Money & Banking

Strong winds of change set to sweep health insurance sector

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on January 06, 2021

2020 was a transformative year for health cover due to the Covid outbreak

Marked by innovation and digital push, 2021 will witness major winds of change in health cover, according to industry experts.

“The new trends seen last year will continue with new types of coverage such as the launch of more single disease products like ‘Covid-19 Benefit Policy’ or single disease critical illness etc,” Rakesh Jain, ED and CEO, Reliance General Insurance, told BusinessLine.

Apart from health due to the increasing number of catastrophic events, parametric cat policies (which pay at the occurrence of a triggering event rather than having to claim a specific insured property loss) may also find application for future viral outbreaks.

“The health insurance sector looks set for a full-scale makeover, which is a good sign, and one can be optimistic about the industry’s growth in the next few years due to these developments,” he added.

A game-changer

The Covid-19 outbreak and the requirements it generated can make the pandemic a game-changer for the industry, going forward. “Post Covid-19, I see excellent opportunities through service offerings such as e-pharmacy and telemedicine making way in 2021,” said Mayank Bathwal, CEO, Aditya Birla Health Insurance.

According to him, there will also be a paradigm shift in the functioning of the health insurance industry in the days to come. When it comes to servicing customers, one can expect more dependency on digital technologies such as Chatbots, AI-based voice assistants, and robust phone apps that provide essential information at the customers’ disposal.

More than anything, the entire industry is heading towards a more user-centric approach, and this is the approach that is likely to be the greatest strength of the industry in the years to come, feel experts.

In the last eight months, Covid had considerably changed lives globally; and in India, this not only includes the behaviour but also the business.

There has been an increase in the demand for health insurance by consumers as they have become more health-conscious. The increase in demand has been fuelled to a significant extent by the younger generation, say industry sources.

There has been a promising 30-40 per cent uptake in health insurance adoption across industry players.

However, there is still significant untapped potential. Citing a recent survey, Bathwal says insurance penetration in the country was 3.78 per cent in FY20, which is low compared to the global average of 7.23 per cent. Of this, the non-life segment only amounts to 0.97 per cent.

Standardisation

In this entire transformation, IRDAI has also played a pivotal role in standardising the exclusion of health insurance policy to eradicate the confusion among insured in different policies.

The basic standard health cover product, Aarogya Sanjeevani, has made a mark in 2020. The standard health cover policy has been offered by general and health insurers for a sum between ₹1 and ₹5 lakh from April 2020. Going forward, Arogya Sanjeevani can provide a further boost to the health insurance portfolio.

The regulator also rose to the occasion by introducing standard Covid-19 basic products, Corona Kavach and Karona Rakshak, to be offered by non-life and life insurers mandatorily for a period of nine-and-a-half months.

Digital push

The lockdown in 2020 also taught the insurance sector that still there is huge scope for insurers to invest in technology.

Digital claims settlement process has reduced the turnaround time for claims settlement. Digitalisation in the insurance sector is resulting in reduced costs, lower error rates and increased customer satisfaction.

Published on January 05, 2021

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