Jun 29 2023

National Insurance Awareness Day: Health insurance is a necessity, says Sapna Desai of ManipalCigna Health Insurance

Q1. 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?

While health insurance in India has grown significantly over the past few years, there are still many factors that are hindering its growth. Most people are still unaware that health insurance is a living benefit product. With the rising prevalence of lifestyle diseases, communicable and non-communicable disease, and the unpredictable nature of health-related emergencies, having health insurance is no longer a luxury but a necessity.

To educate the people about the importance of health insurance products, and empower them to make informed decisions. Public awareness campaigns, mass media, social media platforms, and community outreach programs, can be organized to disseminate information about health insurance, its advantages, and how to choose the right policy. Additionally, as a part of financial literacy, students could be informed about the importance of health insurance in schools. Students who understand the basics of insurance will be better equipped to make informed financial decisions in the future. These campaigns should focus on debunking myths, simplifying insurance concepts, and highlighting the financial security that health insurance provides in times of medical emergencies.

Q2. 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?

The pandemic has driven an awareness around the significance of protective investments, especially when it comes to the aspects of health and life security. Today, people are not asking the question ‘Why do I need health insurance’ rather they are asking ‘How much do I need’. People have now understood that buying a health insurance policy needs to be included in one’s financial planning as it will help safeguard finances in the long run.

Thus, it is important to invest in health insurance policies with higher sum insured, as a health insurance policy with higher sum insured can take care of everything – from treatment of critical illnesses such as cancer and heart-related ailments to advanced procedures such as robotic and bariatric surgeries. Earlier, a health insurance floater policy of INR 5 lakh was considered adequate till recently. But, the rising healthcare costs are pushing individuals to opt for higher covers. A higher Sum Insured and comprehensive coverage is essential in a health insurance plan if one wants to fight the high medical costs and avail access to quality healthcare.

And, before buying the right insurance product, it is important for customers to assess the size of the cover, for instance the cost of treatment is higher in metro cities than non-metros and choose a plan after considering what is covered, not covered, exclusion, specific waiting period, PED condition. Besides look for inflation adjusted Sum Insured, disease wise sub limits, room rent and ICU sub limits, restoration  benefits, ease of claim process (Cashless & Reimbursement). And lastly it’s also important to look for additional benefits such as Cashless OPD cover, cumulative bonus booster, rewards for healthy lifestyle amongst several others.

With changing income, family size, and needs over time, you may evaluate your plan and extend coverage as necessary. Given the rising expense of healthcare,  one you should get a Rs. 10 - 20 lakhs health insurance coverage may be the best option to meet any form of treatment or hospitalisation costs of major illnesses.

Q3. While investing in any kind of insurance, what is the most important factor that one must be aware of?

When investing in any type of insurance, the most important factor to be aware of is understanding your specific needs. In today’s time it is crucial to have a health insurance product that will see you through a lifetime. That’s why, you should have a health insurance product that is simple, predictable and affordable that will take care of the living benefits of health insurance throughout your and your family’s lifetime.

So, while buying a health insurance policy, look for a policy that’s customizable and comprehensive to secure not just the current health needs but also the ones you and your family are likely to require at different stages of life. It’s also important to look for additional benefits such as cashless OPD, global cover, non-medical expenses, loyalty bonus, premium waiver, restoration benefits, cumulative bonus booster, ease of claim process (Cashless & Reimbursement), rewards for healthy lifestyle amongst several others. Also, it is important that people are aware of what they have bought and they should definitely make an honest declaration of their health status while buying the health insurance policy so that there are no challenges during the claim process.

You can also seek advice from trusted insurance agents or financial advisors if navigating options is challenging. At ManipalCigna we always emphasize the significance of ‘Expert Ki Suno Sahi Chuno’ and highlight the importance of seeking a health insurance expert to simplify the choice, help choose the right health insurance plan to suit unique health needs, and to easily access quality healthcare.

Q4. What are the steps that you suggest should be taken to build customer trust by insurance firms?

By adopting customer-centric strategies, embracing digital technologies, simplifying processes, providing personalized support, and promoting wellness can foster customer trust, satisfaction, and loyalty. In a rapidly evolving industry, a customer-first approach is vital for insurance firms to remain competitive and build long-term relationships with the policyholders. Regular and proactive communication is also essential to keep customers informed about their policies and any updates or changes. Timely communication during the claims process can also enhance transparency and build trust.

Many individuals in India are also unaware of the benefits and coverage options available to them under health insurance policy. Hence, customer awareness and education programs are important to educate them about the health insurance product. This involves providing comprehensive information about policies, coverage, terms, and conditions. Avoiding complex jargon and explaining concepts in simple terms helps customers understand what they are buying and builds trust. We at ManipalCigna believe that offering the right product, right service, at the right time to the right customer segment is the key to foster customer trust.

Q5. Insurance awareness has gone up a bit since mid-Covid. Do you feel that this trend will continue?

The pandemic has certainly driven a sudden realization in the consumer mindset around the significance of insurance. Covid has made individuals understand that investing in a comprehensive health insurance policy is a necessity to ensure that the entire family is adequately covered for various forms of diseases and the required medical treatments.

Over the last couple of years, the Health insurance sector has emerged as fastest growing non-life insurance segment and we believe that health sector will continue to grow in the times to come as this is driven by increased awareness and demand, rising affluence in India, and the higher prevalence of diseases. We at ManipalCigna have been on the top of the game through continuous innovation in our product and processes, driving distribution efficiency, digital enablement, and customer service. Going forward, we do see an increase in both need and demand for health insurance products and services and we at ManipalCigna stand committed to champion affordable, predictable, and simple health insurance products and services to address the opportunities, remain agile to our customers evolving needs and expand our market opportunity.

Q6. 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 healthcare costs are on a continuous rise, but India is both Under insured & Uninsured country with a low insurance penetration rate. The overall changes brought by the regulator has affected the health insurance industry in a positive manner and will certainly help the industry to grow at a faster pace. Also, with the current health insurance reforms taken by the IRDAI committee, India is coming closer to its goal of ‘Insurance for all, by 2047’

The increased focus of the company on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities is aligned with insurance regulator IRDAI’s exhortation to the insurance sector to take steps to enhance insurance penetration across the country.  In India, there is still a significant lack of knowledge regarding insurance. All interested parties, including insurers, regulators, and intermediaries, must raise awareness through a variety of programmes, including digital marketing and conventional media channels

Offering policies that align with these areas' economic, social, and cultural dynamics can encourage more individuals to consider insurance as a viable option. Insurance companies should prioritise efficient claims settlement, and excellent customer service to gain the trust of individuals in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

Today customers are simply saying I want to buy Health Insurance but first know me, help me and make it easier for me to engage with the health care eco system. So, insurers need to continuously developing right products and right services, which matches right customer needs more clearly. The health insurance solutions have to be simple, predictable and affordable. Value for money based affordable healthcare insurance solutions will ensure deeper penetration into tier 2, 3 towns and will open up newer markets for the health insurers.