Covid Patients Forced To Wait 3 Months For Buying New Insurance Policy: Unfair, Unethical?
Insurance companies have placed a waiting period before issuing a new policy to people who have recovered from Covid.
The waiting period requirement which was applicable for general ailments is now required for Covid cases as well.
It is standard practice for life and health insurance companies to have people wait a certain period with respect to certain ailments to gauge the risk before selling a policy.
The waiting period for Covid-recovered people applies to life insurance policies only and not health.
It will be applicable to only new retail customers, existing policyholders will not be impacted.
It has been instituted for Covid cases due to the high mortality rate of the virus which has impacted the reinsurance business.
Reinsurance players provide the cover for policies issued by insurers.
The waiting period starts after recovery and ranges from 1-3 months depending on hospitalisation or home quarantine conditions.
Those undergoing prolonged hospital stay have to wait longer for 3 months compared to 1 month for those with mild symptoms and in home quarantine.
Additional Medical Tests Required
Industry experts say that the waiting period rule is standard practice not just in India but all over the world.
Insurers have also started demanding additional tests depending on the severity of the infection and if hospitalization was required before issuing a policy.
The waiting period gives insurers time to assess any post-COVID complications and will accordingly make those declarations at the time of buying the policy.
Unique Case Due To Pandemic
Before the pandemic, there would have been fewer people with any medical condition in the past 6 months.
Now with the omicron variant and the subsequent third wave, the number of sick people has shot up.
“As a result, the proposal for term insurance gets into the zone of scrutiny where additional medical tests are asked for or might get postponed for 3 months”, Sajja Praveen Chowdary-Head Term Life Insurance, Policybazaar.com explained.
The issue gets more complicated as people may be unwilling to step out for medical tests or let someone come home to collect samples.
So it becomes difficult for the insurance company to accept the risk and issue a policy without proper risk assessment since there are no fresh medical reports.
Different insurers have different criteria Covid-affected people must meet to buy a term plan.
Different Parameters, Different Waiting Periods
For example, IndiaFirst Life Insurance mandates a 30-day waiting period if the person is home quarantined.
If they have comorbidities as well, a 60-day waiting period applies.
The waiting period goes up to 6 months for those severely affected and requiring hospitalisation.