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Insurance Details

Preparing for uncertainties

Kripananda Chidambaram / Mumbai 15 Feb 13 | 12:24 PM

There are two areas of uncertainty in life that you need to make provisions for to avoid financial shock in the event of the unfortunate happening. We are talking about health insurance and contingency reserve. If you are caught by these events unprepared the financial costs of dealing with them can be tremendous but thankfully sufficient provisions can be made without hurting your finances, if you act in time.


When one grows old, the fear of medical problems rises. Heart problems, diabetes, stroke, renal failure, cancer – the list of lifestyle diseases just seem to get longer and more common these days.  With advance in medicine and scientific technology more and more diseases have cure but these come at a high cost. A regular medical cover taken during pre-retirement days should be continued to protect oneself from financial ordeal in the event of medical problems. If you do not have a medical insurance make sure you get one before you turn 65.

Health insurance covers individuals and their families against unforeseen expenses arising from illness, injury or accidents. Even relatively simple medical procedures can run into the thousands of rupees. So today the health insurance sector in India has numerous players and various complex policy options are available. Pre-existing diseases are not covered in the first few years of taking a policy.

Age is an important criterion in getting a health insurance policy and the premium rates increase for those in higher age group. The maximum entry age for purchasing a new health insurance policy is 65 years. There are policies which offer life-long renewal but the entry age is restricted to 65 years.

Most insurance companies limit the sum assured to a maximum of 5 lakhs. It is best to avoid plans that offer additional benefits such as daily allowance, ambulance charges, etc. for hospitalization and stick to a basic and simple policy because these benefits are mainly superfluous and they tend to drive the premiums higher.

The benefits of buying health insurance are many. It should not be considered a luxury, it is really a need. Some benefits include securing a better future by paying a fraction as an expense today called the premium, saving huge amount of financial losses, risk of financial breakdown in case of expensive medical and post-illness care. Besides you can avail tax benefits on the premium paid under section 80 D of the Income Tax Act.

Health insurance premiums are paid yearly and sum assured is valid for a year. You can get an individual cover or a family floater policy for your spouse and dependent children. Under a family floater policy one sum assured covers the entire family.

As an example, suppose you take a cover for your spouse and yourself under a family floater policy with Rs 2 lakhs cover for each making it a Rs 4 lakhs policy. If Rs 1.5 lakhs is claimed by one of you the sum assured reduces to Rs 2.5 lakhs which can be claimed for anyone of you again that year. Family floater makes sense for a family because that way each one in family gets a big cover and probability of more than person  getting hospitalized in same year is low.

You will also do well to get a Critical Illness Insurance along with a Medical Insurance or Mediclaim as it is commonly known as. Critical Illness plan insures you against the risk of serious illnesses in return of a premium you are required to pay. This gives you the same security of knowing that a guaranteed cash sum will be paid if the unexpected happens and you are diagnosed with any one of the critical illness.

Typically, a critical illness plan would provide cover for the illnesses such as Aorta graft surgery, Cancer, Coronary artery bypass surgery, First heart attack, Kidney failure, Major organ transplant, Multiple sclerosis, Paralysis, Primary pulmonary arterial hypertension and Stroke.

Creating Contingency

Financial planning would be incomplete without a contingency plan which is a plan devised for situations where things go wrong.  A contingency fund or reserve is created for your financial rescue should you face an urgent unexpected need that you are unprepared to deal with.

Why create a contingency reserve?

You have a job and a regular source of income today to let you live life the way you are living. But have you thought about what you would do if you lost your job or couldn’t work for a while due to illness or accident? A contingency fund is what you should be able to resort to in such circumstances.

How to create a contingency fund?

Having understood how a contingency reserve will help you, you will agree that such a one should ideally provide you with at least six months living expenses in the absence of regular income. You can create a contingency fund by keeping aside money equivalent to this in a safe and liquid form, that is, in a savings account. When your living expenses rise, increase your reserves to match the expenses.


Source: The author is the Director of

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