3 standardized Insurance plans launched amidst the Pandemic

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) takes various steps to ensure that insurance plans fulfil your requirements and prove relevant to your insurance needs. Given the difficulty of comparing insurance plans due to the different benefit structures, IRDAI introduced the concept of standardized insurance plans. Standardized insurance plans are those that offer a standard set of coverage benefits which is uniform across all insurance companies. There premiums, however, are determined by the insurance companies themselves.

The benefit of standardized insurance plans is to allow individuals to opt for a basic insurance coverage at affordable rates. Moreover, since the plans have uniform features, you can also compare the premiums across different insurers and buy the most affordable coverage.

Ever since the pandemic struck, IRDAI has introduced a range of standardized insurance policies. Three of the most popular policies are as follows –

  1. Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy 

    This is an annual health insurance policy that provides basic health insurance coverage at very affordable rates. The features of the policy are as follows-

    • It can be taken either on an individual or on a floater coverage basis
    • The sum insured is limited to INR 10 lakhs
    • Coverage is allowed for inpatient hospitalisation, pre and post hospitalisation, day care treatments, AYUSH treatments, modern surgeries, among others.
    • 5% cumulative bonus for every claim-free year up to a maximum of 50%
    • Pre-existing waiting period is 4 years

    Relevance

    The Aarogya Sanjeevani Policy is suitable if you are looking for affordable health insurance coverage. If you don’t have health insurance and want to start with a basic cover, this policy would be suitable. The policy would cover the common medical costs associated with hospitalisation. However, there are sub-limits under most coverage benefits and so you should check these sub-limits when buying the plan.

    How to buy?

    Many insurance companies offer the policy online through their websites while some companies offer only the offline mode. You can also buy the policy online through Turtlemint, to compare the premium charged by different insurers and then find the best rate.

    How to claim?

    If you are hospitalised and incur medical costs that are covered under the policy, you can make a claim. The policy is an indemnity based health plan which means that the policy covers the actual medical costs incurred. You can make a cashless claim at networked hospitals or reimbursement claims at non-networked hospitals.

  2. COVID-specific health insurance plans

    Given the rising incidence of hospitalisation following COVID, IRDAI introduced two standard COVID related plans – Corona Kavach and Corona Rakshak. The features of these plans are as follows –

    • Both plans cover only COVID related claims
    • Corona Kavach is an indemnity health plan that covers the actual medical costs incurred on hospitalisation due to COVID. Corona Rakshak, on the other hand, is a fixed-benefit plan that pays a lump sum benefit on hospitalisation due to COVID.
    • The sum insured of Kavach is up to INR 5 lakhs while for Rakshak it is limited to INR 2.5 lakhs
    • Kavach can be taken on a floater basis while Rakshak is available only on an individual basis
    • Both plans pay COVID related claims without any deductibles or limits
    • The tenure of coverage is 3.5 months, 6.5 months or 9.5 months.
    • The waiting period for COVID claims is 15 days

    Relevance

    If you are looking for a specific plan to cover possible COVID infections and the consequences, you can invest in these plans. Their premiums are low and they pay COVID-related claims without any deductibles and after a waiting period of only 15 days.

    However, remember that your normal indemnity health plan also covers COVID. So, do not substitute an indemnity plan with these plans. You can buy these plans in addition to an existing indemnity health policy.

    How to buy?

    Both these plans are available online as well as offline. You can buy them through the insurer’s website or an aggregator’s website after comparing the premium rates. 

    How to claim?

    Cashless claim facility is available under both the plans. For Corona Kavach you need to be hospitalised for at least 24 hours or more to make a claim. In case of Rakshak, however, hospitalisation of 72 hours or more is needed for an eligible claim. 

  3. Saral Jeevan Bima

    This is a standard term product that provides financial security. The plan offers a death benefit in the case of death during the policy tenure. Here’s a look at the plan’s features –

    • Flexible premium payment options are available. You can pay single premium, limited premium or regular premium
    • You can buy the plan in the age group of 18 to 65 years while coverage is allowed till 70 years of age.
    • The sum assured starts at INR 5 lakhs and there is no maximum limit
    • The plan does not pay any maturity benefit

    Relevance

    A term insurance plan is essential for financial security of your loved ones in your absence. Saral Jeevan Bima, therefore, provides financial security at affordable rates. If you are looking for a simple plan with pure risk protection, this can be a good choice.

    How to buy?

    Like the afore-mentioned health plans, Saral Jeevan Bima can also be bought online or offline. Buying through Turtlemint allows you to compare the premiums of different insurers. Since the plan’s features are same across insurers, comparison allows you to get the best rates.

    How to claim?

    If the insured dies, the nominee should inform the insurance company for getting claims. The claim form should be filled and submitted along with the death certificate of the insured and the identity proof of the nominee for claim settlement.

The bottom line

All these insurance plans are simple plans that offer the basic coverage at affordable premiums. They also allow you the benefit of premium comparison so that you get the best deal. So, assess your coverage needs and then invest in these plans for securing yourself financially.

Health Guide for Self-Care

COVID-19 has changed our life in the most drastic way possible. Navigation through this new normal is not always easy, whether it is isolating yourself, staying indoors, making children sit through the online classes, working from home with no household help, being away from loved ones etc. All this can take a toll on your health, both mental and physical. 

Every day we are dealing with new challenges. We are maintaining physical distance, washing our hands, staying indoors as much as possible, maintaining hygiene to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe against his pandemic. In such a scary scenario, it has been realised that self-care can make a great difference to our well-being.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care, according to the World Health Organisation, is “the behaviours you do to take care of your own health and can include hygiene, nutrition, leisure activities, sports, exercise, seeking professional healthcare services when needed, and much more.”

Self-care is not a luxury, it is an elementary part of this new normal life that we have been given. When the situation is out of our control, the best way to move forward is to accept the reality without dialling up stress levels. 

Self-Care In COVID Times

Over 1.63 crore Indians have received the coronavirus vaccine so far, and thankfully most recipients did not face any adverse effects. Soon, vaccination for people 18 years of age will also start. Here are some basic self-care tips that you can follow before and after your vaccination.

  • Build your Immunity

    Build your Immunity

    The first step to self-care is by building your immunity. And in order to build your immunity, you need to do a lot more than take your multivitamins.

    • Have a healthy Diet to Maintain a healthy Lifestyle

      Eat fresh, home cooked food that is full of proteins, green vegetables, fruits

    • Prefer foods that Build Immunity
      1. A piece of raw amla (gooseberry) in your mouth for an hour
      2. A spoonful of chawanprash
      3. Hot water, 3-5 glasses a day
      4. Turmeric tea
      5. Ayurvedic herbal tea
      6. Half a garlic clove
    • Vitamin Supplements

      Vitamin supplements can act as immunity boosters. They are available in forms of juices, tea, kadha, capsules, etc.

    • Exercises to build immunity

      Practise Pranayama, Yoga and meditation

    • Avoid Smoking, Alcoholic drinks

      As they tend to weaken the capacity of your lungs

    • A Positive Attitude

      A positive mindset is key to physical well being

    • Sleep for 7 to 8 hours

      An improved sleep recharges your mind and body

  • Staying Safe

    Staying Safe

    • Masking

      Having a mask on your face is not enough. Follow these mask etiquettes diligently:

      1. Wash your hands before touching the mask
      2. Cover your mouth and your nose
      3. Remove the mask holding the straps behind the ears

       Washing your hands

      Follow the simple 6-step process of washing your hands so that it is clean and free of virus.

    • Social Distancing Norms
      1. Wearing a mask in public is mandatory
      2. Try to maintain a distance of 6 feet between people
      3. If someone in the family is infected, wear masks at home too
      4. Avoid crowds
      5. Avoids spaces that are poorly ventilated
      6. Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Do’s and Don’ts of Social Hygiene

    Do’s and Don’ts of Social Hygiene

    Keep yourself well those around you safe. Follow these simple Rules:

    • Wash your hand regularly. Clean them with a sanitizer
    • While sneezing/ coughing use a handkerchief
    • If feeling unwell do not delay speaking to your doctor
    • Avoid meeting others if you are not feeling well
    • Spit in public

  • Respiratory Hygiene:

    Respiratory Hygiene
    Cover your mouth and nose keeping your elbow bent or with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. Dispose off the tissue immediately. Breathing exercises can greatly help in maintaining your oxygen levels. You can practise then in various positions:

    • Sitting cross-legged on the floor
    • Sitting in a chair
    • Sitting cross-legged on bed
  • Monitor your oxygen level:

    Monitor your oxygen level

    Normal level is between 94 – 100. If the oxygen drops below this, consult your doctor immediately. If you feel slightly breathless or your oxygen saturation is low, you could try self-proning. Try to spend 30 minutes on each:

    • Lay on your belly
    • Shift to your right side
    • Sit up with legs extended in front
    • Lay down on your left side
    • Lay down on your belly
  • Download the Aarogya Setu App

    Self Care Guidelines

    This mobile-base application ensures safety of the citizens from this disastrous disease. The app would highlight a hotspot or any high-risk areas. You can also check for symptoms associated with Covid in a few moments. To get started:

    • Download the app from PlayStore or AppStore
    • Allow location sharing and give access to bluetooth
    • Enter the OTP received on the mobile number
    • Fill in the required fields
    • Start the assessment test

Self Care Guidelines

Self Care Guidelines

  • Before Vaccination
    • If you are allergic to certain medicines, get an all-clear certificate from your doctor
    • Eat well and stay relaxed before the vaccination
    • Get a minimum of 6 -8 hours of sleep
    • Speak to your doctor if you are on regular medication
    • In case you are a diabetic or have BP issues, speak to your doctor before the vaccine
    • Cancer patients need to act only on their doctor’s advice
    • If you have been infected with Covid already, it is recommended that you avoid the vaccine for the next 2 months till you do an Antigen test and check with your doctor before taking the vaccine.
  • On the Day of Vaccination
    • Wear your mask, face shield and gloves 
    • Carry a sanitiser, keep using it
    • Wear loose clothes so that your upper arm is easily accessible
    • Stay hydrated, dehydration can cause fatigue and dizziness
    • Stay calm and have good, positive thoughts in mind
  • After Vaccination
    • Keep monitoring yourself for any side effects
    • Contact your doctor in case of vomiting, itching, fainting
    • It is better that you avoid alcohol the day you get your shot
    • Take your regular medication after consulting your doctor
    • Mark the Calendar for your Second dose

Self Care if You Get Infected With Covid

Self Care if You Get Infected With Covid

  • Symptoms: The common symptoms of Covid are
    1. Fever
    2. Dry Cough
    3. Tiredness
    4. Loss of smell or taste
    5. Sore Throat
    6. Headache
    7. Chills
    8. Nasal Congestion

    In case you think you have got infected with Covid, the first important thing is that you do not panic. Call your doctor or the Covid-10 helpline to find out where and when to get a Covid test. 

  • Severe Symptoms of Covid include
    1. Shortness of Breath
    2. Persistent chest pain or a feeling of pressure on the chest
    3. High fever
  • Quarantine Self-Care at Home

    If you do not have any severe symptoms, it is quite likely that your doctor would advise you to stay at home for 14 days. You would be asked to isolate yourself. Stay away from others and keep a check on your health. Follow the guidelines given below:

    1. Take a lot of rest
    2. Stay hydrated, drink lots of fluids such as 
    3. Water, nimbu-pani, fresh fruit juice, coconut water
    4. Use a “Steam Inhaler” to get relief from congestion 
    5. Drink warm/ hot drinks to get relief from sore throat
    6. Avoid spicy/ fried food. Eat healthy
    7. Keep washing your hands every hour or so, for 20 seconds at least
    8. Make use of a sanitizer at regular intervals
    9. After consulting your doctor, take Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen to reduce fever and body aches
  • Stay Away from Others

    If you are infected and are at home, follow these guidelines:

    1. Stay isolated in a room, away from all members and pets
    2. Wear a double face mask if you have to use a common room
    3. You must not share dishes, clothes, towels, bedsheets and utensils with other members
    4. After use, make sure you sanitise and clean hardware and surfaces
  • Stay Home Till the Time
    1. You haven’t had a fever for the past 72 hours/ 3 consecutive days at least
    2. You no longer show any common symptoms
    3. It has been a week since you showed your initial symptoms

Self Care Essentials During Covid

Self Care Essentials During Covid

Keeping an emergency home kit is extremely essential these days. Keep these items handy to keep yourself and your family members safe.

  1. A thermometer
  2. Oximeter, if possible (normal SpO2 levels are 94-100)
  3. Over the counter medicines such as 
    1. Paracetamol, 
    2. Cough Syrup, 
    3. Nasal Spray
    4. Vitamin B complex, C and D3
    5. Betadine gargle
    6. Karvol vapour
    7. Steam inhaler
    8. Hand gloves
  4. Make sure you have enough soap, sanitiser and detergent
  5. Keep disinfectant wipes at home
  6. Keep disposable/ washable masks and gloves marked for each member to avoid mixing
  7. Keep a first-aid kit with bandages, pain killer, anti-allergy medicines 
  8. Avoid having overly spicy food 
  9. Prefer warm drinks
  10. Keep a list of emergency numbers ready, that includes details of:
    1. Your Doctor
    2. Nearest Hospital
    3. Ambulance Service
    4. Family Members (In case you have young children at home)
    5. Write down important passwords
  11. In advance, keep one room allotted as the isolation room. Keep sheets, towels, toiletries dishes here, for anyone who is ill
  12. Loose clothes and hand towel
  13. Arogya Setu App

Self Care – Being In Isolation and Dealing With It

Self Care – Being In Isolation and Dealing With It

One of the major reasons that can cause anxiety and stress is staying in isolation. Being alone during such trying times can indeed destabilise your positivity. That is why self-care is so important. It includes all the practices that relate to your mood and thus, your mental and physical health. 

So how can one strike a balance, how can one cope with being in isolation? Here are some ideas that can occupy you when you are struggling:

  1. Sleep. It is one of the few things that always work
  2. Meditation and yoga would help you keep your sanity in place
  3. Start writing a journal or poetry. Years later when you read it you’ll be all smiles
  4. Pursue that hobby that you always wanted to, read a book, start to paint, take an online music class
  5. Call old friends and your relatives with the extra time at hand. Chatting and having zoom calls might be fun
  6. YouTube is filled with tutorials. You can learn a new skill or concept by going through the Tutorials of Turtlemint on YouTube
  7. Catch up on the shows or movies that you had missed earlier

Self Care During Work From Home 

Self Care During Work From Home

Remember the time when you had to wake up early, commute for an hour to give a presentation in the office. How you wished you could do it from home. How you wished you didn’t have to travel so much every day to reach the office. Well, the prayers have been answered, though in a very mysterious way. 

Work From Home is something that we couldn’t have comprehended in pre-Covid times, but it is now a reality we live with. It is probably a feasible solution that most companies and organisations could think of. If COVID-19 has forced you to become a Remote Worker or a Worker From Home, follow these tips to keep yourself motivated, cheerful and healthy. 

  1. Exercise

    Being regular in your workout has multiple benefits. Now that home is the office, you ought to be out of excuses. Walking around the house, aerobics or a cardio workout. Do anything, but do something

    • Use your commute time to work out
    • Steal a few minutes from between the meetings
    • If you can, Sweat it out with Workout Sessions, there are plenty on YouTube
    • Choose exercises that you can do while sitting:
      1. Body Fold
      2. Stretch
      3. Side Stretch

  2. Sleep Schedule

    When the lockdown first happened, most of us utilised the extra time by sleeping. And though it felt great in the beginning, over-sleeping tends to make you lethargic. Bedtime and wake time are one of the most important aspects of self-care. Avoid the temptation to take a long nap in the afternoon, and then binge-watch movies till late at night.

    Even when you don’t have a con-call in the morning, stick to your schedule. If you are free, go out to the balcony for a while, walk the dog, water the plants.

    • Set alarms for wake time as well as bedtime
    • Exercise
    • Put your phone away at least 30 minutes before sleep time
  3. Mind Your Eating Habits

    For many people, the working from home routine has been a major reason for not just overeating but unhealthy eating as well. Many of us enjoy munching on snacks while on a conference call. But keeping your nutrition in check is a very important aspect of self-care. Mindless eating will not wreak havoc on the waistline but can greatly sabotage your health.

    • Avoid working in/ around the kitchen
    • Plan your meals ahead, save yourself from snacking
    • Missing meals will make you eat at the wrong time
    • Prefer balanced and healthy food
    • Keep yourself hydrated
    • When you have a craving, drink water
    • Stay away from sugary foods and drinks
    • Don’t bring junk food home
    • Avoid eating with a screen, you would end up eating more
    • If you feel like munching, don’t eat from the bag. Portion it out before eating
  4. Stay Clean and Dress “Up” for Work

    You need to have a formal work schedule for working from home. Taking a shower and dressing “up” for work instead of working in your pyjamas would give you a sense of having a proper work schedule. You need to be in formal attire every day but at the same time don’t consider WFH an all-day pyjama fest. This simple act of being office-ready gives you a feel-good factor and is thus an important element of self-care.

    Prepare your brain that you are not on a holiday, you are not sick, you are simply Working from Home.

  5. Make Full Use of the Commute Time

    Remember, the long list of things you thought of doing while cursing the nerve-wracking traffic jam. Well, now is your opportunity to do just that. Use this time in the best possible way.

    • Sip your morning tea out on the balcony
    • Do some yoga for a while
    • Start a book
    • Meditate – you can’t go outside, but you can surely go inside
    • Listen to music while you do your chores
    • Use this extra time to network. Speak to clients, potential clients, etc.
    • Devote this extra time to develop your pipeline projects
  6. Designate a Workstation

    For many of us, our laptop is our office. Of late, we have started carrying it to the bedroom, on the bean bag, to the terrace and even in the loo! It would be helpful in designating a place entirely as your work area, as it helps your brain in preparing for the work.
    Also, make sure you pick a comfortable chair when you work.

    • Avoid slouching
    • Sitting in the right posture improves attention, energy and attitude
    • Keep your work area tidy
  7. Avoid Overworking
    Not overworking and over-exerting yourself simply means knowing when to stop. You can be as efficient during work hours as you want, but knowing when to shut down the laptop is important. This again is about ‘routine’. Answering a few more emails, making one or two phone calls might seem a small job, but can often take up more time than you expected and make you burn out.
    • Start winding up work fifteen minutes before your work time is over
    • Unless urgent, avoid starting a new assignment in the last half hour of work
  8. Find Some ME-Time

    Self-care and me-time have certain similarities, but they aren’t really the same. Me-Time simply means, a few minutes with yourself, alone.

    • Early morning or late at night, take out some time for yourself
    • Do nothing, just sit and relax
    • If you want to, Think. If you don’t, just let your mind wander

This too Shall Pass

Apart from taking care of yourself for the vaccination, it is imperative that you stay motivated and healthy. The future may often seem bleak, but like always, this too shall pass. Your emotional wellbeing is very important, now more than ever. It is indeed a time of anxiety and tension. However, we need to focus our energy and thoughts on things that make us feel happy and uplifted. It is important that you indulge in self-care that helps you in dealing with negative emotions. 

Self-care is not really a new concept. Our parents, grandparents were stern believers in self-care. It is not uncommon to see many senior citizens wanting to try their own tricks and treatments and unwilling to see a doctor unless it is a serious matter. Self-care basically means maintaining good health and coping with illnesses without the help of a healthcare worker. With COVID-19 forcing us to stay locked in our homes, we are rediscovering and learning the art of self-help.

COVID vaccine guide

Ever since the COVID vaccine was launched in January 2021, a new ray of hope has emerged. Though the infection is still not under control, the hope of a vaccine has created a positive environment in the country. Now, with the vaccine available for all adults, the Government of India has undertaken a massive vaccine drive. So, here’s everything that you need to know about the COVID vaccine. 

Types of vaccines

Currently, two COVID vaccines have been authorized by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) for use in India. These are as follows –

  • Covishield ® which is AstraZeneca’s vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India
  • Covaxin ® which has been manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited
  • Types of vaccines

Development of COVID vaccines

Ever since the COVID pandemic struck, India has been involved in launching a vaccine as soon as possible. As such, the two vaccines have been developed. The development of vaccines has been done in different phases which are explained below-

  1. Pre-clinical –
    vaccine is tested in lab animals
  2. Phase 1 –
    Clinical trial in limited participants to determine the right dosage
  3. Phase 2 –
    Clinical trial in a few hundred participants to check whether the vaccine generates an immune response
  4. Phase 3 –
    Clinical trial in thousands of participants over 1-2 years

thousands of participants

Both the vaccines have completed the first two phases of trials and Covishield has completed the third phase trial in the UK and the bridging trial in India.

Administration of COVID vaccine – the timeline

The Government of India introduced the vaccination in a phased manner. The vaccination drive started with frontline and healthcare workers who were at the highest risk of contracting the infection. Then it was percolated down in descending order for individuals with the highest risk of COVID. 

Here’s the timeline of how the vaccine drive was introduced by the Government of India in phases –

  • 16th January 2021
    • Both the vaccines were launched
    • They were available for healthcare workers and frontline workers
  • 1st March 2021
    • Persons aged 60+ eligible for the vaccine
    • Persons aged between 45 and 59 eligible if they have co-morbidities
  • 1st April 2021
    • Vaccine available for those who are aged 45+ years
  • 1st May 2021
    • Individuals aged 18+ become eligible for vaccination

Administration of COVID vaccine

Registration for vaccination

If you or any of your family members are eligible for availing of the vaccine, you would have to register yourself for the same. Registration is compulsory either in advance or on the spot. You can register online on the Co-WIN portal developed by the Government or on the COWIN or Aarogya Setu mobile applications.

Relevant Links: https://www.cowin.gov.in/home

Download the Arogya Setu App from PlayStore: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=nic.goi.aarogyasetu&hl=en_IN&gl=US

Or simply scan to download: https://www.mygov.in/aarogya-setu-app/

Benefits of registration

Here are some of the benefits of registering for the COVID vaccination –

  • You can enrol yourself and your family members for the vaccination
  • You can fix the time for availing of vaccination
  • You can choose the vaccination centre wherein you want to get vaccinated
  • You can also reschedule the vaccination date if you miss or are unable to visit the centre on the scheduled date
  • Your vaccination certificate would be shared with you when you are registered

Vaccination details

  • Vaccines would be given at both Government health centres and private health facilities. These are called COVID Vaccination Centres (CVC). 
  • In the case of vaccination in private CVCs, you have to register yourself prior to vaccination.
  • In the case of vaccination in Government health centres, a part of the slots would be reserved for online registration. However, the rest of the slots would allow walk-in or on-site registrations and appointments.
  • The appointment slots for any date would close at 12 pm a day before such date.

The process of registration 

Here is a step-by-step guide to register yourself and/or your family members on the COWIN portal for vaccination –

  • Visit www.cowin.gov.in and click on ‘Register / Sign In Yourself’
  • Development-of-COVID-vaccines

  • A new page would open wherein you would have to provide your mobile number for getting an OTP. Alternatively, you can sign in using the Arogya Setu or Umang application.
  • COWIN portal

  • Enter the OTP received for verification and to proceed with the registration
  • registration

  • A new ‘Registration for Vaccination’ page would open containing the fields which you need to fill with your information.
  • Registration-for-Vaccination

  • The information that should be provided includes –
    • The photo identity proof that you are submitting for registration
    • Number of the identity proof
    • Name
    • Gender
    • Birth year as in the identity proof
  • After the details are provided, click on ‘Register’ and you would be able to register yourself successfully.
  • You can, then, go into your account and check your details. You can also add up to four additional family members under a single registration
  • To add members, click on ‘Add More’ on your ‘Account Details’ page. Provide the information of the member (s) and the member (s) would be added

Appointment for vaccination

Once the registration process is complete, you can fix your appointment for vaccination. It can be done using the following steps –

  • On the ‘Account Details’ page, click on the ‘Schedule’ button next to the registered name to schedule an appointment.
  • Appointment for vaccination

  • You need to enter your PIN code or your district name to find the CVCs wherein vaccinations are available.
  • enter your PIN code

  • When you choose any centre, the available slots would be displayed for a particular date. It would also show the capacity of the respective slot.
  • displayed for a particular date

  • Choose a relevant and suitable date and fix your appointment
  • After you choose any slot, click on ‘Book’. An ‘Appointment Confirmation’ page would open that would show your name, date and time of appointment.
  • Click on ‘Confirm’ to confirm the details and your appointment would be booked.
  • You would, then, be able to see an ‘Appointment Successful’ page such as

Appointment Successful

Then you can download the Appointment Slip as well. The appointment slip has the details of the centre, date and time along with your name and your ID document with a registration ID.

appointment slip

The confirmation of your appointment is shared with you through an SMS that states the date, time and the centre of vaccination. Once you take the vaccination on the scheduled date, another date is automatically allotted for the second dose.

Rescheduling your appointment

If you want, you can reschedule your appointment any time before the appointed day. To do so, log in to the COWIN portal with your mobile number. Verify your account with an OTP. Thereafter, here are the steps for rescheduling the appointment –

  • Go into the ‘Account Details’ and click on the calendar icon to reschedule your appointment
  • Rescheduling your appointment

  • Choose a new date and then click ‘Book’ to reschedule 
  • Click on ‘Confirm’ and verify the date and appointment time
  • A new page would open showing that your appointment is rescheduled 

Booking the appointment through the Arogya Setu App

  1. You need to log in with your phone number and OTP
  2. phone number and OTP

  3. You can register up to 4 people with the ID, Photo ID Number, Beneficiary Name, Gender and Year of Birth
  4. register

  5. Once the registration is done, you need to schedule the appointment. Click on the same and schedule for vaccination
  6. You can search by Pincode and Date to find the nearby vaccination centre
  7. vaccination centre

  8. Check and confirm the time and availability of the vaccination
  9. availability of the vaccination

  10. Confirm the time slot and then click proceed
  11. click proceed

  12. Then the appointment details would reflect and you need to confirm the appointment
  13. confirm the appointment

  14. The appointment details would reflect in your App. 

Documents needed for vaccination

You need to provide identity proof that would be required for registering for vaccination. Some of the acceptable identity proofs include the following –

  • Acceptable identity proofs:
    • Aadhaar card
    • Driving License
    • PAN Card
    • Passport
    • Voter ID Card
    • Bank passbook

    Documents needed for vaccination

    Besides these, you can also provide the following as identity proofs –

  • MNREGA Job Card
  • Health insurance Smart Card that has been issued under the scheme launched by the Ministry of Labour
  • Any official identity card which is issued to MPs, MLAs, or MLCs
  • Any pension-related document
  • A service identity card issued by the Government to Government employees

What is Comorbidity?
If multiple health conditions are present in a person, it is known as comorbidity. So, if you have hypertension or diabetes, etc. and then have Covid-19, then hypertension or diabetes are considered as comorbidities along with Covid-19.

Furthermore, if you have any comorbidity, you would have to carry a certificate of comorbidity, filled and signed by a registered medical practitioner. The certificate of comorbidity should be filled in the format provided in the link: Certificate of comorbidity.

Once the vaccination is done, you would get a digital certificate certifying the completion of the vaccination. A provisional certificate would be issued after the first dose and once the second dose is completed, you would get a QR code-based final certificate. You can, then, download the certificate for your use.

Dosage for the vaccine

After the first dose of the Covishield vaccine is taken the second vaccine should be taken within the next four to eight weeks. In the case of the Covaxin vaccine, the second dose should be taken within four to six weeks after the first dosage.

In case of people diagnosed or suspected of COVID infection are required to wait for 14 days for taking the vaccine. On the other hand, if you have recovered from COVID you should wait for at least four to eight weeks to get the vaccination.

The body takes about two to three weeks to develop an adequate immune response to COVID after both the doses of the vaccine are taken.

Side effects of the vaccine

Like other vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin have side effects too. These include the following –

  • Mild fever
  • Pain or irritation at the site of the injection
  • Mild fever
  • Irritability 

To deal with these side effects, you can take paracetamol.

Cost of the vaccine

The cost of COVID vaccines is different for the different types of medicines. Moreover, the cost also varies depending on the COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) that you choose. Here are the costs –

  1. For individuals aged between 18 and 45 years 
    • Covishield Vaccine – For State Government INR 400 and for private hospitals INR 600
    • Covaxin Vaccine – For State Government INR 600 and for private hospitals INR 1200

    However, many State Governments are offering free vaccines at Government health centres. These States include the following –

    • Kerala
    • Haryana 
    • Madhya Pradesh
    • Goa
    • Jammu and Kashmir
    • Telangana 
    • Uttar Pradesh
    • Bihar 
    • West Bengal
    • Sikkim
    • Assam
    • Tamil Nadu
    • Andhra Pradesh 
    • Chattisgarh 
    • Maharashtra
  2. For others 

    Healthcare workers, frontline workers and individuals aged beyond 45 years can get free vaccinations at Government healthcare centres.

Source: Economic Times & Bloombergquint

So, understand everything about the COVID vaccines and register yourself for the vaccination if you are eligible for the same.

How the Standardisation of Health Insurance Plans can lead to Increased Premium?

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) made several standardisations in health insurance plans. These standardisations were done with three main objectives –

  1. To make health insurance plans easy to understand 
  2. To make health insurance plans comprehensive in their scope of coverage 
  3. To increase the penetration of health insurance in India

The first two objectives aimed to make health insurance more customer-friendly so that the coverage needs of individuals are duly fulfilled. The third objective was aimed to make health insurance an important part of everyone’s financial portfolios.

Though these standardisations have improved the benefit structure under health insurance plans, in many cases they have given rise to increased premiums. However, before analysing the reason for the increase in premium, here’s a quick look at the main standardisations that were implemented in health insurance plans –

  • Standardised policy wordings for common coverage benefits
  • Coverage for mental illnesses, modern treatments and robotic surgeries
  • Coverage for developmental ailments and learning difficulties, for example, dyslexia
  • Standardisation of free-look period across all plans, payment of penal interest if claim payment is delayed, clauses of portability and migration, grievance redressal and renewal
  • Complete disclosure of information by the insurance company
  • A standardised proportionate deductible clause in case of room rent limit
  • Coverage for telemedicine
  • Standardised Arogya Sanjeevani Policy

All these standardisations have made health insurance plans more exhaustive in their scope of coverage. 

Reasons for the increase in premium

With these standardisations, health insurance premiums have undergone a change and have increased for many policyholders. Following are some of the reasons for such an increase –

  • Wider coverage

    As insurance plans are offering a wider scope of coverage, the premiums for the policies have increased. If you buy a modern-day health plan or port to one, you would have to pay an additional premium for availing of a comprehensive scope of coverage where modern and robotic treatments and telemedicine are also covered.

  • Higher claim experience 

    Due to standardisations, health insurance plans have become more inclusive in their coverage. So, as new and advanced policies are being designed to include the standardisations mandated by the IRDAI, insurance companies face a higher probability of claims. So, to make the plans financially feasible and profitable, health insurers have to increase the premium rates.

How does it impact you?

As a customer, your premium outgo would increase as premiums are hiked across policies. However, you are also getting the benefit of wider coverage from the health plan. In fact, the scope of coverage far outweighs the marginal increase in premium that has been observed. 

Moreover, since health insurance plans now allow instalment premiums, thanks to IRDAI’s directive, you can bear the premiums easily, without hurting your pockets. So, a wider scope of coverage with the facility of instalment premium is a win-win situation even if there is a premium hike.

Also, comparison across different health insurance plans has become easy with standardised terms and conditions and coverage benefits. You can, therefore, compare different plans on their coverage parameters and premium rates and choose the most comprehensive policy with the most reasonable rate of premium.

The bottom line

Under IRDAI’s regulation, health insurance plans would evolve further. The associated premiums might also undergo a change as health plans become more inclusive. Don’t be afraid of a premium hike because the coverage offered would have a higher value proposition compared to the hike. So, enjoy the modern-day health insurance plans with comprehensive features and get covered against unexpected medical emergencies on better terms.

ULIPs can now attract tax. Find out how

Life insurance plans are a great tax saving tool. Besides providing financial security against the risk of premature death, life insurance plans allow you to save tax on the premium that you pay as well as earn tax-free benefits. Unit linked insurance plans provide investors with a good mix of investment returns, insurance coverage and tax-saving benefits. However, in the latest Union Budget 2021, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman, made ULIPs taxable in certain cases. Do you know the latest tax implication on ULIPs?

Before we jump to the new changes, let’s brush up on the existing tax benefits that ULIPs provided policyholders –

  • Tax benefit under Section 80C

    Premiums paid towards ULIPs, except pension ULIPs, are allowed as a tax-free deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The maximum deduction available under this Section is INR 1.5 lakhs.

  • Tax benefit under Section 80CCC

    Premiums paid towards a deferred pension ULIP plan are allowed as a deduction under this Section. The limit is INR 1.5 lakhs that includes the limit under Section 80C as well.

  • Tax benefit under Section 10(10A)

    On maturity of a deferred pension ULIP plan, you can withdraw up to 60% of the accumulated corpus in lump sum. Technically, this withdrawal is called the commutation of pension. Up to 33% of the withdrawn corpus is allowed as a tax-free benefit under this Section.

  • Tax benefit under Section 10(10D)

    This section is relevant for maturity proceeds received from the ULIP plan. If the premium that you paid for the policy did not exceed 10% of the sum assured (20% for policies issued on or before 31st March 2012), the maturity proceeds would be tax-free. 

    Besides these benefits, partial withdrawals, premium redirections and switching are also tax-free under ULIPs.

What has changed?

A new provision has been introduced in the Union Budget 2021 regarding the taxation of ULIPs. As per the new rule, if the aggregate premium exceeds INR 2.5 lakhs, ULIPs would attract long term equity taxation. That means, if the returns earned from ULIPs exceed INR 1 lakh, the excess returns would be taxed @10% under Section 112A of the Income Tax Act, 1961. If the ULIP is held for less than 12 months, the returns earned would be considered a short-term capital gain and would be taxed @15%. That being said, since ULIPs have a lock-in period of five years, short term capital gains would become irrelevant. 

Here are some important rules to remember with respect to the latest tax implication on ULIPs –

  1. The new tax rule would be applicable on new plans that you buy on or after 1st February 2021. For existing unit linked plans, the rule would not be applicable and you can enjoy full tax benefits
  2. If you invest in multiple unit linked plans, the aggregate premium of all the plans would be considered against the threshold limit of INR 2.5 lakhs
  3. The death benefit would always be tax-free irrespective of the premium amount
  4. The new tax rule would be applicable only on the maturity benefit
  5. The tax benefit on premium would be allowed under Section 80C and 80CCC

So, the next time you are investing in ULIPs and you are paying a high premium, remember the new tax rules to assess your tax liability on maturity. Also, remember that your premiums would still be allowed as a deduction and so, you can invest in ULIPs for saving taxes on the amount you invest. Invest in ULIPs, despite the tax implication, because you can earn investment returns while at the same time enjoying insurance coverage, a benefit that is not available under other investment avenues.

Buying Health Insurance? Use this checklist

Buying a health insurance policy is important to face the rising medical costs. Thankfully, this awareness is slowly spreading across the Indian population and people are investing in health insurance plans for financial protection. However, when it comes to buying health insurance, buying the right policy is important so that the policy delivers on your expectations. Your health insurance purchase decision should, therefore, be backed by careful consideration and research. 

For simplifying the health insurance purchase process, here is a complete checklist which can guide you to buy the right plan –

  • Choosing the right type of policy

    Health insurance plans come in different variants. As such, the first step is to pick the right type of plan. Here are some tips to do so –

    • If you don’t have health insurance coverage at all, buy a family floater health insurance plan. 
    • If you have a health plan but the coverage is low, you can opt for super top-up health insurance plans. These plans would help in increasing your coverage at affordable premiums
    • Critical illness health insurance plans are also essential as they pay a lump sum benefit in a critical illness. Add these plans to your portfolio for added protection
  • Opt for an optimal sum insured

    After deciding on the type of policy, the next step is to choose an optimal sum insured. Remember that the health plan would cover you only up to the chosen sum insured. Given the high medical expenses, a high sum insured is essential. If the high premiums make a high sum insured difficult to avail of, go for super top-up plans and supplement your coverage. Whatever you do, ensure that your coverage is sufficient to cover the expensive medical treatments.

  • Cover all the family members

    The next step is to ensure that all family members are being covered under the health insurance policy. Don’t leave any member out. For parents, opt for a separate senior citizen policy. Do not include them in your family floater policy as it would drive up the premium and eat into the no claim bonus. Moreover, a separate plan would also give you additional tax benefits. So, buy a floater plan covering yourself, spouse and dependent children and another plan for your parents.

  • Check the coverage benefits

    You should ensure that the health insurance plan has all the necessary coverage features that you and your family needs. If, for instance, you would are planning to have a child in the near future, ensure that the plan allows maternity coverage. Similarly, if there are frequent consultations and outpatient treatments, check for OPD coverage. The plan’s coverage benefits should suit your coverage requirements so that all possible medical costs get covered.

    Also, health plans allow optional coverage benefits too called riders or add-ons. Check the riders available in the plan. If the riders are suitable to your needs, add them to your basic plan for an enhanced coverage. For example, if you want coverage against critical illnesses and the plan offers the critical illness rider, choose the rider and get covered against critical illnesses. Similarly, the maternity cover can also be offered as a rider which you can choose if you would be planning a family in future.

  • Check for coverage sub-limits

    Many health plans impose a sub-limit or restriction on their coverage benefits. The most common example is the room rent sub-limit. These sub-limits restrict the scope of coverage and incur out-of-pocket expenses. So, check the sub-limits applicable under the plan. Try and avoid plans with sub-limits, especially in case of room rent. Except room rent sub-limit, if there are other limits in the plan, like limit on ambulance cost, domiciliary treatments, AYUSH coverage, etc., check the extent of such limits. The higher the limit, the wider would be the scope of coverage.

  • Check the no claim bonus and health check-up benefit

    Health plans allow no claim bonus if no claim is made in a policy year. This bonus can either be an increase in the sum insured or a reduction in the renewal premium. Check the bonus allowed. Try and opt for cumulative bonus which increases the sum insured free of cost.

    Moreover, free health check-ups are also allowed either annually or after 2-4 continuous years. Look for the limits of such check-ups and their frequency.

  • Check the hospital list

    For cashless claims you need to take treatments in a networked hospital. So, when buying health insurance, consider the hospital network list. Ensure that the hospitals in your city and locality are featured on the list so that you can avail easy cashless settlements in emergencies.

  • Check the exclusions

    Knowing what is covered under the plan is not enough. You need to know what is not covered as well. Check the exclusion list of the policy to find out what the policy won’t cover. Check the pre-existing waiting period, especially if you or any family member suffers from a pre-existing condition, to know when such conditions would be covered by the plan.

  • Compare the premium

    Lastly, compare the premium charged by different health insurance plans when buying. Compare the premiums vis-à-vis the coverage benefits to ensure that you don’t miss out on the coverage while seeking out the lowest premium. Choose a plan which offers the widest scope of coverage at the lowest premium rate.

Tick off all the above-mentioned points when buying a health insurance policy. The checklist would ensure that you get a right policy which would cover you against medical eventualities. After all, if the plan is right, you get complete financial security, don’t you?

Will your Health Insurance policy cover the cost of COVID 19 Vaccine?

After almost a year of battling with the Coronavirus pandemic the vaccine for the illness has become a reality. Although the vaccine rollout program is still in its nascent stages, the road ahead is positive. Institutes and companies like Bharat Biotech, Pfizer and Serum Institute of India have already applied for the authorization to sell their vaccines in the market while the vaccine being developed by Zydus would be available by the end of the year 2021. Frontline warriors have already begun getting the vaccine shot and senior citizens have been registered for the same. What about the cost of such vaccination? Would it be covered under your health insurance policy?

If you are looking for a generic answer, the answer is ‘No’. The cost of vaccination forms a part of OPD expenses which are not covered by most health insurance policies, even COVID-specific health insurance plans. However, this is not the universal answer. In some cases the cost of the vaccination can be covered under the health insurance policy. Let’s find out how –

Case 1 – If vaccination is a part of inpatient hospitalization

If you are hospitalized for COVID and you get the vaccination shot as a part of treatment of the illness, the vaccination would be considered to be a part of your inpatient hospitalization treatment. In such cases, all health insurance plans would cover the cost of the vaccine.

Case 2 – If your policy has an OPD cover or you opted for one

Another situation in which the cost of the vaccine would be covered under your health insurance policy would be if you have OPD coverage in your health insurance plan. Though most health insurance plans do not allow coverage for OPD expenses, many policies have an inbuilt OPD coverage benefit. Moreover, many plans offer OPD coverage as an optional additional benefit. So, if your plan has OPD coverage as an inbuilt benefit or you have paid an additional premium to avail OPD coverage under the plan, the cost of vaccination would be covered.

However, under OPD coverage, here are a few points that you should remember –

  • Plans with inbuilt OPD coverage might have higher premiums
  • If you opt for OPD cover as an add-on, the premium would be increased
  • OPD coverage is allowed up to a certain limit. If the cost of the vaccine is higher than the allowed coverage limit, you would incur out-of-pocket expenses

What should you do?

Check the coverage of your health insurance plan. If you are opting for elective vaccination and your plan does not have OPD coverage, you would have to bear the cost of the vaccine. Even if the plan has OPD coverage, check the coverage limit as you might incur additional costs on the vaccine. If, on the other hand, you are hospitalized for COVID and you get vaccinated, your health insurance plan would cover the cost of the vaccine. 

So, the coverage for the cost of the vaccine depends on your health insurance plan and when is the vaccine administered. Even if the cost is not covered in your health insurance policy, it would not be too considerable to be affordable. Getting vaccinated against the pandemic is important, even if you have to pay from your pockets, isn’t it?

Do you know about the Customer Friendly Initiatives IRDAI took in 2020?

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) keeps the interests of policyholders in mind when framing regulations. The apex body continuously tries to make positive changes in insurance policies so that you can benefit from better coverage. In 2020 also IRDAI made many changes, some specific to the COVID pandemic and others for making insurance policies more consumer-friendly. Let’s have a look at some of the main initiatives undertook by IRDAI in 2020 –

The ‘Sandbox’ initiative 

Innovation and invention are needed so that insurance policies meet the new-age demands of customers. However, launching innovative products can prove financially challenging for insurance companies, especially if their products do not become popular. So, to promote innovation while keeping the cost-factor in control, IRDAI has launched the ‘Sandbox’ initiative. This initiative is for innovations in insurance. Under this initiative, insurance companies can test-launch pilot products providing specific benefits. For example, the ‘Pay-As-You-Drive’ motor insurance policy was launched under the ‘Sandbox’ initiative. The plans launched under the ‘Sandbox’ initiative are offered for a limited period of time. If, within that time, they become popular, insurance companies can launch a full-fledged policy. The ‘Sandbox’ initiative, therefore, promotes insurance companies to experiment and offers you, the customer, new benefits.

Health insurance initiatives

The widespread pandemic increased the importance of a health insurance policy. Individuals having health insurance plans started depending on their policies more than before and those who were uninsured bought health insurance to cover the medical bills if COVID came knocking. Amidst the uncertainty in this crisis, IRDAI issued many directives to insurance companies to make their health insurance policies customer-centric. Some of these directives are as follows –

  • Handling of health insurance claims

    To ensure that policyholders got their health insurance claims settled easily during the pandemic, IRDAI asked insurers to expedite their claim settlement process. Moreover, it urged insurance companies not to reject their claims unless under unavoidable circumstances. 

  • Launch of COVID specific health plans

    COVID hospitalisation incurred a considerable consumables cost, cost which is excluded from normal health insurance policies. Due to this exclusion, policyholders were facing considerable out-of-pocket expenses if they were hospitalised due to COVID. To solve the financial dilemma of COVID infection, IRDAI introduced two new health insurance plans, especially for COVID. Corona Kavach was launched as an indemnity policy covering all hospitalisation costs without any deductibles. Corona Rakshak, on the other hand, was launched as a fixed benefit plan which paid a lump sum if you were hospitalised for 72 hours or more due to COVID. Both these policies have solved the health insurance needs of individuals at low premiums and comprehensive coverage. They have also become the most popular plans as the pandemic is still threatening a large number of people.

  • Introduction of wellness benefits in health insurance plans

    IRDAI has also asked insurance companies to offer wellness related benefits to their policyholders as a part of their health insurance policies. With this initiative, you would be rewarded for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, exercising and also for staying fit. This would, therefore, promote healthy living. Moreover, it would also benefit insurance companies because when the policyholders become healthy, the claim experience would be favourable.

Life insurance initiatives

Even in the life insurance segment, IRDAI made two major changes which are as follows –

  • Launch of Saral Jeevan Bima

    Term insurance is the most basic type of life insurance policy and yet modern day term plans have a comprehensive benefit structure with multiple layers. This confuses an average policyholder and makes it challenging to choose a suitable policy. To standardize the humble term plan, IRDAI has introduced the Saral Jeevan Bima policy. This would be a standard policy offering a standard coverage that would also be affordable. The policy would come into effect from 1st January 2021 and is expected to make buying term insurance easier.

  • Introduction of online KYC

    Earlier, physical signatures were necessary on the proposal form so that its authenticity can be proved. However, with social distancing norms still in place, buying and selling of insurance plans was becoming difficult. The IRDAI, therefore, introduced the concept of online KYC wherein physical signatures have been replaced with online ones. Now, you don’t have to physically sign the proposal form to buy the policy. The KYC verification can now be done through OTPs, digital signature or through an authentication link sent to your email ID. This has made buying and selling life insurance easier.

Motor insurance initiatives

In the motor insurance segment there was only one change. IRDAI removed the concept of long term own damage coverage. With effect from 1st August 2020, only third party coverage is available for a long term period and that too only for new vehicles. Own damage cover can be taken on an annual basis only making it cheaper and more transparent with respect to the no claim bonus that you can get.

All these changes are positive changes which have made insurance more accessible, more relevant and also more useful. While you can find the solution for your insurance needs much more easily, insurance companies can also benefit from a rise in popularity of their insurance plans. Moreover, with these changes, insurance penetration is also expected to increase. A win-win for all, isn’t it?

Importance of Health Insurance at Young Age

When you are young you feel that you don’t need health insurance plans as you are free from health issues and are not even likely to contract any in the near future. But are you correct in your thinking?

Health insurance plans are important even in younger ages, not only when you are in your middle ages. In fact, if the COVID infection is any indicator, people in the young age groups are not immune from the threat. As per the data published by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), people in the age group of 21 and 30 years accounted for more than 22.33% of COVID cases in India. Have a look –

Importance of Health Insurance

As you can see, the highest percentages of cases are in the age groups of 21-30 and 31-40 years. Do you still think that you don’t need health insurance when you are young?

Youngsters today are more health conscious. They opt for balanced diets, exercise, Yoga and healthy living to maintain their health. However, despite their attention to their health, illnesses and accidents don’t come announced. Increasing level of work-related stress, dependence on junk food and, of course, the COVID threat all point towards the necessity of a health insurance policy. 

Moreover, when you buy a health insurance policy at a younger age, you get the following benefits –

  1. Comprehensive coverage

    When you are young and healthy you can buy a comprehensive health insurance policy since insurers do not impose coverage restrictions for young individuals.

  2. Waiting out the pre-existing waiting period

    When you are young, chances are that you don’t have pre-existing illnesses. As such, when you buy a health insurance policy, you can easily wait out the applicable waiting period for pre-existing illnesses. Then, when you actually suffer from any illness in later years, you can avail instant coverage since the waiting period is already over.

  3. Earning no claim bonus

    Under a health insurance plan, every year that you don’t make a claim, your sum insured increases by a specific percentage through no claim bonus. This helps you in increasing the sum insured by 50% or 100% of the original amount and gives higher coverage at the same premium with NCB. When you are young, you are less likely to make claims thereby accumulating the no claim bonus which would give you a wider coverage under the plan.

  4. Tax benefits on the policy

    Let’s not forget the tax advantage which your health insurance policy would provide. The premium that you pay for the health insurance policy would allow you a deduction on your taxable income up to INR 25, 000 under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Thus, the policy would not only provide coverage against sudden illnesses or injuries, it would also help you save taxes.

  5. Financial security

    The last reason why health insurance plans make sense is the financial security that they provide. With a health insurance policy you can be secured that any medical contingency, however unforeseen, would not impact your finances. Given that you are young and might have limited savings, a health plan gives you the necessary financial security against medical emergencies. You can, then, plan for other financial goals and ensure that planning for such goals does not get impacted in a medical emergency. 

Modern day millennials have become smart about their finances and investing in a health insurance plan is another smart decision which you should take. Emergencies might disrupt your well-laid plans but when you have a health insurance policy in your armour, you can face medical emergencies without any strain.