SecureNow has developed health insurance ratings for close to a decade because of which we have a ringside view of health insurance policies and how they have changed over time.
Our collaboration with Moneycontrol gives these ratings a large platform and brings them to readers who have to make health insurance decisions. These ratings serve many useful purposes.
They are an excellent guide to helping you buy health insurance. We do detailed analyses of all the products available. Consider this — there are over 22 insurers, 78 products, 750 product combinations and over 10,000 data points that we evaluate. You will find it very difficult to do this kind of research by yourself.
Even if we were to share the raw data that we collect with you, it would be bewildering and difficult to decipher. I have seen that too much information can also confuse. Many will be unable to decide and more data does not necessarily result in better outcomes. That is where our ratings are extremely useful. They synthesise vast amounts of information into simple A, B and C ratings that you can relate to.
How to use Moneycontrol-SecureNow ratings
The way most use the Moneycontrol-SecureNow ratings is that they shortlist the health products they would like and then select one based on feedback from their advisors or friends. Sometimes you already have a list of products identified and the ratings validate your views. There are many health insurance options for you to choose from. A full 27 percent of health insurance policies are A-rated, with over 20 core products.
Our ratings track products and industry trends over time. Product changes are a result of regulatory priorities and your preferences. Consider the waiting period for pre-existing conditions: This is the number of years pre-existing health conditions are excluded from coverage. This exclusion accounts for most early claim rejections. Regulations allow a maximum of four years and lower waiting periods are better for you.
In 2013, a full 73 percent of products had a waiting period of four years. In our 2023 ratings this has fallen to 41 percent, a very significant improvement for the industry. Only 10 percent of the products in 2013 had a waiting of two years. Now that is 22 percent, an impressive improvement. This demonstrates how market forces and focus on certain product features steadily improve products.
Claim settlement rates have remained consistently high over the past decade despite an exponential increase in claims. In 2013 and 2023, broadly over 60 percent of the insurers had claim settlement records of over 90 percent.
The most startling changes are in prices and the number of products available. Consider family floaters with sums insured of Rs 10 lakh at age 45. In 2013, there were 18 such products at an average premium of Rs 31,000. Today there are 27 products in this category with an average premium of Rs 27,000. Over 10 years, the number of products has increased by 50 percent and premiums have decreased slightly. This is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates how competitive intensity benefits you.
Ratings nudge insurers to make more effort to develop certain features. A decade ago, the restore benefit was a unique product feature. Here, the sum assured is reset when it is completely used up. In the first edition of our ratings, only one insurer offered this feature.
Today, this is a market standard and insurers differentiate based on how the incremental sum assured is reduced after a claim and on the diseases for which the sum assured is restored. Another feature where there has been considerable improvement is disease-wise sum assured caps. These caps were common a decade ago. Over time, the restrictions have been largely removed, except for cataract surgery.
Finally, the extent of information publicly available is far greater than ever before. We have access to the public disclosures of all insurers, the regulator’s annual reports, statistical handbooks, the ombudsman’s annual reports and special reports that come from time to time. Some disclosures now have product-wise information available, and our future ratings will factor this in.
Best time to buy a cover
This is a very good time to buy health insurance. Apart from the large number of product options available, regulations ensure a minimum quality of health insurance. Any health insurance you buy is renewable as long as you live.
Your premiums cannot change just for you based on claims that you have made. Finally, after you have held an insurance policy for eight years, the insurer cannot reject your claim. Contractual definitions and exclusions have been standardised. There really is no better time to buy health insurance than now.