scorecardresearchNational Insurance Awareness Day: Evaluate a health plan well before buying

National Insurance Awareness Day: Evaluate a health plan well before buying one, says Ajay Shah of Care Health Insurance

Updated: 28 Jun 2023, 09:53 AM IST

In an interview with MintGenie, Shah said that consulting an insurance agent can give precise judgment of products available in the market, and the best-suited options as per your needs.

Ajay Shah, Head - Distribution, Care Health Insurance

Ajay Shah, Head - Distribution, Care Health Insurance

Launching campaigns for the public can be a great tool to raise awareness about insurance, says Ajay Shah, Head - Distribution, Care Health Insurance.

In an interview with MintGenie, Shah said while buying insurance, say health insurance, a careful examination of various factors is taken into consideration.

Edited Excerpts:

Q. Lack of awareness is a big issue that refrains more people from seeking the necessary insurance coverage. How do you think people can be educated about the importance of insurance?

Insurance awareness is a crucial step to help people understand its importance and encourage them to seek necessary coverage for themselves. Some of the ways in which we can achieve this are by adopting the following:

Programs on financial literacy: Integrating insurance education & overall financial literacy via workshops, courses, seminars, town hall meetings, etc. at workplaces, mass audience events, or even entertainment spaces. These could cover the basics of insurance, types of coverages, the need for insuring your & your family’s health, and the criticality of insurance in the financial planning process.

Public campaigns: Good marketing campaigns always have a lasting impact on people’s minds. They generate recall of key messaging and further induce word of mouth. Launching campaigns for the public can be a great tool to raise awareness about insurance, its product categories, and the industry as a whole.

Collaboration with educational institutions: Partnering with educational institutions like schools, colleges, and universities to incorporate insurance-related education in their curriculum can be another effective way to instil knowledge and interest in youth.

Insurance agents &brokers: Encouraging insurance agents & brokers to actively engage in educating their clients. They can provide personalized guidance, conduct seminars/ webinars & share educational material.

Q. The inability to gauge the importance of insurance is evident from the inadequate insurance coverage that many people seek. What's the best way to decide on the coverage?

Appropriate insurance coverage requires careful consideration of various factors-

Need assessment: Careful consideration of your & your family’s health & overall well-being, finances, future goals, assets & liabilities, etc. is imperative in defining appropriate insurance coverage. Further, an in-depth evaluation of needs and wants helps in gauging potential risks and their preparedness.

Gathering information: Once you've identified your needs, gathering information about different insurers and policies available in the market, comparing their features, terms & conditions, exclusions, deductibles, premium costs, etc. is important.

Seeking professional advice: Consulting an insurance agent can give precise judgment of products available in the market, and the best-suited options as per your needs.

Evaluating products: Lastly, determining an appropriate coverage limit at an affordable premium, efficient after-sale service, and claim settlement ratio of the insurer serves as relevant arrowheads while buying an insurance product.

Q. While investing in any kind of insurance, what is the most important factor that one must be aware of?

While buying insurance, say health insurance, careful examination of various factors is taken into consideration. Understanding coverage details, benefits, exclusions, sub-limits, and others gives a clear understanding of what medical expenses and services are covered. Here are some key factors which one should consider while getting health insurance:

Comprehensive coverage: Review whether the health cover provides comprehensive coverage for hospitalization, pre, and post-hospitalization, conventional/ modern or alternate treatment, annual health ups, OPD care, preventive care, second opinion for medical treatment, cover for mental health, and so on. One should ensure that the policy covers specific services as per your needs.

Pre-existing conditions: Determine the clauses an insurer has for pre-existing ailments. Some health insurance plans have waiting periods or exclusions for certain pre-existing conditions, while others may provide coverage immediately. Understanding the said clauses would make individuals aware of the plan that would best suit their requirements.

Wide cashless network: Health Insurance companies have a network of hospitals and diagnostic centres where they provide an option of availing cashless medical services. Researching for an insurer that has a wide and exhaustive network of healthcare providers across the country assures that in the hour of need, medical help would just be a short distance away.

Deductibles, co-payments, sub-limits: Evaluate the various features of a health insurance plan. Deductibles, co-payments, sub-limits, waiting periods, no claim bonus, room type, claim intimation and more are features of a comprehensive health cover. A careful evaluation of these features would ensure you buy a plan that best suits your needs.

Policy exclusions: There are certain exclusions or limitations in health insurance policies. These exclusions may include some listed medical conditions, treatments, or medical services. Understanding these exclusions would help you assess potential gaps in the coverage and accordingly make informed decisions.

Customer service and support: Research the reputation & customer service track record of the insurer. Check reviews and ratings to know that the company has a good reputation for handling claims, providing support, and addressing customer inquiries.

Q. What are the steps that you suggest should be taken to build customer trust by insurance firms?

Building customer trust is crucial for insurance firms. Here are some steps that can help establish & maintain trust in the minds of customers:

Transparent communication: Foster open and transparent communication with customers. Provide clear and concise information about policy terms & conditions, coverage, premiums, and any changes or updates in the product aside from being proactive in addressing customer inquiries & complaints.

Clear policy documentation: Ensure that policy documents are written in clear and easily understandable language. Avoid using complex nomenclature that may confuse customers.

Education and resources: Provide resources and tools to educate customers about insurance concepts, terminology, and how to navigate the industry. Offer online guides, FAQs, video tutorials, etc. to empower customers to make informed decisions.

Privacy and data security: Establish strong privacy and data security measures to protect customers' personal and sensitive information. Implement stringent data protection protocols, comply with relevant regulations, and clearly communicate data handling practices to instil confidence in the minds of customers.

Quality customer service: Last but not least, invest in a dedicated and knowledgeable customer service team that can provide prompt and helpful assistance to customers. Train customer service representatives to be empathetic, responsive, and well-informed about the products.

Q. Insurance awareness has gone up a bit since mid-Covid. Do you feel that this trend will continue?

COVID-19 fuelled growth in awareness about health insurance. It highlighted the vulnerability individuals and businesses can encounter in the face of unexpected events, especially when it comes to health. Hence, the need to secure health gained acceptability among all.

While it's challenging to predict with certainty, it is possible this trend of increased insurance awareness may continue in the future, as it has in the post-COVID period. Individuals & businesses have recognized the value of securing their health and the health of their employees, respectively, to avoid financial strain on their families and safeguard the well-being of their workforce. Further, it has been observed that the younger generation is increasingly getting interested in securing their health and planning their finances early in life.

Q. More people from tier-2 and tier-3 cities are now showing an interest in insurance products. Do you think it hints at successful insurance penetration among the large uninsured population in India?

The demand for health insurance is steadily increasing in smaller towns and cities. Several reasons like the rising cost of medical expenses, increased awareness of the importance of health insurance, and availability of innovative, affordable health insurance products are significant drivers of this growth.

In fact, this rate is even higher in rural areas due to growth in the adoption of digital literacy and efforts by regional rural/cooperative banks & other government organizations to increase penetration of health insurance. Efforts are to provide affordable, comprehensive health coverage with an easy claim settlement process.

The regulatory bodies and insurance companies have been working towards expanding their reach in untapped markets and simplifying the insurance process in the best interests of the consumers. Continued efforts are being made to upgrade, and adapt digital technologies to bridge any possible gap and ensure affordable and relevant insurance products are accessible to a larger portion of the uninsured population in India.


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First Published: 28 Jun 2023, 09:53 AM IST