Switch to health insurer of your choice without losing cover of existing company

Health Insurances 194 views

One must be keeping a close eye on the covers and extent of coverage against critical illness while buying health insurance policy from an insurer. The critical illness covers generally include cancer and first heart attack of specified severity, failure of kidney, transplantation of major organs, permanent paralysis of limbs, motor neuron disease with severe symptoms, etc. You can choose from a list of insurers to buy a suitable health insurance policy that would meet your requirements. Top health insurers in India are Apollo Munich, Bajaj Allianz, ICICI Lombard, United India Assurance, National Assurance, among others.

After choosing an option, you kept paying premium for couple of years. During that time, a policy of another insurer had come and made you to buy it. But you didn't do thinking that you could lose the benefits of existing policy by switching to a new insurer. And you kept receiving sub-standard service from the existing insurer. You did the right thing as earlier switching of health insurers mean that you had to go through the required waiting period of 1-4 years for the coverage of pre-existing diseases. But now, the portability of health insurance is brought into the market by the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDAI), previously known as IRDA,  the sector regulator. As per the directive issued by the IRDAI, a health insurance subscriber can port to the insurer of his/her choice. The IRDAI has stipulated that your new health insurer will allow for credit gained by the insured for pre-existing diseases or conditions with respect to waiting period. This not only applies to switching between the insurers but also the plans with the existing insurer. Without much ado, know what is allowed, the steps for portability, things to keep in mind while switching, etc.

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Features & Benefits

  • You can switch the policy from your existing health insurer to any general insurance or specialised health insurance provider.
  • Portability of individual and family policies is allowed.
  • The new insurer will have to give you the credit with respect to the waiting period for any pre-existing diseases or conditions that you have had with the previous insurer.
  • If you were a subscriber of group mediclaim, then you can also switch to either an individual health insurance plan or a family floater one provided you stay with the same insurer for a minimum of 1 year. Salaried professionals and their families, who do not have any health plan apart from the mediclaim provided by their employers, can take advantage of this feature and will come to better use when they switch jobs.
  • You can get insured upto the sum assured under the previous policy.

Steps Required for Portability

  • You first need to apply to the new health insurer 45 days before the renewal of your existing policy.
  • After receiving the application, the new insurer will give you a portability form. Fill in the form and submit the same along with the proposal form.
  • Within 7 days or receiving the forms, the new health insurer will ask the existing one to share details like your claim history and other medical related stuffs.
  • The existing health insurance company will then provide relevant information through the IRDAI portal in the format prescribed by the regulator with respect to switching of insurance policies
  • The new health insurer prepares the proposal based on its underwriting policy after gaining the information
  • The new insurer will then give its proposal within 15 days. if it doesn't do so in the given time frame even after getting the entire information regarding you, the new insurer will be bound to give a nod to your application.
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However, If you fail to get any proposal from the new health insurance company till the date of renewal of your existing policy, you can extend it by making payment of pro rata premium to your current insurer for a short period to prevent your policy from getting cancelled.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • While switching, you should check whether the policy cover provided by the new health insurer equals or more with the old one or not.
  • Choose a health insurer that provides a wide range of covers in less incremental slabs. For example- If you are switching from an insurer who is offering you a cover of say Rs 5 lacs, and the new insurance company does not offer the cover below Rs 6 lacs, then it could lead to payment of higher premium.
  • Switching can be a loss if you have accumulated no-claim bonus (NCB). Even though NCB is transferable to the new policy, the calculation of the premium will be made on the enhanced cover. For example- If the premium with the existing insurer for a Rs 2 lakh health plan is Rs 2,000. You have made a single claim in the last 5 years and the cover has now gone upto Rs 2.6 lacs, but the premium you pay is Rs 2,000. But upon switching, the cover will remain Rs 2.6 lacs and the premium will go upto Rs 2,600. So, you will miss out on benefitting from the discounted premium that comes with NCB.
  • The porting must conform to the time frames stipulated in the regulations and guidelines of IRDAI.
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Now, you have got the requisite information to take a call on switching of health insurance policies. Evaluate health insurers and products not only on cost but also on features that could meet your existing and future requirements in accordance with the inflation.

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