What is Cooling-off Period in Health Insurance?
For patients who have just recovered from certain illnesses, such as from COVID-19, you may come across the term “cooling-off period” with regard to buying a new health insurance policy.
This cooling-off period is basically a time period after recovery during which a person cannot yet buy health insurance, which makes it different from a waiting period. This period can range from a few days to a few months, and is like a deferment period, where a person will completely recover from their illness and then become fit to be insured.
This kind of cool-off period applies to most major health insurance plans in India.
Why is the Cooling-off Period Important in Health Insurance?
When any individual who is currently suffering from, or has just recovered from, a medical condition applies for a health insurance cover, the insurance is underwritten as per the risks involved. Thus, the policy is approved once the medical condition has improved, and the person does not pose a high risk for the insurer.
In cases of people who have recovered from COVID-19, this gives time for their symptoms to fully abate and shows that chances of relapse are minimized. Additionally, those who have asymptomatic COVID-19 might now know that they have the virus but might get diagnosed with coronavirus in the future.
As the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown, and there have been cases of pulmonary and cardiovascular problems, underwriting new policies for recovered patients has become a more complicated process.
A cooling-off period allows a period of time for any such complications to emerge, as they may have a bearing on the policy.
This in turn means that the policyholders will have fewer issues in getting their claims settled in the future.
How Does this Cooling-off Period Work in Health Insurance?
A cooling-off period gives the insurer time to evaluate the customer’s health fairly and accurately before they buy a health insurance policy.
During this waiting period, you may be asked to provide a negative report and to undergo a physical check-up. Some insurers might also require you to disclose any health conditions over the past six months to one year, and provide medical records of the same.
This is important to ensure that a person’s health condition is good from a risk assessment standpoint.
And then, depending on the case, insurance underwriters will take a call on whether to issue a policy immediately or add postpone it for a cooling-off period. However, it is important to note that this doesn’t impact the health insurance premiums.
What is the Minimum Cooling-off Period in Health Insurance?
The cooling-off period for health insurance for coronavirus will be different for different companies. However, in general, those who have been tested positive with COVID-19 need to wait for 15-90 days from the date of diagnosis to apply for medical insurance cover.
People who have fallen ill with the virus have to wait for full recovery, and sometimes also a negative test, before they can buy health insurance cover.
What Can You Do About This Health Insurance Cooling-off Period?
Ideally, you must get a health insurance cover before you could get infected with COVID-19 so that you can avail yourself of the policy’s benefits without any further delay. Always check what is covered under your policy (for example COVID-19 treatment or hospitalization, and the claim amounts), so that you are prepared for all eventualities.
Also, always renew your health insurance on time to avoid any penalties and gaps in your coverage.
In case you have recovered from an illness, remember to disclose any information asked of you, like prior health conditions or medical records, so that you will avoid any discrepancies that can later lead to your claim being rejected.
These days, especially due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a health insurance policy has become a necessity. It can save you from major financial losses in case there is a health emergency. Since those who have recovered from serious illnesses like COVID-19 may have a possibility of future complications, they might need to undergo a cooling-off period so that their health is evaluated fairly and accurately before buying a new health insurance policy.
However, if you’re in good health and not yet infected with the virus, try to get a health insurance coverage as soon as possible, so you can get covered more quickly. And if such a arises, you’ll be covered for any costs incurred during your treatment and recovery period as well.