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personal finance | IST

COVID-19 insurance complexity: Good time for regulator to set things right, says Monika Halan

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Insurance companies are in focus as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has received complaints about COVID policies not being offered and renewed. Atul Sahai, CMD of the New India Assurance Company and Monika Halan, Author of Let's Talk Money shared their views.

Insurance companies are in focus as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has received complaints about COVID policies not being offered and renewed. Atul Sahai, CMD of the New India Assurance Company and Monika Halan, Author of Let's Talk Money shared their views.
“As far as New India Assurance is concerned, I don’t see this happening. This could be the approach adopted by some of the companies but in the wake of COVID, no new guidelines have been issued as far as we are concerned,” said Sahai.
"The need for health insurance has suddenly increased for most people. The new insurance buyer has got afraid that something may happen and is now running to buy insurance. Globally, insurance companies are struggling to understand this risk and to price this into premiums. So, different companies approach the cooling-off period differently. COVID-19 pandemic is a new event and everyone is struggling to find their balance with it and people seeking health insurance cover for the first time post COVID are in for a little bit of a rough ride unfortunately,” Halan added.
“This is a great time for the government and the regulator to set things right in terms of insurance,” Halan mentioned.
According to Halan, higher loading is expected for the new policy entrants.
“The companies will have to probably increase the premium for the entire age bucket. The price rise will be across the board and not specific to a person,” she mentioned.
Incurred Claim Ratio (ICR) is used to gauge whether this market is fair or not. The number is obtained by total claims paid divided by the total premium.
While explaining the current market condition, Halan shared, “If the net number is at 100 percent, then we are seeing a fair marketplace where after profit and cost, insurance companies are neutral.”
“According to data, the private insurance companies’ ICR is 53 percent, the standalone insurance companies' number is 56 percent, and the PSUs are 92 percent, which means they are doing well. I think it is a complete regulatory failure because you are not being able to ensure that there is no gouging of the customer,” she further mentioned.
“We are not going to increase the premium till we tide over this crisis,” Sahai shared.
For the entire discussion, watch the accompanying video