How Staying Fit Can Reduce Your Health Insurance Premium?    Feb 13, 2017


The fervour of healthy New Year resolutions leads new members to join gyms every January.  But for many, the ‘race to fitness’ starts to cool down after a month, and, the New Year resolution topples.

Few are keen about losing weight and staying healthy, but most of them lack the motivation to get up early in the morning and go to the gym for a vigorous workout.

But what if someone pays you to stay healthy?

Yes, you read it right. Will that be a bigger motivation to stay fit?

Health insurance providers have been consistently working on improving the scheme’s features. Nowadays, many of them have started offering a discount of upto 30% on the premium if a customer meets some predefined criteria of fitness and wellness.

Why are companies doing so?

The underlying assumption for offering such generous discounts is that healthy people won’t register claims frequently, thereby saving the insurance company enormous costs. No wonder then, these companies have been willing to pass on some of these cost-saving benefits upfront to their customers in the form of discounts.

Some leading private insurance companies have launched reward point programmes under various names. You may redeem these points to get discounts on renewals.

For example, ICICI Lombard has started a programme called ‘Do The Difficult’ under which the policyholder earns reward points for participating in any of their specified activities. These activities include participating in marathons, cyclothon, and swimathons. Moreover, those including Yoga and workouts in their routine can get higher reward points. Quitting cigarette will also help you add up bonus points.

Another private insurer, Apollo Munich Health Insurance has been encouraging its policyholders to walk 10,000 steps every day to be able to avail the discounts of upto 8%. Under ‘Stay Active’ programme, the company has been trying to change the sedentary lifestyle of people who are more prone to developing the ‘inactivity’ related diseases.

Similarly, Aditya Birla Health Insurance launched a wellness programme called ‘Health Returns’ a few months ago. Under this initiative, the policyholder is entitled to earn reward points on each ‘active day’. A 30-minute workout at an empaneled gym or walking 10,000 steps in a day qualifies for recording an ‘active day’.  The company keeps track of your walking through digital devices allowing an integrated tracking mechanism.

On the other hand, some insurance companies such as Baja Allianz believe that prevention and early detection is better than cure. Bajaj Allianz provides its customers with value added benefits such as discounts on preventive health checkups at empanelled diagnostic centres and hospitals. It also allows customers to avail discounts in pharmacy bills by showing policy card at network pharmacies.  

Other insurers are not behind in the race. Companies such as Max Bupa and Future Generali India Insurance are hopeful that with the advent of wearable devices such as fitness band and other digital technology devices and smart phone apps, tracking the real-time fitness behaviour of the policyholder will become accessible.

What does the law say about such programmes?

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) has been trying to encourage innovation in the health insurance products offered by insurers in India.

IRDA Health Insurance Regulations, 2016 have allowed insurance companies to offer specific discounts on:
1. Out-patient consultations or treatments or
2. Pharmaceuticals or
3. Health check-ups

Also, insurance companies can offer a discount based on wellness and fitness criteria stipulated and disclosed. The only condition IRDA has imposed on insurance companies is, they can’t offer any discount on third party products. Also, the policy documents and the prospectus shall have a clear mention of such wellness and fitness related discounts.

Should you participate in wellness programmes?

A survey done by Apollo Munich Health Insurance has brought forth some interesting observations. According to the survey, 3 in every 5 respondents showed interest in participating in wellness programmes. Respondents in metro cities seemed more interested than other respondents in joining fitness and wellness initiatives.

PersonalFN is of the view that preventive healthcare and wellness programmes are no more just value-added features of health insurance policies. In the era of hash-tagging, the health insurance providers have been aggressively promoting the mutually beneficial wellness programmes. In an attempt to reduce the claim ratio, they have been encouraging people to develop healthy habits.

However, it would be imprudent to get carried away by the quantum of discounts an insurance company offers in the premium. You should avoid purchasing a health insurance policy based on the level of discounts it offers, but for the policy features, claim settlement history of the insurance provider and insurability provisions.

So whether you quit unhealthy habits like smoking and take up healthy ones like brisk walking, you might get some discounts on health insurance premiums. The question is, are you willing to make some effort for your betterment?



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