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Health insurance portability allows policyholders to port their insurance policy from one insurer to another. While portability may seem to be a better option for those looking for a high-level of service and benefits, here are a few factors you should keep in mind when porting your insurance policy:
- Medical history:- The new insurer can reject your portability request if you have a pre-existing disease or a health problem that requires frequent hospital visits. Usually, insurers ask applicants to undergo medical tests if their age is above 45 years. If medical reports show such conditions as diabetes and high blood pressure, the new insurer can reject the application. Those with a history of heart problem or renal failure, where recurrent costs are high, also seem to fall in this group.
- Waiting period:- There are three types of waiting periods in health insurance. The first one is 30 days for fresh policies. The second is for diseases that are covered after a period of 1 or 2 years, such as kidney stones and appendicitis. The third waiting period is of 4 years for pre-existing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. For instance, if you want to port a three-year old policy (after completing 2 years) to a new insurer having the same waiting periods, then waiting periods of duration 30 days and 2 years won’t apply. Only the 4-year waiting period will be applicable. Since you already completed 3 years in the previous policy, you will have to wait for 1 year to file claims for pre-existing conditions.
- Increase in sum insured:- Applying for a very high increase in sum insured at the time of portability can alarm your new insurer. Usually, people look to raise their cover when they have made a claim in the past. As a result, to the new insurer it might mean that the applicant may file for bigger claims in the next one or two years.
Also, for any increase in the sum insured, the entire waiting period has to be served. Let’s say, you have been continuously renewing your health insurance policy, originally of sum insured Rs 4 lakhs, for the last three years. Now, at Rs 5 lakhs, you want to port it to another insurer. In this case, the portable sum insured will be only Rs 4 lakhs, whereas the total available sum insured will be Rs 5 lakhs. Further, if you are hospitalized for pre-existing illness during the waiting period of the new policy, you’ll be entitled to coverage up to Rs 4 lakhs only. The additional Rs 1 lakh will be available after you’ve spent the waiting period with the new insurer.
- Age matters:- As health deteriorates with age, most insurers are reluctant to approve portability applications of senior citizens. Further, insurers who do accept, tend to charge high loading costs along with a co-payment clause.
- Premium:- Most of the people wish to port the policy because of low premiums. However, to fulfill this need, many a times, insurers reduce the coverage. As a result, in the long run, you end up paying more to cover your needs. So, before jumping the ship, check the premium vis-à-vis coverage.
- Technical snags:- Filling the portability application with wrong or incorrect information and non-availability of previous policy documents are some of the issues that can lead to rejection of your portability application. According to IRDAI guidelines, a portability request should be made at least 45 days before the date of renewal of current policy. If there is a delay, the new insurer can refuse to accept your application. Therefore, it is important that you initiate the process well in advance, say about 90 days to be on a safer side.
If you are below the age of 45 and have a clean claim history, port your health insurance policy to maximize your benefits. For those who belong to the higher age bracket and have health problems, should stick to their existing plan and ask the current insurer to increase the cover, if possible.
Also Read: Benefits of Health Insurance Portability
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