A general health plan or a mediclaim is used to cover medical expenses that may otherwise burn a deep hole in your pocket. But without relevant add-ons, these policies might not benefit someone with a critical illness. To provide such a service, there are insurance plans which cater to specific sets of grave diseases. A Critical illness insurance plan covers the expenses incurred during the treatment of critical illnesses like cancer, organ failure, blindness, deafness, loss of limbs etc.
Critical illness insurance policy comes into play when the policyholder is diagnosed with one of the policy-specified critical ailments.
But, if you already have a comprehensive health insurance plan, why to crowd your plate with a critical illness plan? Though your mediclaim would cover your doctor’s consultation fee and hospitalisation fees, it would fall short in covering the treatment expenses of a critical illness. This is where a critical illness cover helps as it takes care of the expenses pertaining to the critical disease.
Critical illness can also mean loss of income, partial or complete disability and a drastic change in one’s life. The financial expenses would go through the roof, which is why a critical illness insurance plan is a must. The premium for one is also less when compared to a general health insurance plan. For instance, if a plan ensures a sum of Rs. 10 lakhs as a pay-out, the premium amount might be around Rs. 12000. In case of a critical cover of the same sum insured, the premium amount would be only Rs. 3000.
Some of the critical illness insurance policy providers are Aegon life care, Bharti Axa, Tata AIG, Max BUPA health insurance etc.
It goes without saying that you must compare insurance plans before choosing one. The insurance market has a wide variety of insurance plans to offer and to add to the confusion, all the plans sound the more or less the same. By simply understanding the extent of cover these plans offer, we can pick the best policy for ourselves. Here are a few factors that must be kept in mind while choosing a critical illness insurance plan.
Generally, a critical illness plan can be availed in two ways. One way is to buy a stand-alone policy- a separate plan which does not have anything to do with your pre-existing general health plan. The second way is to pair your existing health or life insurance policy with a Critical Illness Rider.
A stand-alone policy is more flexible than an add-on as it offers a larger cover. An add-on’s insured sum limit is lesser than that of the parent policy (i.e. the health insurance or life insurance policy). It is unlikely for an insurer to offer you a larger rider cover against a smaller base cover. Naturally, a stand-alone critical illness plan has a higher premium than a critical illness add-on.
A detailed knowledge of the benefits offered and the add-ons that can be included in the plan will also help you choose wisely.
The premium of a health insurance policy gradually increases with age. It is so because people become more prone to critical illnesses and diseases as they age. Therefore, it is better to buy a health cover at a younger age.
While buying a critical illness plan, keep in mind the existing health or/and life insurance, and choose your cover in a way that no conflict of offered coverage occurs. Any contradiction or overlap in the benefits might cause confusions at the time of claim.
Certain insurance providers offer special plans for women and senior citizens. They are specially designed for them, keeping in mind their needs and requirements. For instance, Max BUPA health insurance offers a women-exclusive plan that covers critical illnesses like breast cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer. So, keep a lookout for such special policies before choosing a critical illness insurance plan.
Certain insurance providers have limited the insurance renewability age to 50. Once past that age, you will not be able to renew your plan. However, there are some companies that offer lifetime renewability.
Senior citizens should get a plan that covers a wide spectrum of diseases since their health plans have a lower sum insured and are costly too.
An insurance policy always comes with a catch. This is what you have to look out for. A detailed study of the inclusions and exclusions of the cover is a must.
This will help you understand the constraints and limitations of your policy. If you think an exclusion clause in the policy might lead to any problems in future, discuss with the same with your insurer or look for other insurance providers which offer cover for this exclusion. Check if it can be added as an add-on to the critical illness insurance plan.
After signing up for a policy, you may have to serve a waiting period as well. A few insurance providers have a waiting period of 2 to 3 years, which means they would not consider any claim request during this period. When two plans offer similar benefits but differ in terms of their respective waiting periods, you should go for the one with a lesser waiting period.
Take a note of the illnesses the plan covers. If the policy coverage omits even the basic critical illnesses like chronic heart disease or cancer, shuffle the deck. Most insurers offer a cover for up to 8 critical diseases, but there are certain policy providers that offer a cover for 20 or more critical illnesses. Max BUPA health insurance policy offers coverage against 20 diseases.
Consider your lifestyle and family history and choose a policy which would be able to safeguard you against unnecessary financial constraints arising out of health expenses.
Before choosing the policy, you should also check two things about the policy provider. First, check the claim settlement ratio. Don’t risk your investment with a policy provider whose claim settlement rate is sub-par. Doing so can put you in a sad situation where your claim would either be unreasonably delayed or refused altogether.
The next thing you have to make a note of is the process of filing the claim. If the claim request process seems too complicated and comes with unnecessary forms and procedures, it is wise to steer clear of that insurance provider.
In this fast moving unpredictable world, it is better to have a critical illness cover along with your health and life insurance plan. As we cannot predict the future, it is wise to be prepared for an unexpected mishap. With the wide range of options given to us by the insurance market, it is now easier to financially shield our future. Compare policies online, and choose a plan that would benefit you in the future.
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