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How wellness benefits can help reduce your health insurance premium

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Health is wealth -- an adage you must have heard countless times. Today, let’s tell you a simple way to turn this into reality.

Preserving one’s fitness and immunity has always been important; of course, it has become all the more important in the past two years of the pandemic. Yet, fitness and immunity are not a guarantee of you never having to face a health emergency. To safeguard yourself against factors beyond your control, buying health insurance is a non-negotiable decision.

Your health insurance incentivises you to stay healthy. Do you know that maintaining your health can translate into actual wealth at the time of your health insurance renewal? With the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) guidelines on preventive and wellness features, insurers can incentivise policyholders who meet the wellness criteria by offering reward points or lowering their health insurance premiums at the time of renewal. This feature is a win-win for both parties. Let’s understand more about this in detail.

What are wellness benefits?

Wellness benefits are accrued or earned by a policyholder who stays fit and healthy during the policy year. The fitness criteria may differ from policy to policy. The parameter could be walking a certain number of steps, enrolling for a gym membership or taking a health assessment. These benefits are a monetary incentive to customers for taking better care of their health.
It could be in the form of a discounted premium, 100% premium waiver, a higher sum assured, vouchers or free services at the time of renewal. These benefits not only act as a motivation to be fitter and healthier but also incentivise the customer to opt for health insurance and to also renew their policy. These benefits can be a bundled part of the policy or an add-on feature as well.

Why these benefits came into existence?

IRDAI’s move to introduce these guidelines is part of a bigger agenda to promote healthy living. The government of India came up with the Fit India movement in 2019 to advocate a healthy lifestyle and help ease the burden on the country’s healthcare infrastructure. These benefits were also introduced a year later to help people inculcate and follow a healthy regime.

Essentially, more health issues translate into a larger number of claims that weigh heavily on the insurance industry, especially insurance companies that have to settle these claims. By making wellness benefits a part of the policy, the idea is to reduce the possibility of health issues and by extension, the number of claims. This also allows insurers to keep the cumulative pricing affordable for everyone and offer a wider range of policy benefits to the insured. So, it’s a mutually beneficial and rewarding deal for both the policyholder and the insurance company.

How do you redeem these benefits?

It has become extremely easy to earn these benefits now. All you need is a smartphone and apps to track your physical activity and fitness. Here are a few common ways of availing of these benefits -

App Monitoring: Lately, many insurers have collaborated with smart-wear companies to track daily activity levels, steps count, body mass index, etc. By linking the fitness device onto their platform, the insurers get a detailed health risk assessment of the policyholder. This information helps them to understand all aspects of a policyholder’s health and, in turn, offer discounts on renewal premiums to those leading a healthier life. In some plans, you can even get 100% off on premium at the time of renewal if your policy terms allow it. For example, Aditya Birla’s Activ Health Platinum Enhanced Insurance Plan waives the entire premium at the time of renewal if you attain your fitness goals.

Redeemable vouchers: To encourage the policyholder to stay fit and healthy, some insurance companies offer rewards against redeemable vouchers. These coupons provide benefits like membership in fitness clubs, discounts on health supplements, complementary zumba/yoga classes, and more.

Reward Points that incentivize healthy behaviour: By maintaining the criteria of your health insurance plan, the reward points can turn out to be a good cost-saving measure. Some health insurance companies collaborate with medical facilities and hospitals and thus, provide discounts or concessions on different medical check-up programmes, pharmacy bills, and so on.

Wellness coach: Some insurers also offer services like those of a wellness coach who guides policyholders to stay fit. These includes sharing with them a personalized diet chart, exercise routine, ceasing smoking habits, and reducing fat percentage while managing the right BMI. It also assists policyholders in maintaining a healthy and better lifestyle. Once the insurance holders achieve the target set for them, they are rewarded with points or other benefits that may later be redeemed or used for various health-related services.

So, if you are yet to start on those walks, jogs or a nutritious diet, do it right away. Don’t forget to discuss the policy terms with your insurer. Lastly, remember to opt for sufficient coverage and renew your health insurance on time.

(The author is head - health and travel insurance, Policybazaar.com?)

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