Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death around the world and according to the World Heath Organisation an estimated 17.9 million people die to this complication each year.
More than four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, and one third of these deaths occur prematurely in people under 70 years of age, says WHO.
Indians too contribute a major share of these deaths. According to WHO, in 2016 India reported 63% of total deaths due to NCDs, of which 27% were attributed to CVDs. CVDs also account for 45% of deaths in the 40-69 year age group.
So, what makes insurance covers important, especially for critical illness like CVDs? On World Heart Day, Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN) explores, what makes insurance significant today?
Underlining the significance of an insurance cover, Sanjay Tiwari, Director – Strategy, Exide Life Insurance said, “With changing lifestyle and increase in overall medical expenditure, it is important to plan for unforeseen and uncertain financial liabilities which may arise due to critical illnesses. Not only do these illnesses have a long treatment tenure but also add to the financial liability for the family due to the high treatment costs and loss of income.”
“An insurance plan which covers critical illnesses in the form of a rider or a fixed benefit health plan, provides a lump sum amount on diagnosis of covered critical illnesses. The amount is irrespective of the treatment costs and provides financial security which covers the income loss in addition to the cost of the treatment. These plans are flexible and allow the customers to choose the number of CIs they want to be covered for, the tenure of the cover, the premium payment modes etc. Adding a CI plan to the life insurance portfolio gives a 360 degree financial protection to the customer’s family covering the mortality, longevity and morbidity risks under the same umbrella.”
With the rising concern over deaths due to heart diseases and the pinch to the pocket to getting the treatment done, buying insurance policies are emerging as on the best position options to be on the safer side.
As stated in an article published on Future Generali Insurance’s website, in a regular private hospital, the cost of an open heart surgery ranges from Rs 1.75 lakh to 4.25 lakh. Coronary angiography is likely to cost one around Rs.10,000 to Rs. 15,000. Moreover, valve surgeries could easily cost you between Rs 2.5 lakh- 4 lakh.”
And importantly, most of the cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol, says WHO.
Talking about the risk of getting a heart ailment and bearing the burden of treatment, in the absence of an insurance cover,
Indraneel Chatterjee, Co-Founder of RenewBuy said, “Due to sedentary lifestyle and increased lifestyle disorders, it is suggested that people opt for critical health insurance. Fast moving lifestyle has brought an increase in illnesses like cancer, heart attack, kidney issues, permanent paralysis of organs, liver disease and many other life threating diseases. If these illnesses are not treated on time, they can be life endangering, along with creating huge financial burden on the family.”
“Most of the critical illness insurance policies are benefit products, where one of the features of this insurance is that the policy holder need not get hospitalized to obtain the insurance claim. The insurer would pay a lumpsum amount if the disease included in the medical examination policy is confirmed (provided the disease is listed in the critical illness policy purchased),” he added.
While getting an insurance cover is definitely becoming important but the added challenges induced by Covid-19 pandemic is making it difficult for the buyers to choose a plan by physically visiting the insurance provides and getting the formal done.
Commenting on how the digital offerings are becoming a gamechanger amid the pandemic, Chatterjee said, “Digital witnessed a big turnaround post the Covid pandemic. From businesses to consumers, there has been a paradigm shift towards using digital and going contactless. The insurance sector too channelised digital mediums and insurance manufacturing companies joined hands with digitally enabled insurance distribution companies to take insurance to the masses. Health and life insurance witnessed a huge demand since the first wave of the pandemic and digital insurance played a key role in taking insurance to consumers beyond the top 50-60 cities.”
“A company like ours, changed the way insurance was bought, sold and serviced way before the pandemic. However, digital witnessed a sudden boost and growing significance post Covid, where consumers realised the need to go contactless. Our digitally enabled insurance distribution model empowers our Insurance (POSP) advisors to reach out to consumers in the smallest of cities. The POSP insurance advisors guide consumers with the best insurance products and help them buy the best policy, which suit their needs and requirements. The entire insurance end-to-end process is managed through RenewBuy’s app, which helps consumers buy insurance, get services in a few minutes. Claim settlements are also made hassle free through the digital model. RenewBuy is constantly upgrading its tech model to increase consumer outreach and service more and more consumers in the years to come,” he added.
Sharing his views on why insurance providers are investing on technology, Tiwari from, Exide Life Insurance stated, “In the light of the pandemic, insurers are investing in the creating tech based processes to make the customer-on boarding and servicing related aspects more agile, seamless and flexible. Insurance industry, that heavily relies on physical branch visits, was disrupted when the pandemic hit and companies had to adopt models that would ensure business continuity. Today, most of the policy related servicing can be done online by little or limited help from Customer Service Executive.”
“To make the digital purchase and renewal of insurance seamless, online modes of payments, quick renewals, Auto-Debit facilities and verification and validation processes such as digital signatures, video verifications, OTP based authentications etc. have been made available,” he added.