India-based Max Bupa Health Insurance conducted a survey of 1,700 respondents, which revealed that before the Covid-19 outbreak only 10 per cent of people surveyed were interested in buying health insurance, whereas now 71 per cent consider health insurance as a necessity to mitigate unforeseen health risks such as Covid-19.
Max Bupa conducted two surveys across 11 major Indian markets: one on February (as a pre-Covid reference point) and one in May (as a post-Covid reference point). What’s more, it appears that an increased number of millennials (people aged 27 to 35 years) in India have been spurred to make enquiries about health insurance (63 per cent compared to 59 per cent at the early stage of detection of Covid-19 cases in the country), if for no other reason than to save on medical costs.
Max Bupa’s survey also uncovered that women are now at the forefront of taking financial decisions, with around 62 per cent of females having enquired about coverage for Covid-19 in health plans compared to 54 per cent of males – this trend was more prominently visible across key cities, including Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Lucknow. In addition, the survey also highlighted that around 58 per cent of the respondents made enquiries to understand coronavirus coverage in existing and intended health covers, and that 73 per cent are willing to pay higher premiums in the next one or two months to get coverage for Covid-19.
“Covid-19 has brought a paradigm shift in people’s mindset. Coronavirus has led to an increased awareness amongst people about the importance and benefits of health insurance during a pandemic situation like Covid-19. There has been a remarkable shift in the mindset of people before and after Covid-19, as, earlier, only 10 per cent [of] people were interested in purchasing [a health insurance plan,” the health insurer said.
Max Bupa’s findings come at a moment of ample opportunity for insurers in the Indian market, as the Financial Express reports a surge in demand for insurance coverage among India’s middle class, and WhatsApp and Amazon clamour to get a piece of the pie.
In terms of new health insurance offerings, following IRDAI’s encouragement, Canara bank in India has tied up with three insurance companies - New India Assurance, Bajaj Allianz General and HDFC Ergo Health – to sell the recently launched low-cost (premiums from as low as US$4), short-term, indemnity-based Corona Kavach insurance policy, which provides individuals cover for Covid-19-related health expenses.
Commenting on the new Corona Kavach plans, Beatriz Benito, Senior Insurance Analyst at GlobalData, said: “Corona Kavach plans have appealed the most to younger adults given their affordability, coupled with the lower uptake of health insurance policies than other cohorts of the population. An advantage of Corona Kavach policies is simplification, with IRDAI dictating that these plans offer uniform features, terms and conditions among different insurers.
"The sustained spread of the virus coupled with a rise in fatality rates in India will continue to generate demand for health insurance products. Awareness of the treatment costs related to Covid-19 will further contribute to a greater uptake and will encourage younger adults to take out a health insurance policy for the first time. In addition, the pandemic is expected to shape customers’ attitudes towards private health insurance.”