The insurance industry has always experienced a change in some form or the other. While the industry is very dynamic, because of the constant changes in trends and consumer demands, the level of shift brought about by Covid-19 is unimaginable.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), in a regular scenario, would pick up consumer needs and implement changes in insurance plans to make them more consumer-friendly. However, in the ongoing trying times, as COVID numbers are going through the roof-top, the IRDAI is trying its level best to implement several consumer-friendly changes across the insurance industry.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have created havoc in people’s lives, it has also been the reason behind some of the major changes seen across the health insurance industry. These have mostly worked in favour of the general public. For instance, the health insurance plans designed for coronavirus have made the medical expenses rising from Covid-19 disease affordable for people.
Now more than before, anyone can easily buy Corona Rakshak policy, Corona Kavach policy or other such health plans online without the necessity of physical signatures. One can also make premiums payments via instalments online. The expectation is that these changes will help in having a wider reach of health insurance across India.
Here are the Top 6 changes in Corona times that you should know about:
1.Fast-Tracked Claim Decisions
As per the latest health insurance guidelines circulated by the IRDA, insurance providers are now required to decide on claim requests within as little as 30 days. While this may not be a direct impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is surely a major shift in the insurance industry. Health insurance providers are now required to either approve or reject claims in a timeline of 30 days from receipt of any claim request. In case of failure to do so, they will be charged a 2% interest on the claim amount, as per applicable bank rate. This guideline has been effective since 1st October 2020.
2. Introduction of COVID-specific Health Plans
Health insurance is the need of the hour. Ever since Covid-19 pandemic struck, thousands of people have been increasingly getting hospitalised. Although regular health plans covered COVID, the high cost of consumables required in COVID treatments are not included.
This is why IRDAI mandated all health insurers to come up with COVID-specific health plans. As a result, Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak were launched. These plans primarily cover COVID and cater to the short-term coverage requirements of individuals that may come up as a result of the pandemic.
3. Boost to Telemedicine
Telemedicine had been a novice concept in India but due to COVID, the concept came to the forefront primarily due to lockdown and social distancing norms. Telemedicine covers offsite medical consultations that are carried out through telephones, video conferences, online consultations, etc.
As telemedicine started becoming popular in the current scenario, IRDAI directed insurers to offer cover for medical costs arising from telemedicine, specifically for health plans that cover doctor’s consultations. Thus, health plans have now become far more inclusive since these offer cover for telemedicine costs.
4. Increase in Online Insurance Purchases
IRDAI also directed insurance companies to focus on their online sales and allow policyholders to buy policies online without venturing out of their homes. Thus, a greater number of insurance plans are now available online and consumers are finding it easy to buy them. The KYC verification is also being done online as companies are making use of video calls and image uploads for document verification purposes.
5. No Requirement of Physical Signatures
Another change that is seen in the life insurance segment is the removal of physical signatures on forms. Now, one can buy insurance plans through online proposals that are verified by mails or OTPs instead of the physical signature of the buyer. This greatly helps in complying with social distancing norms and allows individuals to safely buy life insurance from the convenience of their homes.
6. Introduction of Instalment Payment
COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on people’s financial situation. The IRDAI has started focusing on making health insurance premiums more affordable by offering an instalment payment option. Health insurance plans now allow individuals to make premium payments through easy instalments instead of a lump sum. Individuals can easily purchase a comprehensive health insurance plan that offers a reasonable sum insured. These changes have heightened the popularity of health insurance and allowed it to cover a larger population size.
The immediate concern in front of insurers is to protect the health of employees and various distribution partners across the agent community since they work towards business continuity. Insurers are now challenged to review and revisit their crisis management system and take necessary steps to ensure continuity of operations with minimum impact on clients.
The changes brought about by Covid-19 are having a positive impact on policyholders. Insurance plans have become more attractive, gained a customer-friendly approach and are easy on the consumer’s pockets.
Change is the only constant and this has always proved to be true for the insurance industry. The industry goes through changes as new trends come in and old ones phase-out. A lot of it is driven by consumer demand.
The spread of Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a multitude of changes for everyone across the world. It has had a micro-level impact along with affecting various countries at a macro-level. Industries are now facing various challenges that never existed before or were even imagined. The insurance industry is one such affected area that has seen drastic changes within a matter of a few months. The pandemic has posed umpteen immediate challenges in front of the insurance industry and also raised many long-tail questions.