Are women-only covers a good buy?

Plans tailored for women may not offer the spectrum of benefits available in a regular health policy.

Health insurance is not priority for women in India. A recent survey among 1,009 women found only 39% of them had health cover. Of this figure, 22% had bought insurance for themselves, while the rest depended upon policies bought for them by male relatives or employers.

The survey, conducted by ICICI Lombard General Insurance, found that despite a rise in claims filed by women in 2014, not too many women were coming forward to buy health insurance. Given the low awareness for the need of health cover, should women opt for products tailored for them?

What’s on offer?

Insurers like Bajaj Allianz, Aegon Religare Life and Tata-AIG General offer products or rider benefits exclusively for women.

Tata AIG’s Wellsurance Woman is a combination of a hospitalisation and critical illness cover that pays for 11 critical illnesses. Aegon Religare’s Woman Care rider is attached to its term insurance policy and covers critical illnesses afflicting women as well as congenital disabilities affecting their new-borns.

Bajaj Allianz’s Women-Specific Critical Illness Insurance covers eight women-specific critical illnesses. It also offers a payout of 50% of the sum insured in case of birth of a child with congenital disabilities.

As these are primarily defined benefit products, the sum is handed over once a claim is made. Also, since the amount is paid out even if another claim has been filed under a regular indemnity policy, it can be used to fund any lifestyle modification or recuperation expenses.

Is it worth it?

As a woman, you need to ensure that you have a cover of at least `5 lakh, at least under a family floater policy. Budget permitting, you can buy a top-up cover, which gets triggered only after the base policy of say `5 lakh is exhausted.

If you are convinced about critical illness covers, you must first evaluate the terms and conditions. “There are hardly any great specialised plans available for women. Insurance companies have attempted creating such plans but they have no major cost or feature advantage, vis-avis a standard regular plan in the market,“ says Mahavir Chopra, Director, Health Insurance, Coverfox Insurance Brokers (See chart).

For instance, insurance plans targeted only at women charge anything between `900 and `3,000 as premium, depending on sum insured and cover women-related critical illnesses and hospitalisation. On the other hand, a regular health plan covers the same illnesses and more for a lower premium.

At first glance, products dedicated to womenspecific ailments may look attractive, but should they find a place in your portfolio? “You should weigh both options against the premium before buying a specialised product. The overall deal works in the favour of regular plans than such specialised plans,“ says Chopra.

The survey found women more susceptible than men to ailments like anaemia, arthritis and urinary infections. Yet, 75% of the respondents did not go for preventive check-ups. “Women do not give priority to their health. They must give importance to financial protection against medical emergencies,“ says Sanjay Datta, Chief, Underwriting and Claims, ICICI Lombard.

Source: Economic Times

Date: 30-03-2015

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