Any spike in Covid cases could be a worry for health insurers

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Mumbai: A possible second wave of coronavirus infections in India, as seen in several European countries, could prove to be a major setback for the health insurance industry that’s already facing a deluge of claims.

A total of 5.76 lakh claims worth Rs 8,597 crore have been filed with insurance companies on account of the treatment costs for the pandemic, with only 4.2 lakh claims worth Rs 3,871 crore settled as on November 18, latest data from General Insurance Council of India (GIC) sourced by ET showed.

Of these, nearly 1.31 lakh new medical claims worth Rs 1,761 crore have been filed in less than 30 days — during the peak festive period — between October 20 and November 18, the data further showed.

A sudden spike in new cases in states such as Delhi and Gujarat has led to insurers preparing for a possibility of increased new claims.

“We have seen a second wave of coronavirus infections in European countries such as France and the United Kingdom,” S Prakash, Managing Director at Star Health and Allied Insurance.

“The industry should be prepared to face the second test. In the best interest of policyholder and nation, industry should be prepared for any sudden spike in cases,” he added.

According to the CEO of a general insurance company, the new claims on account of the pandemic had “peaked” in September and these are now moderating.

“The biggest jump in new claims was seen from September to October. However, the industry must be careful as a second wave could spell bad news for the industry as non-covid-19 claims are also on the rise as opposed to the early days of the pandemic when expedition of settlement was not as challenging,” the executive requesting anonymity said.

Meanwhile, the GIC data also suggest that insurers are also struggling to expedite medical claims within the stipulated two-hour period from the time of discharge. While 5.02 lakh policyholders infected with the virus have been discharged as on November 18, only 4.2 lakh of these claims have been settled.

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