Reflecting the wide spread of Covid, insurers report a surge in claims from rural regions, too

Health insurers are reporting a flood of Covid-related claims from across the country, including rural regions, reflecting the spread of the pandemic.

Rapid rise

Till last month, Covid claims had been mainly from urban areas of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradhesh, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar as also some from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

“However, we now see a surge in claims from rural areas, too, in line with the rapid surge of the Covid-19 pandemic across regions,” Sanjay Datta, Chief-Underwriting, Claims and Reinsurance, ICICI Lombard GIC, told BusinessLine.

Health insurers have been seeing a jump in the cashless treatment claims relating to Covid-19 cases, Datta said. The government and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India recently told all hospitals not to deny cashless treatment for those eligible under their insurance plan. “Going by the current trend of rising cases, we need to wait and see how the claims scenario will be during this fiscal,” Datta said.

“We have paid Covid-19 claims to 14,500 customers. In 2020, it was around 10,000 in eight months, whereas in 2021, we have witnessed 4,500 claims in just three months,” said Bhabatosh Mishra, Director Underwriting, Products and Claims, Max Bupa.

The average claim size is at about ₹1.4 lakh but there are instances of claims going as high as ₹30 lakh depending on the insurance policy. The industry estimates the total Covid-19 claims payout from the start of the pandemic at ₹15,000 crore.

Demand for cover up

The demand for health insurance, in general, and Covid-cover, in particular, has been going up again. “The second wave of Covid is spreading at a faster rate, which has led to a significant increase in the demand for health insurance policies,” said the top executive of a private health insurer.

According to Datta, many of those who had taken Covid-specific standard cover under ‘Corona Kavach’ have been renewing it, even as fresh demand from new customers is emerging. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India recently extended the deadline for sale/renewal of standard Covid-specific policies by six more months in view of the resurgence of the pandemic.

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