Insurance purchased in India won’t provide you cover abroad

Published in Mint on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, written by Kapil Mehta

I work in India right now and have a medical policy provided by my employer which covers my family including my child, wife and myself. I will soon be going to the UK for a research internship along with my family. I am worried about high medical costs. How much cover should I buy and from where? Can I buy a medical policy online?
—Jonathan

Medical treatment overseas is expensive. Your first option should be to join the group medical insurance that the research institution will have for its regular employees in the UK. You may be asked to pay your share of premium but that will be most cost-efficient. If is not available, then purchase a local insurance in the UK.
You can identify the specific insurance on any well-known UK insurance aggregator. Around ­£100 a month will get a family of three about £50,000 of insurance cover. This is a reasonable cover to take.
You will find it difficult to purchase the insurance while still in India because the online sites have fairly extensive checks and validations to ensure that you are already in the UK. Insurances bought in India will not provide you medical cover in the UK.

I am moving towns within India. Can I cover my household stuff while in transit? How should I go about it?
—Anand

You can buy a transit insurance policy from the transporter who is moving your goods. A Rs.10 lakh insurance will cost less than Rs.1,000. The risks routinely covered are damage due to accident of the vehicle. Some transporters may also be able to provide you insurance to cover theft during the journey.
My parents’ insurance policy covers pre-existing diseases from the second year. Though my mother suffers from hypertension, we did not mention this in the application. In the second year when my mother was hospitalized for hypertension, the claim was denied. My contention is that non-disclosure should not matter because pre-existing diseases are covered in any case in the second year. What is your view?
—Abhishek

Strictly speaking this is a material non-disclosure and the insurer is within its rights to deny the claim. The insurer’s argument will be that had they known about the hypertension they may have declined the case or increased the premium.
However, there may be some insurers that take a more liberal view and pay the sum assured applicable for pre-existing diseases. I would suggest that you appeal to treat this disease as pre-existing but be prepared for a decline.

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