Health Insurance

Being Indian not a prerequisite to buy health insurance in India

Published in Mint on 9th January, 2018. Written by Abhishek Bondia

Is there a requirement that those insured in a health policy should be Indian citizens? My minor daughter was born in the US and she now lives in India. Can we include her in our family floater or will we have to buy her an individual policy?

—Kapil Joshi

Indian citizenship is not a prerequisite to buy health insurance in India. Foreign citizens can also buy health coverage in India. You can get your daughter covered either within your family floater insurance or buy a separate individual insurance for her.

Recently I read about cancer-specific plans. I already have mediclaim and critical illness policy that covers cancer. Is it advisable to buy a standalone cancer cover? In case of cancer diagnosis, can I claim lump sum assured from both plans?

—Rushabh Maru

If you already have a mediclaim and critical illness policy, you do not need a separate cancer specific plan. Mediclaim plan will reimburse hospitalization expenses. Critical illness plan would pay a lump sum on diagnosis of the ailment. Both the plans would work in tandem, and would be sufficient to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses.

In case you buy another fixed benefit cancer-specific plan, then you can claim from all three plans. In case the new plan is an indemnity plan, then you can either use the standard mediclaim or the cancer-specific plan. If the claim amount crosses the sum assured of any of the plans, the deficit can be claimed from the other plan.

I was in my ancestral place a few months ago, where I saw an old Bentley lying in disused condition. I contacted a mechanic who has worked on vintage cars earlier, and he was able to make it run on the road. I want to bring it back with me. What is the procedure for getting vintage cars insured? Is there a procedure or everything depends on the decision of the insurance personnel who come to inspect the car?

—Rishabh Ansal

You can get a vintage car insured on the basis of ‘agreed value’. This value is arrived at jointly between the insured and the insurer. You can compare the valuation offered by a few insurers to assess the one that best matches your own assessment.

Do note that only cars manufactured prior to 31 December 1940, and duly certified by the Vintage and Classic Car Club of India, can be considered vintage by insurers.

My father drives a mid-sized sedan, which he is very fond of. However, living in Delhi, it gets scratched and bumped very often. And it is in a garage every month or so for repairs, costing Rs3,000 to Rs4,000 per visit. Can you tell me if it is allowed and preferable to claim even small repairs from the motor insurance policy, or not?

—Janaki Sharma

There are generally no limits on the number of times you can make a claim in motor insurance policies. Specifically, some add-ons may have restrictions. For example, some insurers do not allow more than three claims under ‘zero depreciation’ add-on cover. In case you claim more frequently, depreciation would be deducted.

I don’t recommend making several small claims a year. In case the ‘zero depreciation’ cover is not available in your policy, the final admissible amount for small repairs would be significantly lower than the actual claim amount. Moreover, there is a minimum deductible that lowers the admissible amount even further. A high claim frequency discourages insurers to offer competitive rates at renewal time. The higher cash outgo on renewal premium may offset the claim amount received from the insurer.

In some situations, the loss of no-claim bonus on renewal may be higher than a small claim. In such cases, one should weigh the trade-off before making a claim.

Why should I buy a personal accident insurance plan, when I already have a health insurance policy? Does the health insurance policy not cover accidental hospitalization expenses? Is the personal accident policy then more similar to a life insurance plan?

—Name withheld on request

A standard health insurance plan covers hospitalization expenses arising out of an accident. However, a personal accident plan has a broader coverage.

It would typically offer a fixed payout in case of an accidental death, or a permanent disability. In case of accidental death, the insurance pays the complete sum assured. In case of a permanent disability, policy pays varying level of sum assured based on the nature of disability.

In the case of Total Permanent Disability, policy would pay the complete sum assured. Several personal accident policies have add-ons for temporary total disability and medical expenses.

Temporary total disability add-on pays a fixed weekly allowance in case the person is temporarily immobile due to an accident.

This helps compensate for loss of income during this period. The medical expenses add-on reimburses even OPD expenses linked to accident such as a fracture.

A personal accident plan and a basic life insurance plan has some overlap. Both plans pay the sum assured in case of accidental death.