The world has seen various pandemics, right from the Plague of Athens in 430 BC to the recent ones such as the Ebola virus in 2013 and now the COVID-19, which started in 2019. All these pandemics have been unpredictable and came along with new challenges every time. However, one thing which is common across all these pandemics is that they have helped us become more resilient and prepare for uncertainties with greater vigour.
I have always believed that although we can’t really predict what will happen in the future, we can certainly prepare ourselves to minimize the damage if something goes wrong. None of us anticipated that the COVID-19 pandemic will last so long that it will transform our lifestyle and the kind of risks we face. In fact, some countries are even witnessing second wave of it and we are not sure how this is going to pan out in the future. Hence, we need to be better prepared. Is it possible to safeguard ourselves and minimize the financial losses during such tough times? The answer to both these questions is equipping ourselves with appropriate insurance covers against such events. Since the time of our existence, we know that as much as we take care of ourselves and our belongings, none of it is so invulnerable that nothing will ever happen to them. Insurance as a mechanism, which takes care of such uncertainties, has started getting recognized only recently while it has always been there to cover the risks that we face.
While there is a need for changes in attitudes of people towards the risks they face, here are some of the insurance covers, if taken now, can go a long way in making yourself pandemic-proof and worry-free.
Health Insurance: Your health during a pandemic is at immediate risk and as much as you take care, you can’t be 100 percent sure that it won’t affect you. Health insurance is a must-have, as various health indemnity policies cover you against infections. However, it’s important to know that since more often than not the treatments during the pandemic are new, the medical expenses tend to be on a higher side. Hence, it’s better to have an individual base policy with a sum insured of at least Rs 5 lakh and a super top-up cover to enhance the coverage if the base policy limit gets exhausted. During COVID-19, we saw that IRDAI asked insurers to launch COVID-19 specific health policies, which are seeing a good uptake due to their affordability and the kind of coverage they offer. It’s better to always have comprehensive health insurance as these policies cover you, irrespective of whether there’s a pandemic or not, against any medical exigency. Additionally, it is important to revisit the sum insured of your policy frequently and increase it in line with the medical inflation to be appropriately covered.
Cyber Insurance: The COVID-19 induced lockdown brought in a culture of work-from-home across all sectors. While on the one hand it led to ease of work and saved our travel time, it came along with its set of vulnerabilities especially in terms of cyber security. Due to the lack of cyber safety infrastructure at home, which is otherwise available in office, we saw increasing incidents of cyber-attacks including spyware and ransomware, phishing emails, cyber stalking, etc. In fact, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has reported close to seven lakh cyber-attacks till August this year as compared to nearly four lakh cyber-attacks in 2019. Hence, it’s important to have a cyber-insurance cover not just for companies, but also for individuals who are increasingly using internet on their digital devices. This cover ensures that you are well protected financially against cyber-attacks and can browse the internet worry-free.
Motor Insurance: Most of you would ask: why talk about motor insurance, when vehicle movement is less during the pandemic? Well, you’d be surprised to know that we are seeing a gradual increase in motor claims as more people now prefer using their own vehicle over public transport while traveling. Thus, there are increasing chances of risks to the vehicle and any other accidental damages. Additionally, due to the lockdown people didn’t use their vehicle much, but that didn’t mean that their vehicle didn’t face any risks. We saw a couple of natural disasters: Cyclone Amphan and the recent floods in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. So, it’s worth having a comprehensive motor insurance policy even if your vehicle is lying idle in the parking area.
Home Insurance: Most of us are working from home during the pandemic, which means that there are less chances of any theft or major damage to the house. However, as we spend more time at home compared to what used to be the case earlier, the utilization of resources at home increases, which may lead to electrical fire or any other unfortunate mishap. It may be a minor damage, but can burn a huge hole in your pocket. Hence, I believe one must have a home insurance policy which covers all risks by not only covering the structure of the house, but also the contents within, which quite often are worth more than the value of your house.
After analysing the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, even insurers today are identifying ways to improve their products. Thus, together we can build a strong front and recuperate faster from the losses due to the impact of the pandemic.(The writer is MD & CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance)