Coronavirus | IRDAI to take a call on extending tenure of COVID-19 related products

The insurance sector watchdog is also working towards facilitating a standard product for coronavirus, which will be easy to understand by policyholders and will not require “voluminous policy documents”.

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) is mulling over a plan to allow the tenure extension of COVID-19 specific insurance products as the vaccine for the disease is seemingly away by some more time, its Chairman Subhash C Khuntia said on Thursday.

Besides, the insurance sector watchdog is also working towards facilitating a standard product for coronavirus, which will be easy to understand by policyholders and will not require “voluminous policy documents”.

“With regard to extending the tenure of the COVID-19 related products, we are hoping that the vaccine would not be delayed for too long. But now that it appears it will take some more time, we will take decision about extending the tenure of the policy at an appropriate time,” Mr. Khuntia said while addressing the CII Insurance and Pensions Summit webcast.

Corona Kavach, which was launched on July 10 and is being offered by both general and health insurers, is a standard health insurance policy created to meet the treatment requirements for coronavirus infection.

The term of the policy ranges from three-and-a-half months to nine-and-a-half months, with maximum insured amount at ₹5 lakh.

On new COVID-19 insurance products, Mr. Khuntia said, “We are coming out with a standard product, the idea is that a standard product, which is to be sold by all the companies, should be so that it becomes much easier for the policyholder to pick up that product. And they don’t have to go through voluminous policy documents…,” he said.

He also explained how the domestic insurance industry is faring amidst the global economic slowdown and hoped that the sector will recover soon as the nature of the service is counter-cyclical, meaning it is needed the most at the time of crisis and distress.

Overall, the insurance business had a de-growth of 19.1% in April as compared to the last year. Now there has been a positive growth of 2.1% during April-August this fiscal as against the previous year’s same period, said the IRDAI chief.

“Life insurance has grown by 2% and non-life by 3.6% (till August 2020). So it is a positive sign and I am quite hopeful that this growth rate will pick up now. I think the next quarter will be much better than this quarter,” he said.

“And since insurance industry is in the business of providing protection in times of need and distress, I have appealed to the insurance industry that it must rise to the occasion and cater to the public need at this difficult time,” Mr. Khuntia said.

Further, he said as far as COVID-19 related claims are concerned, 2,38,160 health claims have been filed so far and 1,48,298 cases have been settled involving ₹1,430 crore.

Mr. Khuntia said IRDAI is well prepared to deal with the situation even as the number of cases has been rising and he has asked the insurance providers to fast track claims settlement at a much faster pace than usual.

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