COVID-19-specific health policies to get longer run

IRDAI permits their renewal, migration and portability

Insurance regulator IRDAI has allowed renewal, migration and portability of standard COVID-19 specific health policies Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak.

Giving insurers, and by extension policyholders, the choice to renew, migrate and port the policies, the regulator said Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak of any tenure can be renewed for further terms of 3.5 months, 6.5 months or 9.5 months. The policies can be renewed till March 31 and the renewal has to be done before expiry of the existing contract for ensuring coverage is continued seamlessly. The regulator also advised insurers against imposing additional waiting period of 15 days on renewal.

At the time of renewal, policyholders can change the sum insured, but there will be a waiting period for the enhanced portion.

IRDAI said insurers can migrate Corona Kavach individual policies to any other indemnity based health insurance product as desired by the policyholder. In case of Corona Kavach Group policies, it gave insurers a choice to provide migration to any other individual indemnity based health policy at the point of exit from the group policy or cessation of coverage of the underlying group policy.

The waiting period served in the existing Corona Kavach policy (individual/group) has to be protected in respect of coverage for COVID-19 in the migrated policy by the insurers, the regulator said in a circular.

The regulator also said general and health Insurers are permitted to allow portability of Corona Kavach (individual) policy from one insurer to another.

The decision of the IRDAI is not completely unexpected as its senior officials had hinted at such a move in the wake of the raging pandemic and initial popularity of the product. In a little over month of the launch, on July 10, around 7.5 lakh Corona Kavach policies were sold, about 12.86 lakh people covered and ₹215 crore premium was collected, IRDAI Member (Non-Life) T. L. Alamelu had told a meeting.

Gurdeep Singh Batra, head, Retail Underwriting at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance said the norms on renewal, portability and migration of the COVID-19 specific policies were “a welcome move as the COVID-19 vaccine is yet to come out.”

“With this development, as insurers we will work towards safeguarding policyholders against the COVID-19 health risks. However, at the same time we would prefer that such insuring population eventually opts for comprehensive health insurance policies,” he said.

Health Business Head of Amit Chhabra said with the norms, those who were not able to buy a plan with a higher sum insured initially can now enhance the sum insured in case they feel the treatment cost might go up.

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