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Covid survivors who buy new insurance cover face exclusions – Times of India

CHENNAI: Covid-19 survivors who seek to buy new health insurance could face hurdles in future claims if their ailments can be linked to the viral infection. With the coronavirus affecting different organs over time, future complications could be categorised as a ‘pre-existing’ condition by insurance companies.
Insurers cover pre-existing diseases only after a ‘waiting period’, which varies from 2-5 years which is a standard clause in health policies. For example, a person with bronchial asthma and is admitted in the ICU for Covid-19, any lung condition will be endorsed as a ‘pre-existing’. However, once the waiting period is over, insurers cannot reject claims for such ailments.
“Insurance is a game of large numbers, and companies must come forward to provide cover for Covid-19 survivors without discrimination. However, Covid-19, along with other comorbid, will be noted as pre-existing conditions,” said Dr S Prakash, head of Star Health Insurance Company.
The long-term effects of Covid-19 like damaged lungs, clots in blood vessels are largely experienced by those hospitalised for 4-6 weeks and those with comorbidities. Some long-term patients experience permanent damage to lungs, heart, kidneys or brain.
“A Covid-19 survivor upon discharge will go back with a compromised lung. Most of Covid infected have recovered while a few will continue to live with diseases like lung fibrosis (damaged and scarred lung tissues),” Prakash said. Gurdeep Singh Batra, head of retail underwriting of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, says only extreme Covid cases where nervous, respiratory and cardiac systems were affected, it will be categorised under the pre-existing disease.
“In cases where patients were under home quarantine and recovered, the waiting period could be between 30 and 60 days. If the survivor is only renewing a policy and not buying a new one, there will be no waiting period,” Batra said.
Insurers say not only physical, even mental health of Covid survivors have to be considered before underwriting a health cover. “There are patients who come with mental illness now, where their nervous system being affected has led to post-Covid syndrome,” he said. The average ticket size of Covid claims stands at Rs 1.20 lakh and non-Covid claims at Rs 75,000.

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