Money & Banking

Demand for maternity cover on the rise

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 03, 2017

BL04_Pregnancy

But there aren’t many products available in the market

Health insurance companies have been offering maternity cover as a bundled product or as an optional add-on, primarily on a group platform.

However, current trend suggests rising demand for tailor-made retail products with adequate cover for the newborn.

According to industry experts, more and more women are planning a child at a much later age leading to a rise in high-risk pregnancies. The costs of pregnancy have, therefore, risen due to the need for regular visits to the gynaecologist, extra nutritional medication, high incidence of caesarean section deliveries, and treatment at super-speciality hospitals.

“Given the increased cost, buying maternity cover comes as a convenient and attractive option,” said Anurag Rastogi, Head - Retail Underwriting & Claims, HDFC ERGO General Insurance.

A newborn should ideally be given insurance cover from day one, said Dr S Prakash, COO, Star Health and Allied Insurance, explaining the need to widen the ambit of such coverage. “When we do not ply a new vehicle on the road without insurance, is it right to bring a life into this world without insurance?” he asked.

Demand-supply gap

Policybazaar.com, the online portal for comparing various financial products, has seen traction in the number of enquiries for such products. However, at present not many products are available in the market to match the strong demand.

“Several health insurers are exploring the possibility of introducing products for this segment. We might see some launches happening in the next 6-10 months,” said Dhruv Sarin, Head of Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com.

Insurers are looking at tapping this segment with products that offer higher sub-limits and wider covers.

Apollo Munich Health Insurance, which currently offers this as a bundled product on a group platform, is exploring the possibility of launching a product with comprehensive coverage for the mother and the newborn on the retail platform.

With a greater percentage of women getting married late, “a comprehensive cover that not only focuses on maternity and child care but also includes infertility is the need of the hour,” said Antony Jacob, CEO, Apollo Munich.

Higher premiums

According to Jyoti Punja, Deputy CEO, Cigna TTK, generally maternity and newborn coverage has a waiting period of four years.

“In some plans, this can be reduced with waiver of waiting period up to two years by paying additional premium. There are also some specific maternity insurance plans with lower waiting period available in the market,” he said.

Since maternity benefit plans have 100 per cent utilisation ratio, they are more expensive than other insurance plans. To keep it viable, insurers set a certain waiting period, exclusions and limit on the maternity benefit.

Insurers also offer value-added services, including vaccination, parental guidance or congenital cover to the newborn, Rastogi said.

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Published on August 03, 2017
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