A health insurance policy has become a very essential requirement in today’s age when diseases are becoming so common. The high healthcare costs necessitate having a health insurance plan in order to protect our pockets from the brunt of medical expenses. As people are becoming more aware of the importance of a health insurance policy, insurers are offering different types of health plans. Each plan has a unique feature which separates it from the rest. In a melee of so many health insurance plans, can you select the best one for yourself?
Though you might look at the coverage features and the premium of a health insurance policy, you might still make a mistake while buying the health plan because of its complicated nature. Moreover, when it comes to buying a health insurance plan, you have different channels through which you can buy the plan. There is your regular agent or a more professional broker at your service. Then there is the online platform where insurance companies sell health insurance plans directly to you or through web aggregators. With so many modes of buying a health plan, can you be fooled when buying the plan? Yes, you can be. No matter which buying channel you choose, there are areas where you might falter. Let us have a look at such areas corresponding to different health insurance buying channels:
Independent Insurance brokers
NBFCs, web based firms and even other private firms act as brokers for health insurance companies. As brokers, they deal in plans offered by multiple companies and hence can provide more options. When buying from them, here’s how you can be fooled:
- They may not always mention the limiting features of the policy.
When you buy a health plan from brokers, they would tell you all about the plan benefits. However, the health plan also has some restrictive clauses like waiting period, limits on expenses, etc.; which might not be told to you. Since your health plan would cover your medical expenses based on the plan’s terms and conditions, such restrictive features, if not revealed, can easily fool you.
- They may not tell you the importance of on-time renewals and No Claim Bonus (NCB) benefits.
In any year when you have a health plan and do not make a claim therein, you are entitled to a No Claim Bonus (NCB). This NCB is cumulative in nature and increases each subsequent claim-free year. This NCB is available only when you renew your health plan without any break. Brokers may not mention this renewability benefit. Being unaware of the continuity benefit, you can lose out on your plan’s NCB and be fooled.
- They may not educate you on your plan’s claim process
Another point where brokers might fool you is on the claim process of your plan. Brokers usually promise assistance at the time of a claim and as such might not educate you on the claim settlement process. Thus, you become completely dependent on brokers for helping you at times of a claim and if for any reasons, they do not respond on time, you might face difficulties in getting your claim settled.
Agents typically sell products from only a particular insurance company. You usually entertain agents if they are trustworthy and you are acquainted with them. While you can benefit from some professional assistance, there are areas where even your trustworthy agent might fool you. Let’s find out what these areas are:
- Does the agent tell you that your plan has a list of exclusions?
Every health insurance plan has a list of exclusions or uncovered risks. Your agent may overlook and avoid mentioning these exclusions, fearing you might not buy the plan altogether. Here you would be fooled because when you make a claim in your health plan, you may be forced to bear the expenses yourself based on the plan’s exclusions.
- Does the agent give you the option of plans from other companies?
As mentioned earlier, the health insurance marketplace offers a wide range of plans. However, your agent represents only one insurance company. As such, your agent would not tell you of other health plans which might be better and also cheaper than the plan offered by him. You might, thus, be fooled to settle on your agent’s plan when there are other better plans available in the market. Moreover, you might end up paying a higher premium since your agent cannot offer you cheaper plans from other companies.
- Your agent may convince you to settle on a smaller coverage.
Agents may fear that if they tell you to buy a higher coverage you might not part with the higher premium. Thus, they may convince you to buy a smaller coverage to ensure a sale. For instance, when you are buying a family floater cover, a higher coverage is always advised. The agent might not tell you the importance of a higher cover and sell you a cover with the lowest premium to motivate you to buy the plan. However, this cover may not be sufficient. Instead, your coverage should be selected based on your requirements, the number of members covered and the increasing medical expenses.
Is the online platform foolproof?
Online web aggregators and comparison portals have now become a popular choice to buy a health insurance plan. However, even on the online marketplace you can be fooled. Here’s how:
- Internet is a public space
Online insurance quotes are available for free and can help you find the right health policy by comparing the quotes. However, be careful while dealing with the online channel. Make sure the website you select is a secured site before disclosing any personal information.
- While a little knowledge is dangerous, too much is confusing!
You can also find every information about different health plans online. This bulk of information has one effect. Rather than educating you, such huge information might actually fool you.
How to avoid being fooled
Despite the pros and cons, you will have to use one of the above sources for buying insurance. Buying insurance is as important as buying a house or a car, but good research and information is definitely required to avoid being fooled. One should evaluate all the options and after being satisfied with the information collected, opt for what suits the best as per requirements. Find out here to understand how to compare health insurance plans.
Your health insurance buying experience would be pleasant only when you are sure that you got the best plan at the best rates. So, educate yourself and be vigilant when you buy a health insurance plan.
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