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Cooling-off Period in Health Insurance: Why it Matters

Discover why the cooling-off period in health insurance is crucial and how it can protect you as a policyholder.

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Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Cooling Off Period in Health Insurance

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!

What is the cooling-off period in health insurance?
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“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 health insurance?
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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
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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.

Impact of Cooling-Off Periods on Health Insurance Premiums
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The insurance cooling off period is a critical time frame that insurers use to assess the health risk of potential policyholders who have recently recovered from an illness. This cooling period limit is established to ensure that individuals are in stable health before they are covered, helping to mitigate the risk of immediate and costly medical claims. As a result, the insurance cooling-off period directly influences health insurance premiums. If the insurer perceives a lower risk of future claims after the cooling-off period, the policyholder may benefit from more favourable premium rates. Conversely, if the risk remains high post-cooling-off period, this could reflect in higher premiums. Essentially, the insurance cooling-off period acts as a protective measure for both the insurer and the insured, effectively balancing risk and premium costs.

Is the cooling-off period and waiting period the same thing?
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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?
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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. Doing so eliminates the entire need to face potential care delays from any standard insurer cooling-off periods. It also reduces the chances of coverage changes due to health status shifts.

Having that vital safety net already solidly in place means you avoid stressful moments later on if health issues emerge unexpectedly. No one envisions themselves requiring significant medical intervention, but circumstances can change fast, with detrimental results if insurance access gets disrupted due to policy switches. Investing in protection proactively brings permanence and security that cannot be replicated in any other fashion down the line. So get covered and breathe easy, knowing care comes without restrictions if needed.

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

Strategies to Manage Health During the Cooling-Off Period
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Managing your health during the cooling-off period, when you're recovering from an illness but aren't yet eligible for health insurance, is crucial. Here's how to navigate this time effectively:

Stay Informed: Understand the specifics of your cooling period limit. Each insurer might have different rules, so knowing exactly how long your cool down period lasts can help you plan better.

Follow Medical Advice: Adhering to your healthcare provider's recommendations is key during the cooling-off period. This ensures you recover fully and can move past the cooling period quickly and healthily.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Embrace a healthy lifestyle, including balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep. These habits can bolster your recovery and overall well-being, making the cooling period a positive health transformation.

Monitor Your Symptoms: Keep a close eye on any symptoms during the cooling period. Early detection of any complications can prevent setbacks in your recovery process.

Mental Health Matters: Don't neglect your mental health. The cooling-off period can be stressful, so consider engaging in stress-reduction activities like meditation, yoga, or talking to a therapist.

Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished: Proper hydration and nutrition are pillars of good health. Focus on foods that boost your immune system and keep you hydrated to aid your recovery during the cool down period.

Avoid Risky Behaviors: Steering clear of activities that could compromise your health or delay your recovery is essential during the cooling-off period. This includes avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and other risky behaviors.

Regular Check-Ups: Schedule follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider throughout the cooling period. These check-ups can help ensure your recovery is on track and identify any potential health issues early.

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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 (FAQs)
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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.

Is there a difference between the cooling-off and waiting periods in health insurance?

Absolutely, the cooling-off and waiting periods in health insurance are different. The cooling-off period is before you buy the policy and is related to recovery time after an illness. The waiting period starts after you've purchased the policy, during which claims for certain conditions or treatments may not be covered.

Is it possible to avoid the cooling-off period when applying for health insurance?

Skipping the cooling-off period mandated by your insurer isn't possible. However, you can avoid it altogether by securing health insurance while in good health, before falling ill. This proactive approach ensures you have coverage when needed, without delays.

Did the cooling-off period for COVID-19 change over time?

Yes, the cooling-off period for COVID-19 has changed over time. Initially, during the early waves of the pandemic, the period could extend up to six months. However, as understanding of the disease improved, this period was reduced, typically around 7 days.

What should I do during the cooling-off period to ensure I can get health insurance afterward?

During the cooling-off period, follow medical advice, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and monitor any symptoms. Also, ensure you keep up with any required check-ups. These steps can help you recover fully and expedite qualifying for health insurance once the cooling-off period ends.