With Ris­ing Costs, it may Pay to Buy a Sep­a­rate Ma­ter­nity Cover

Ex­perts, how­ever, ad­vise one to be care­ful about riders like wait­ing pe­riod, sub-lim­its and re­stric­tions on the num­ber of child births or ter­mi­na­tions, says Preeti Kulkarni

The Economic Times - - Markets & Finance -

Many in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are of­fer­ing ma­ter­nity cov­ers as a part of their reg­u­lar health poli­cies these days. Ear­lier, ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits were ex­tended only as a part of em­ploy­ers’ cor­po­rate health in­sur­ance poli­cies. How­ever, com­pa­nies like ICICI Lom­bard, Max Bupa and Apollo Mu­nich have started of­fer­ing this cover, with sub-lim­its rang­ing from .` 15,000-50,000. How­ever, these prod­ucts are costly and have a long wait­ing pe­riod of up to six years. Does it make sense to buy them? “In­di­vid­u­als can buy ma­ter­nity cover if their em­ployer’s in­sur­ance doesn’t cover it. Even self­em­ployed peo­ple should con­sider buy­ing it. How­ever, they should eval­u­ate whether the cost and wait­ing pe­riod, af­ter which such a cover is avail­able, are rea­son­able,” says Arvind Lad­dha, CEO, Van­tage In­sur­ance Brokers.

What Does it Cover?

Ma­ter­nity cover takes care of ex­penses re­lated to de­liv­ery (nor­mal and cae­sarean sec­tion) or the law­ful med­i­cal ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy dur­ing the pol­icy pe­riod. How­ever, there could be con­di­tions lim­it­ing the num­ber of de­liv­er­ies or ter­mi­na­tions, ei­ther dur­ing the life­time of the in­sured per­son or the pol­icy pe­riod, says Antony Ja­cob, CEO of health in­surer Apollo Mu­nich. Pre- and post-na­tal ex­penses per de­liv­ery or ter­mi­na­tion are also cov­ered. De­pend­ing on the in­surer and the prod­uct vari­ant, WHO-ap­proved vac­ci­na­tions and med­i­cal treat­ment for the new born till 90 days or the next re­newal will also be paid for. If your pol­icy en­ti­tles you to daily cash hand-outs, you can use it to take care of your sundry ex­penses too. “If the in­sured per­son chooses the room type wisely, an ad­di­tional sum as daily hos­pi­tal cash can be used for other re­lated ex­penses like medicines,” says Ja­cob.

Ac­cord­ing to Max Bupa, a rise in ma­ter­nity claims points to the rel­e­vance of the pol­icy. “We have noted an al­most 50% in­crease in claims re­lated to ma­ter­nity in the last year. Cov­er­age for ma­ter­nity-re­lated ex­penses is gain­ing im­por­tance with

Read the Fine Print

in­crease in med­i­cal costs as well as ma­ter­nal age and greater in­ci­dence of life­style dis­eases that may lead to com­pli­ca­tions at the time of preg­nancy,” says Manasije Mishra, CEO, Max Bupa. San­jay Datta, chief, un­der­writ­ing and claims, ICICI Lom­bard Gen­eral In­sur­ance, also be­lieves that the pol­icy is worth its pre­mium be­cause “it not just takes care of the hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion costs, but also the in­sured’s pre and post-na­tal ex­penses.” The com­pany’s claim fig­ures in­di­cate a sharp in­crease in ma­ter­nity claims in 2013. While de­liv­ery-re­lated claims went up by 36.52% from 2012, claims paid out for treat­ment of com­pli­ca­tions in new born ba­bies shot up by nearly 46%. “Gen­er­ally, ma­ter­nity cov­ers are re­stricted to max­i­mum 10% of the over­all sum in­sured and the cover is avail­able only in the third year of con­tin­u­ous cov­er­age. Wait­ing pe­ri­ods ex­tend to over two years. The in­sured should eval­u­ate whether the pre­mium is worth the ben­e­fit of tak­ing this cover,” says Lad­dha. Prospec­tive buy­ers should ex­am­ine sub-lim­its, or ceil­ing, for ma­ter­nity cover closely. Most in­sur­ers im­pose caps of .` 15,000-25,000 for nor­mal de­liv­er­ies and .` 30,000-Rs 50,000 for cae­sarean sec­tion de­liv­er­ies. Sim­i­larly, ad­mis­si­ble pre­and post-na­tal ex­penses, too, could be limited to .` 1,500-5,000. Wait­ing pe­riod — when ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits are not paid — usu­ally ranges from two to six years. “If the wait­ing pe­riod is low, there is a higher cost as­so­ci­ated with the plan,” says Ja­cob.

Poli­cies that of­fer ma­ter­nity cov­ers are still costlier than reg­u­lar ones. For ex­am­ple, un­der Max Bupa’s fam­ily floater prod­uct, the an­nual pre­mium for a 30-year-old woman seek­ing a cover of .` 5 lakh with ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits will be .` 14,816 (in a fam­ily of two adults). With­out this com­po­nent, it will be cheaper by around .` 2,000-3,000. Sim­i­larly, in case of ICICI Lom­bard, the floater cover with­out ma­ter­nity ben­e­fits will be cheaper by around .` 7,000, while the dif­fer­ence is .` 1,000 un­der Apollo Mu­nich’s in­di­vid­ual pol­icy.

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