The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has permitted insurers to collect health insurance premium in instalments. It can be a permanent or temporary feature, says regulator

In view of prevailing conditions owing to the COVID-19 outbreak and considering the need to ease premium payments, all insurers are allowed to collect health insurance premiums in instalments, the regulator said.

Insurers have the option of offering the facility either as a permanent feature or as a temporary relief for 12 months (one policy year) in respect of all health insurance policies due for renewal up to March 31, 2021, general manager (health) D.V.S. Ramesh said. The enabling provisions for insurers to add premium payment frequency options for individual health insurance products, that is, to allow customers to pay premium in instalments, were announced by IRDAI in September.It had directed the insurers providing the instalment payment facility had to ensure that there is no change in basic premium table. The mode to be added may be monthly, quarterly or half yearly, but the premium should remain consistent across all the modes, it had said.

Specific products

The latest communication left it to the insurers, as they deem appropriate, the specific products on which they would like extend the facility of payment in instalments. In doing so, however, they should comply with the guidelines issued in September.

The IRDAI directed insurers to publish on their websites the availability of the facility, the products for which it is being extended and details, including conditions. “Specific consent of having agreed to the conditions shall be obtained from the policyholders,” IRDAI told insurers.

Health business head of Policybazaar.com Amit Chhabra said IRDAI direction to the insurers will help consumers as well increase health insurance penetration from a long term perspective. “However, we should keep in mind that the tenure of installment, be it one year or forever, will depend on the insurance company and the monthly mode payment would also be subject to the IT preparedness at the insurer’s end,” he said in a statement.