Online health Insurance becoming more popular
Health insurance continues to be mostly a product that is bought offline. But according to a study, younger policyholders (age group of 25-44 years) and those in metros are more likely to buy online.
The study covered 601 Indian consumers, who said they had purchased new health insurance policies in the past 5 years. Respondents included only those who made the final decision and purchased their health insurance policy themselves.
About 30% in the 25-34 years age group said they bought their health insurance policies online—insurer’s website, bank’s website or through an online aggregator. This is not very far from the most common way of buying—through an offline agent or broker (33% for this age group). But filling the application form seems to be a hurdle. About 64% said they took the help of the agent or broker or the bank to fill the form. Only about a third, 35%, said they filled the form themselves.
Buying online and filling the application without the help of an agent are positive signs, but the veracity of the information provided is poor. Income, marital status, gender, age, family medical history, employment status, and health claims history are more likely to be excluded or misreported. This trend is more in the 25-34 age group, and those with poor health.
“While there is rapid increase in adoption and use of tech devices, there is an equally strong factor that consumers don’t provide adequate data to insurers during the policy applications and claims processes,” said Shivakumar Shankar, managing director-India, LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
The urge to mis-represent information is so strong that people do not want to give correct details even if it can mean lower premiums. For example, only about half of the respondents (51%) said they would be ‘very willing’ to share their personal health check-up reports, even if it meant better coverage or lower premium.
The main reasons seem to be the concern that disclosing certain details will lead to claims being denied, or further testing. “The alarming fact that nearly 7 in 10 respondents stated that they would be open to omitting or misreporting information… should be of great concern. The trust deficit between an insurer and a policyholder must be reduced as quickly as possible,” said Shankar. He added that simplifying processes, standardizing and minimizing exclusions and deeper engagements with agents could lead to more accurate disclosures.
Edited excerpts from 2017 India Consumer Insurance Study–Health Insurance