Avanti Kumar, 48, had a health insurance policy with a public sector general insurance company. While renewing the policy in October 2012, she had to pay about 50% more — rather than Rs. 15,000, she had to pay Rs. 22,000. The reason: the company had hiked the premium or added a load as she had made a claim for hospitalisation in the previous year.
Things could well change now, and there could be some good news for consumers. With competition intensifying in the health insurance sector, and the option to switch to another provider, insurers are now trying to woo new customers even while retaining old ones. While most companies still charge a load while renewing their policy, a few companies such as Max Bupa, Apollo Munich and Reliance General Insurance have decided not to charge a load on premium while renewing the policies, even if claims had been made. Loading — which could range anywhere between 15% to 150% — is the hike in health insurance premium at the time of renewal.
“Our products have no loading and this is to ensure customer satisfaction, this facility is prevalent for all age groups,” said Rakesh Jain, CEO, Reliance General Insurance.
“We want people to take care of their health and use their insurance when they need to, therefore we do not load on premiums basis customer's claims history. We offer all our customers assured renewability for life, irrespective of their claims history,” said Manasije Mishra, CEO Max Bupa.
Health insurance market in India is expected to grow five times to cover 10% of the population by 2015, according to a study conducted by economic consulting firm Nathan India.
The study also found that the industry would grow from $1.6 billion in 2010 to $7.6 billion in 2015.