Best Ways to Buy Health Insurance
Health Insurance safeguards you and your family against medical expenses that may arise due to an accident, illness or critical disease.
If you're planning to buy Health Insurance, there are multiple ways through which you can purchase a suitable plan. There are both online & offline methods available for buying Health Insurance. However, some companies might offer Digital approach & some companies might not offer certain plans online. Therefore, you must thoroughly research if the plan that you're willing to buy is available online or offline.
If the desired plan is available both online & offline, choosing either of the mediums depends upon your convenience.
What are the Different Ways of Buying Health Insurance in India?
While earlier Insurers used to rely on traditional mode or offline mode i.e. agents to distribute their health policies, many Health Insurance companies are now directly connecting with their customers with the help of user-friendly websites. This helps policyholders and potential buyers to review, compare and buy Best Health Insurance Plans online.
This section sheds light on the popular ways of buying Health Insurance in India.
Offline purchase has been the traditional way of buying insurance for a significant portion of the population in India.
Insurance can be bought offline in two different ways:
- Branch visitEvery Insurance Company that is currently operating has established their presence PAN India with several branches across cities. If you are planning to buy Insurance & you're not comfortable purchasing or unable to buy it online, you can pay a quick visit to your nearest branch and initiate the purchase. The Relationship Manager at the branch will assist you in the Buying Process.
- Agent NetworkBefore the digital age, companies used to largely depend on their agent network to promote and sell Insurance Policies; which is still prevalent in the country. In return for selling policies, agents are entitled to commission for each successful sale. These agents also act as your primary source of information and the mediator between you and the Insurance Company for the duration of your policy.
You can also purchase your plans online by yourself on your computer, mobile phone, or laptop. This is the fastest way to purchase any form of Insurance, given that there are no intermediaries or third-parties involved. Anyone with an internet connection can purchase it from the comfort of their homes.
It can involve multiple ways such as:
- Official Websites / AppsBuying Insurance through the official online platforms / channels of Insurance Companies is a reliable mode of purchasing Insurance. You get the most accurate information regarding the policies, their features and benefits and eliminates any scope for misinformation. There is an in- built feature i.e. Premium Calculator which calculates accurate premiums for you; according to parameters like Age, Income, Policy Tenure etc.
- Insurance AggregatorsInsurance Aggregators compile and provide information about Insurance policies of various companies on a website. These aggregators offer a wider field of vision and offer unbiased opinions which allow you to compare Insurance Providers and their respective plans. You will find details of every Insurer on their online platforms that in turn ensures an informed decision on your part. Web Aggregators allow you to compare different policies on the basis of some important factors like Premiums, Coverage provided, Policy Term, Claim Settlement Ratio and others.
Bancassurance is the selling of Insurance by Banking Institutions in the country. Most Insurance Providers have Bancassurance partnerships with leading banks to distribute their products and widen their customer base. In India, employers mostly purchase Group Health Policies through the Bancassurance network established by various Health Insurers in India, by paying a collective premium amount.
For instance, Star Health Insurance entered into a Bancassurance partnership with the Bank of India in a corporate agency agreement to market Star Health Insurance products across the bank's branches PAN India. The objective was to reach out to a greater number of masses.
Which is a Better Way of Buying Insurance: Online or Offline?
Both the modes have their own pros and cons. However, choosing either of the modes depends upon your convenience.
For clarity, we have enlisted the points of comparison on some basic parameters.
|Offline Mode||Online Mode|
|Requires branch visit for purchase and Claim Settlement||Saves time by eliminating the need to visit network branches of Insurance Providers|
|More chances of miscommunication with unrecorded calls / discussions with agents and brokers||Calls are recorded to eliminate scope of false commitments by customer support agents|
|Higher premium quotes||Discounted quotes with Insurance Aggregators|
|Payment is paid via third-party intermediaries||Secure gateways for transactions|
|Lesser number of options to choose from||Flexibility in plan selection|
Considering the above mentioned points, buying a Medical Insurance policy online is more hassle-free, quick, and time-saving for a policyholder.
Advantages of buying Health Insurance Online
While both ways of purchasing Health Insurance are valid and come with their own set of benefits, Online Purchase is considered the best for many reasons
- Policy Comparison
- Brand Value
- Lesser Chances of Errors
- Lesser Chances of Fraud
- Lower Costs
- Less Paperwork
- Policy ComparisonThe support of Web Aggregators makes it very easy for a person to review and compare various Health Insurance policies. The buyer has complete access to all the information about the policy features and the premium cost. One can compare the premiums & policies of 29 Health Insurance companies & purchase the plan which best suits the requirements. On the other hand, a person using offline mode to buy Health Insurance may have limited access to information and therefore, has to depend solely on the information shared by the Health Insurance agent.
- Brand ValueWhen buyers purchase a policy for themselves through an online app, they are essentially dealing directly with a well-established brand. Under the strict supervision of IRDAI, the brand can not display false policy terms or features of the policy.
- Lesser Chances of ErrorsWhile purchasing a policy online, the chances of errors reduce; as it is the customer himself/ herself, who is filling up the details online. While opting for the offline mode of purchase, agents complete the formalities on your behalf. In such cases, even a minor error on her/his part can lead to policy cancellation later and your benefits stand to be invalidated by the Insurance Provider during Claim Settlement.
- Lesser Chances of FraudAll of the Insurance Providers' Terms and Conditions are listed on their apps and/or their official websites. This transparency significantly reduces the risks of fraud or eliminates any possibility of miscommunication of facts.
- Lower CostsAs there are no third-party mediators or agents involved, the overall cost of purchasing a Health Insurance policy reduces. This eliminates all the intermediary costs and commissions that an agent is liable to receive from the Insurer for making a sale.
- FlexibilityOnline mode of buying offers a significantly higher degree of flexibility in plan selection and range of customizations than those bought offline. While purchasing Health Insurance online, a customer can compare policies from different companies. One can also add/ remove riders to check premiums & then choose a plan per their requirements and budget. Hence, a customer has a lot of flexibility while buying a plan online. On the contrary, the offline route solely depends on the agent and the policy s(he) wishes to sell. This limits your scope of finding a more suitable plan for yourself.
- Less PaperworkOne noteworthy advantage of opting for Medical Insurance plans through the online mode is the lack of paperwork. With this mode, you can get a health cover in a matter of a few mouse clicks. It eliminates the efforts of visiting the insurer's office and filling up forms, thus saving one's precious time. Choosing the best policy, paying the premium, and tracking the status of claims – all of these can be done online.
The prime focus is buying Insurance & the method you wish to opt for, depends on your convenience & preferences.
Buying Insurance online is faster, more convenient and offers a range of options to the policyholders. While offline modes come with their own benefits, the tech-savvy generation today is more likely to make purchases online through Insurance Aggregators, apps etc.
However, irrespective of whether you select the online or offline mode of buying Medical Insurance plans, it is always advisable to make a fairly accurate estimation of your healthcare needs and understand the various policy features in order to come to the right decision. The right Medical Insurance plan will help secure your family's future and finances even if a medical emergency strikes without warning.