumer; these steps are to ensure that the consumer can make an informed decision whenever he opts to buy or renew his current health insurance policy.   

To know more, click here…

 

 
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