The pandemic has brought about many changes for the better in the way policyholders experience a health insurance product. Here’s enlisting them.

Scope expanded

Over the years, the scope of health insurance has grown to be more inclusive and comprehensive. For example, pre-existing diseases are clearly defined, and mental health is covered by all products. The health policies are now structured in a manner where there is an option to cover pre-existing illnesses right from day one.

After the Covid outbreak, based on the changing needs and consumer behaviour, health insurance has also been redesigned to include domiciliary or homecare treatment and in some policies, OPD (Outpatient Department) related expenses. Further, a comprehensive set of day-care procedures and expenses incurred other than hospitalization are also covered.

Simpler claims settlement

The entire process and purpose of buying an insurance policy ultimately boils down to the moment of truth - the time of claim settlement. The regulations from IRDAI in light of the pandemic have been an enabler for easier, faster and better claim settlement experience for customers. The regulations also direct insurers to pay interest for delayed claim settlement. The time spent in the tedious process and paperwork involved in claims processing has now been brought down to as low as 30 minutes with the assistance provided by InsurTechs. This is a huge step forward in addressing the main pain point of customers.

Affordability even for higher covers

While insurance provides affordability of healthcare coverage, it is equally important that the insurance also remains affordable enough for consumers to buy. Even though there has been a considerable rise in medical inflation after Covid with bills ranging as high as Rs 80 lakh to 1 crore, there has been a negligible rise in insurance premiums.

Comprehensive health policies come at an affordable and reasonable price. One can even get a super top-up of ₹90 lakh on an existing policy of ₹10 lakh and get total coverage of ₹1 crore. These plans have found acceptance in tier II and III cities as well where insurance penetration is much lower than metros. Policies with small deductibles and co-pay also bring another option to increase affordability of health insurance.

Dialing up Digitization

Digitization is the driving force behind all industries today and Covid has only hastened this process. Insurance is no exception. IRDAI, insurers and InsurTechs have all come forward and taken digital initiatives to meet the needs of consumers. This has made the end-to-end process far more convenient and secure for the customer. Today, one can not only compare various policies and their features online, but they can also buy it completely digitally without physical paperwork. The issuance, signature and other formalities have all taken a digital turn.

In view of the pandemic, if the policyholder needed any assistance, mediums like chatbots or video and screen-sharing enabled interfaces began to be used more often, to provide contactless assistance effectively. Even the most crucial part of the process - claim settlement - can be filed, tracked and processed online. Further, a lesser-known aspect is that the authorities have also called for stricter norms to minimize cyber risks and crimes with respect to a sensitive product like insurance. There are now AI-enabled voice and behaviour analytics tools that minimize the risk of collusion and fraud and bring more transparency. Also, with the emergence of digital health lockers, all health records are safely maintained and recorded in one place, which further streamlines the process of health insurance.

The writer is CEO,