You can now officially bid goodbye to the days when you had to continue with your health insurance plan for the sake of accumulated benefits and time-bound coverage. With the new portability regulation in place, if you experience a gap between what is promised and what is delivered by your insurance company in terms of service or benefits, you can choose to move out and opt for a similar plan with any other insurer of your choice, while protecting the accumulated benefits of the existing health insurance policy.
The change is expected to bring in minimum service requirements amongst all insurance players, which, in turn, will have a positive impact on customer service. New benchmarks in terms of service standards and delivery mechanisms for the insurance players are expected to come into existence.
While portability may seem like an ideal choice for all those who are looking for a superior level of service and benefits, many factors must be considered before one takes the decision to port. Here are a few facets that should be kept in mind while making the choice to switch an insurer.
Regular Features: Does your health insurance policy cover both hospitalisation and day-care procedures and without any sub-limits? If not, look around and find one that offers all these benefits. Do remember that all the policies are different and are governed by their underwriting principles. Hence, you should choose the one you deem fit.
Age limit for renewal: Does your current policy have an age limit for renewal? If there is a cut-off age, then look for an insurer who offers life-long renewal. This is crucial to ensure health insurance coverage when you need it the most, as during old age, health deteriorates.
Claims-led rise in premium: Does your insurance company load your future premiums in case you make a claim in the current year? You can search for insurance companies that do not place additional loading on premiums for claimed years.
Room rent limits, co-payments and sub-limits on treatments: Some insurance companies have daily limits on hospital room rents, while others offer sub-limits. You can choose to port to an insurance company that does not make any restrictions on the type of room customers choose.
Cashless or reimbursement: What is your mode of payment and collection of medical expenses currently? Do you have to pay first and then submit bills or are you able to avail of cashless facilities? With age, ailments and concerns also rise.
You may choose to opt for a cashless policy that will free your mind of payments, at the time of a medical emergency.
Increasing coverage without restriction: In addition to life-long renewal, does your current policy allow for an increase in coverage with progressing age? With medical inflation rising consistently, your current medical cover may be insufficient in the future, when you are likely to require a higher cover. Your plan should allow an increase in cover without any new conditions or restrictions.
Network of hospitals, doctors: Have you faced problems in getting cashless claims or too much time was taken to close on a decision? In case it's a yes, then review your current insurance company's network and compare it with other insurers who have larger and widespread coverage. At the time of emergency, it is important to rush to the nearest hospital, rather than looking for a hospital which is covered by your insurer.
So if you have made up your mind to change your insurer, the first step should be to fill up and submit the proposal form of the insurer of your choice, along with the standardised portability form. On receiving a request for portability, the incumbent insurer will underwrite as per their guidelines and will inform you on the final decision within a stipulated time frame. It is advisable to start the process at least 45 days before your premium is due in order to take an informed decision and hedge the risk of a break in coverage at any point in time.
And a final piece of advice: do not choose to port to a lower premium cover, as you may lose your benefits and features previously enjoyed!
The writer is the CEO of Apollo Munich Health Insurance