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Cover that illness

business Updated: Apr 19, 2009 22:05 IST
Falaknaaz Syed
Falaknaaz Syed
Hindustan Times
Cover that illness

With the cost of healthcare rising 15 to 20 per cent annually, a sudden healthcare problem could erode all your accumulated wealth. In case of a critical illness, when the sickness is severe, people are even forced to sell off assets to meet treatment costs.

Since medical treatment cannot be deferred, it becomes unavoidable that you take a health insurance policy to protect your family and yourself against unforeseen circumstances.

Health insurance policies cover hospitalisation expenses when this is for a period not less than 24 hours. The hospitalisation could be due to an accident, surgery or an illness. All the 21 general insurance companies sell health insurance policies. Life insurance companies too sell health insurance covers, but these are basically hospital cash policies where the insured is paid a lumpsum in case s/he contracts an illness.

Entry & Renewable Age
While it is a must have, most non-life insurance companies have capped the entry age for a health cover at 55-60 years. These policies can however be renewed till one attains 70 to 80 years. Apollo DKV has a plan called Easy Health which is lifetime renewable.

How much cover should you buy?
Depending on your income, you can decide the amount of the cover. If you can afford the premium, each member of your family should have an individual health insurance policy rather than a family floater policy where the entire family is covered
under single sum insured.

In case it becomes costly for you to pay individual premia for all members, experts suggest that a family should at least have a family floater with sum-assured of Rs 1 lakh.

People in the lower middle class could buy a Rs 3 lakh family floater, and those in the middle class, a Rs 5 lakh family floater, they say, while affluent people should ideally go for individual health policies.

One should read the fine print, know the caps for various expenses such as room rent, doctor's fees, consumables and individual diseases, as well as exclusions. Also check if the policy has a co-payment.

"People can increase their sum insured through individual or floater top-ups which will save costs and maximise their sum insured," suggests Dr Sandeep Dadia, director and principal officer, Enam Insurance Brokers.

How does top-up policy work?
Top-ups are available for people who already have health insurance policy cover. If the cost of hospitalisation exceeds the sum insured in the existing policy, the top-up policy would address this excess, so that the insured does not have to spend from his pocket.

Currently, two non-life insurance companies — United India Insurance, Star Health and Allied Insurance — offer top-up covers. "A top cover of Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh will cost Rs 3,000 to Rs 7,000," says Dadia.

Accidents happen. Don’t let one surprise you. Secure your family and yourself against contingencies, take out a health insurance plan right away.