Inflation, fast-improving medical facilities and cutting-edge treatment procedures also mean that the costs of treating critical illnesses is on the rise. More so, a few critical illnesses can clearly put undue but unavoidable strain on your existing Health Insurance and can single-handedly exhaust your cover. In contemporary times, ailments like cancer, cardiac and kidney or lung transplant etc. may cost up to Rs 30 lakh or even more depending on the quality of the hospital and treatment procedures. Hence, if you have taken a health policy of Rs 5 lakh or Rs 10 lakh or even Rs 20 Lakhs, you may face a liquidity crunch.
Critical illness insurance can guarantee you a better cover for high cost treatments. Therefore, choosing the right critical illness cover is important for getting a wide-ranging cover.
Let us take a look at things you should keep in mind for buying the right critical illness insurance.
Check What All Are Covered In The Policy
Type of illness covered in critical policy varies from companies to companies. Some companies may cover 10 illnesses, whereas others may cover 20 illness or even more. Normally a critical illness policy covers diseases like cancer, stroke, kidney ailment etc. You should assess your hereditary health profile to understand what type of ailments have a greater chance to affect you. Also, look at your lifestyle and associated hazards to find out specific ailments from which you would require an insurance protection. The greater number of ailments covered in a policy could be a better choice, but it may cost you a higher amount in comparison to a policy that covers a less number of ailments.
The Need For Critical Illness Cover
Critical Illness (CI) Cover helps in meeting the expenses that are not covered through the Health Insurance Plan. Diagnosis of a serious illness could lead to a person losing his job or going on a leave without pay for a longer duration. In such a scenario, the sum assured under the Critical Illness cover can take care of both medical costs as well as daily expenses. Depending on the company you opt for, Critical Illness can also cover the cost of alternative medical treatments, specialised doctors or overseas treatment. The CI cover has an edge over many health insurance policies as it can help you meet all your miscellaneous expenses like medical tests and check-ups.
Take Appropriate Cover Size
You should look at the specific ailments for which you are planning to buy critical illness insurance and accordingly decide the cover size. For example, if you are apprehensive that in the future you have a chance of having cardiac issues and it would cost around Rs 15 lakh for the treatment and financial support to the family, then you should buy the insurance that provides at least the full amount cover. It’s always advisable to slightly enhance the cover because the recovery may take longer and your family would need financial support during that period. Critical illness insurance gives the upfront amount once the ailment is detected, therefore, it becomes easier for the insured person to decide how he/she plans to get the treatment and how much fund he should allocate for the family’s support.
Buy As Add-on/Rider With Insurance Policy Or Buy It Separately?
You have the option to buy a critical illness policy as a standalone product from an insurance company or you can buy it as a rider with your life or health policy provided that your insurance company allows it.
If you purchase it as a rider with your life policy, then the premium remains same throughout the policy period, but if you buy it separately from a general insurance company, then the policy price will be revised upwards as per the age slab.
As a rider since you may get only a certain percentage of your life cover as critical illness cover, you may fall short of your requirement if your life cover is not decent enough. If you buy a standalone critical illness insurance, then you can consider high cover policy depending on your requirement. Also, the standalone critical illness plan can give you more customised options in comparison to riders.
Always compare plans under both rider and standalone insurance and read the fine prints of what all it covers and the exclusion rules before you finalize the policy.
What Is Not Covered
It is also important to understand the exclusions under Critical Illness Plans. After the policy is bought, there is no coverage for 60 days (in some cases 30 days). It also doesn't cover pre-existing diseases and overseas treatment. Dental treatment, birth control, sex change, hernia, cataract, gastric etc. are exempted from coverage.
Other important points
Critical Illness plans have a certain waiting period and once such period is over then only become eligible to get the risk cover. Normally, insurance companies ask for a waiting period of 90 days. Similarly, there is a survival clause attached to the critical illness policy which requires you to live through such survival period to get the claim amount. Normally survival period is 30 days by most companies.
Some insurance companies do not give a full insurance amount for certain ailments, instead they allow cover with a sub limit i.e. upper limit for the specific ailment. You should prefer insurance plan which has no sub limit for any of the ailments.
While buying the critical plan, use the online comparison tool to find out the best policy which suits to your requirement. Do not consider price as the sole criteria to decide the insurance plan, but also look at the service quality of the insurance company, claim settlement time and ratio, number of ailments covered, additional benefits and a plan with minimum survival period etc.
The author is CEO, BankBazaar