What is Grace Period in Health Insurance Plans?

Most health insurance plans come with a grace period. Your health insurance grace period is the extra time that you are given in case you miss your policy renewal premium due date. Failure to make the payment in the grace period can lead to your mediclaim policy cancellation or penalties.

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    How Does Grace Period in Health Insurance Work?

    Grace period provides you with a fair chance to pay your health insurance policy premium in case you are not able to make the payment due to some circumstances. Most insurance companies offer a grace period of 15 days for the payment of medical insurance renewal premiums. But, there are also some companies that offer a grace period of 30 days.

    The duration of the grace period can vary depending on the insurance company and the type of mediclaim policy that you buy. Moreover, it is not necessary for every health insurance company to provide the benefit of a grace period. For instance, insurance company A’s grace period might differ from that of company B. It can even be the same. Therefore, you would need to check either with your insurance company or go through your policy wordings to see if there is a grace period available and for what duration.

    Is Grace Period and Waiting Period in Health Insurance the Same?

    No, your health insurance grace period is different from your insurance waiting period. In case of the waiting period, you need to wait for a fixed duration before you can file a health insurance claim. On the other hand, the grace period gives you an extra number of days to pay your health insurance renewal premium even after your due date has passed.

    For instance, if your mediclaim policy renewal premium is due on 1st January 2022 and you can pay your premium until 31st January 2022 in case of a 30-day grace period. If you fail to make the payment, then your policy will get lapsed and your insurer can deny your renewal request even if you want to make the payment later.

    Disadvantages of Not Renewing Your Health Insurance Policy on Time

    To enjoy uninterrupted health insurance coverage benefits, make sure that you do not delay your policy renewal. Do not wait for the grace period, instead, renew your policy before that. This is because renewing your policy during the grace period has its own disadvantages. Below are some of the drawbacks of not renewing your health insurance policy on time:

    • No Coverage Available in the Grace Period – Insurance companies offer insurance protection in exchange for the premium amount. If you have not paid your policy premium on time, your insurance provider will not be liable to provide coverage to you. Thus, you will not be able to avail coverage benefits or file a claim during the grace period.
    • Renewal Can Be Denied– The insurance company can choose not to renew your health insurance policy after your policy has lapsed. This may force you to buy a new health plan, which may not only come for a higher premium but also lead to the loss of accumulated coverage benefits, such as no claim bonus, until renewal.
    • Restart of Waiting Periods– If your health policy lapses, the waiting period for any health condition or specific illness and other continuity benefits will be lost. Your waiting period will restart from scratch if you buy a new policy. 
    • Wait More for Pre-existing Diseases Coverage– If you buy a new health insurance policy after your policy lapse, you will have to wait longer to file a claim for pre-existing diseases. As a new customer, you will have to wait out the pre-existing diseases waiting period. Only after the completion of the waiting period as per the new policy, your pre-existing diseases will be covered.

    Premium Payment During the Grace Period

    In case you have missed your premium due date and are going to pay during the grace period, some health insurance companies may charge you a late fee. In cases where policyholders frequently miss their policy renewal dates, the insurance companies may charge them a higher premium on renewal.

    Failure to Pay the Premium within the Grace Period

    If you fail to pay your health insurance premium amount within the grace period, your policy may be cancelled for non-payment. In that case, you won't be able to avail coverage benefits if there is any health emergency or hospitalization.

    However, you can buy a health policy from another insurance company. In the worst-case scenario, you may also be refused coverage from other insurers based on your past records of missing policy deadlines. If your policy has lapsed, some health insurance companies would need you to undergo pre-medical screening before issuing the mediclaim policy. This puts you at a greater risk of the coverage being denied or being charged a higher premium for a new policy.

    How Grace Periods Can Affect Your Claims?

    Health insurance companies offer premium payment extensions with a grace period to ensure that your health coverage remains intact even if you pay late. You can still file a claim in case of any health emergency. In absence of a grace period or upon missing your renewal date, your insurance company can deny you coverage for late payment and you won’t be able to file any claim even if you make the payment the next day.

    For instance, suppose you missed paying your health insurance premium on time and also your grace period. In case a health emergency arises at this time that requires hospitalization and expensive treatment, you will not get coverage as your health insurance provider would have cancelled your policy for non-payment. Not only that, the insurance company will refuse coverage until the treatment is over. In that case, the only option that you will have is to buy a health insurance policy at an exorbitant premium and starting over with new terms & conditions and waiting periods.  

    With the above example, you can see how a late premium payment and failure to renew your policy during the grace period can cause inconvenience and can also cost you a bomb. So, make sure that you renew your mediclaim policy on time if you do not want to put your coverage at risk. Even if there is a grace period, do not delay the payment until there is an emergency.

    In a Nutshell

    So the next time, make sure to pay your health insurance policy renewal premium on time to enjoy continuous coverage benefits. With an increase in age, your health issues also increase. If you have any pre-existing conditions, buying a new health plan will not be easy and you will have to start the waiting period all over again.

    Written By: PolicyBazaar - Updated: 03 September 2021

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