Policyholders had to make do with their old policy as portability of health insurance was not an option until early 2011. But, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India’s (IRDAI), in July 2011, introduced portability norms, giving policyholders the choice to switch insurers. So, if you are unhappy with your health insurance policy’s features or premiums or insurer’s claim settlement record or benefits, then switch to another insurer without losing benefits. Here’s how.
The portability feature allows policyholders to switch insurers without losing the continuity benefits earned in the existing policy. For instance, most policies cover pre-existing diseases only after a waiting period of up to four years. These pre-existing illnesses are those that you contracted before purchasing the policy. One cannot make a claim immediately for these pre-existing illnesses.
As per insurance regulatory guidelines, pre-existing condition means an ailment diagnosed by a physician within 48 months prior to policy issuance or for which medical advice or treatment was recommended by a physician within 48 months prior to the effective date of the policy.
When opting for the portability of policy, the waiting period doesn’t start from scratch. For instance, if your policy is four years old, your new insurer will have to cover your pre-existing diseases immediately after policy purchase. But if you plan to leave your existing insurer and buy a new policy, then you will have to serve a full waiting period all over again.
While porting a policyholder can opt for a higher sum insured but again the waiting period credit will not be applicable for the increased amount. The features, clauses and premiums of the new insurer will be applicable.
One must consider switching insurers only in case of dissatisfactory experience at the time of claim settlement or exorbitant hike in the premium or if you find a better product elsewhere. Research the policies, premiums offered, cashless hospital network, among other details by other insurers before making a move.
Once finalised, approach your insurer at least 45 days before the renewal of your policy. The process is difficult for senior citizens as insurers are willing to accept portability requests of young, healthy individuals.