India’s insurers are braced to expect a raft of claims as Coronvirus sweeps across the country, and the regulator IRDAI insists that healthcare and hospital claims WILL be met for all COVID-19 sufferers.
At present there are relatively few Corona cases amongst India’s billion plus population. However, despite restictions on movement and business closures, the virus will inevitably spread.
Where hospitalisation is covered in a product, insurers shall ensure that the cases related to coronvirus disease shall be expeditiously handled,” said IRDAI earlier in March.
The ruling could mean that Indian insurance companies face thousands of claims from people unable to work as they’re in hospital, and with no benefits system comparable to the EU or the UK, many families will be desperately trying to make a claim. It is a fresh challenge for the companies which have invested in Indian insurance companies in the last few years, after the relaxation of rules on corporate ownership shares.
As well settling claims promptly, IRDAI also wants insurers to allow a month’s grace on collecting premiums, and extend `break in cover’ policy renewal rules, as the lockdown continues and consumers obviously miss making payments. Across India much life and health cover is still sold via agents, who physically collect cash rather like the old days of Prudential in the UK.
Here’s the advice from IRDAI;
IRDAI has permitted the following relaxations:
1. In case of life insurance policies, there is a grace period for payment of renewal premiums. Insurers have been asked to enhance the grace period by an additional 30 days if desired by the policyholders.
2, In case of health insurance policies, the insurers may condone delay in renewal up to 30 days without deeming such condonation as a break in policy. However, insurers are requested to contact the policyholders well in advance so as not to have a discontinuance in coverage.
3. In case of board meetings of insurers, the meetings due till 30 June 2020 may be held through video conferencing or other audiovisual means.
4. In case of submission of monthly returns for the month of March 2020 by insurers and insurance intermediaries, an additional time of 15 days will be allowed. Similarly, for quarterly returns, an additional period of up to one month will be permitted.
The IRDAI appeals to all the insurers, insurance intermediaries and distribution channels to be sensitive to the needs of the policyholders in these trying times, while policyholders are urged to cooperate.