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Importance of cooling-off period in health insurance

Team AckoMay 10, 2022

With COVID-19 recurring intermittently, it only makes sense to buy health insurance to protect against incurring steep medical costs. Nonetheless, if you were diagnosed with COVID-19 recently and are still recovering, you may not be able to buy health insurance immediately. This is due to something called the cooling-off period in health insurance. Read ahead to know more!

Cooling-off Period In Health Insurance

What is the cooling-off period in health insurance?

“Cooling-off period” can have multiple meanings based on the health insurance provider you choose. Usually, it is the duration you may take to recover after suffering certain illnesses. During this period, approval for buying health insurance is usually avoided by insurers until you make full recovery. So, once you become fit, you will be eligible to buy health insurance for yourself. The cooling-off period usually spans from around 15 to 90 days depending on the terms of the policy. You can check with the insurer to find out the exact duration.

What is the importance of cooling-off period in medical insurance?

Diseases like COVID-19 can have unknown long-term effects on patients. It takes years to fully understand a disease and unfortunately much time has not passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. From what we know, there have been cases where individuals suffered from prolonged post-COVID-19 symptoms. These symptoms included stroke, heart complications and kidney issues. The cooling-off period allows for these post-illness symptoms to subside. So, when health insurance is finally approved, these symptoms will not be flagged as pre-existing conditions.

How the cooling-off period works in health insurance

It is crucial for an insurer to check if the customer is in good health. Thus, the cooling-off period allows insurers to make a more accurate judgement of a customer’s health condition. During this period your insurer may require you to undergo a medical check-up and produce a negative report (a report showing negative results for a health condition or disease).

Some insurers may also require your medical history for the past six months or one year. Based on these assessments, the insurer will decide whether to approve the insurance policy purchase immediately or postpone it further.

Is the cooling-off period and waiting period the same thing?

No, the cooling-off period is different from the waiting period. The cooling-off period usually refers to a 15 to 90 day period after catching an illness. During this period health insurance cannot be bought. So, the cooling-off period applies only before buying a health plan. 

On the other hand, the waiting period refers to a 15 to 60 day period after buying a health insurance policy, during which the insured cannot raise any claims. So, unlike the cooling-off period, the waiting period is applicable only after buying health insurance.

The alternate usage of the term “waiting period” is to indicate the duration you may have to wait to receive coverage for a particular disease. However, some insurance companies may refer to the ‘initial waiting period’ or ‘free-look period’ as cooling off period as well.

Is it possible to skip the cooling-off period?

No, if your insurer needs you to complete the cooling off period then you cannot skip it. Nonetheless, you can avoid it by buying a health insurance policy while you are still in good health, before you incur any illness. That is why we recommend that you purchase a health insurance policy as early as possible. That way, you do not need to panic if you come down with an illness.

The cooling-off period for COVID-19 during the third-wave

There was a lot of panic due to the lack of adequate information regarding the disease during the initial COVID-19 waves in India. Thus, there were a lot of restrictions imposed on the public. Unfortunately, it was the same case with health insurance as well.

During that time, the cooling-off period for COVID-19 usually spanned from 15 days to 90 days or sometimes even up to six months. Fortunately, the number of days has gradually decreased since then. Now, the cooling-off period has been reduced to around 7 days.

Other definitions of cooling-off period in health insurance

The definition of cooling-off period may vary from insurer to insurer. As mentioned previously, the cooling-off period usually refers to the time of recovery after incurring a disease. During this period, you will not be able to buy health insurance. Sometimes, the initial 30 to 90 day waiting period is also interchangeably referred to as cooling-off period. 

Alternatively, the cooling-off period could also refer to the 15 to 30 day period after the commencement of a health plan. During this time, the insured can choose to discontinue the plan without any repercussions and receive a full refund. Thus, it is important to learn the insurer-specific meaning of the term before purchasing a policy.

Cooling-off period under ACKO Health Insurance

There is no cooling-off period under ACKO Health Insurance Policy. You can avail of coverage from day 1 itself and focus on getting better. You can leave the burden of paying for medical bills to us. Nonetheless, ACKO does have a free look period aka “cooling-off period” (as discussed in the previous sub-heading). During this time you can discontinue an ACKO health plan and receive a full refund. The free look period usually spans for around 15 days.

Inferences

Health insurance helps us to cope with the financial repercussions of illnesses like COVID-19. With the anticipation of more pandemics and other diseases brewing up, it only makes sense to buy health insurance in advance. Alternatively, if you do not buy health insurance soon, you may not be able to buy it once you incur a disease. Hence, we recommend that you buy it as soon as possible.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of the frequently asked questions regarding the cooling-off period in health insurance.

Does the cooling-off period apply during health insurance renewal?

No, there is no cooling-off period applicable during health insurance renewal. However, this is only provided there is no breakage in policy coverage after expiry.

Can a health insurance plan have both a cooling-off period and a waiting period?

Yes, it is possible for a health insurance plan to have both a cooling-off period and a waiting period. That is why it is important to check this with an insurer before purchasing a plan.

Can I hide my health conditions and skip the cooling-off period?

It is not wise to hide health conditions or withhold medical information from your insurer. If you are found guilty of hiding medical conditions, your insurer reserves the right to permanently revoke your health insurance.

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