The novel Coronavirus or the COVID-19 outbreak is now slowly taking serious proportions in India. With more than 100 people currently affected, and two casualties, many states have announced partial lockdowns. Educational institutions, malls, pubs, gyms, parks, tourist places, and theatres have been forced to shut down. The government has banned incoming travelers from many affected countries and also issued travel advisories curbing Indians traveling to few countries.
Incoming travelers from a few other countries are being kept in a compulsory 14-day quarantine. Private firms have been asked to provide work from home to their employees to the extent possible. Weddings have to be postponed or done with minimal and all other major gatherings also have been banned. All these are major measures that have been announced in a bid to contain the virus and to avoid the community spread of the disease. Even fully developed countries like the US and Italy are struggling to cope with the pandemic, and in such times, all of us citizens need to appreciate and cooperate with the measures taken by our state and central governments.
Suddenly, it does appear as if contracting the Corona may be a possibility, in the worst-case scenario. We may be isolated or quarantined also if we inadvertently come into contact with any affected person or their contacts. So, the question on everyone’s mind now is whether the health insurance that they have will cover the medical costs and probable hospitalization, due to the Corona.
Corona is a new virus, and hence, the doubt is a valid one, as perhaps it was not mentioned in the policy when it was taken. But, with the possibilities of this blowing up looking a little real, it is good to know where you stand concerning your health insurance. Since many people started wondering about this, the IRDA, the insurance regulator in India, has proactively come up with guidelines specific to Corona, in a circular dated 4th March 2020.
The important clauses mentioned in the said circular state:
- Where hospitalization is covered in a product, insurers shall ensure that the cases related to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) shall be expeditiously handled.
- The costs of admissible medical expenses during the course of treatment including the treatment during the quarantine period shall be settled in accordance with the applicable terms and conditions of policy contract and the extant regulatory framework.
- All the claims reported under COVID 19 shall be thoroughly reviewed by the claims review committee before repudiating the claims.
These three clauses are meant to protect the health insurance policy holder’s interest in the worst-case scenario of a hospitalization related to Corona. Following the guidelines, many insurance companies have proactively reached out to their customers and clarified their stand. For example, Max Bupa Health Insurance, SBI General Insurance, Edelweiss General Insurance, and Aditya Birla Health Insurance have all been quoted as saying their policies cover the same, as per newspaper reports.
What you should do?
Here is what you could do for understanding your health insurance policy’s Coronavirus coverage:
1. Check is there is already a Corona specific communication from your health insurance provider. It could be an SMS or email which you might have overlooked for being just another marketing mail. Check your spam folders as well.
2. If you have not received any such communication, call the customer care helpline of the health insurance policy provider and ask for clarifications. You could also visit their website and check for any updates in their FAQ section or even write to them.
3. If you have taken the policy through any agency/agent, you could check with them to clarify the Coronavirus coverage as well. You may quote the above IRDA circular if needed.
It is always good to know beforehand, and forearmed is forewarned. There is no need to panic, and one needs to follow all precautions being advocated by the government. Kindly do not believe every forward received on WhatsApp, as a lot of fake news is going around. Only go with official government sources for the news on the Coronavirus. Bulleting regarding this is being released by the health ministry and almost all the government ministers and officials are putting this information in the public domain. The idea to maintain social distancing, go out only for essential things, follow hand washing and hygienic practices, and avoid travel, especially abroad, unless absolutely essential.