Team AckoApr 5, 2021
Health insurance policies are becoming easier to understand and purchase as compared to the previous decade. Earlier, it was common for people to be perplexed by the health insurance terminology and covers. Probably that is why they relied on agents or insurer’s executives to help them purchase a policy. However, the power of the internet and the overall focus of the industry to make health insurance more accessible has brought about a positive change. For example, a policy can be purchased quickly and returned if it is not feasible – thanks to the Free-look Period.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) along with traditional as well as digital-first insurers strives to make health insurance simple to understand, easy to buy, and convenient to claim. There are different types of health insurance policies and different types of features – the Free-look Period is one such example. Read ahead to know more about this feature’s benefits in detail.
The meaning of the Free-look Period lies in the term itself – it is a period where you have the liberty to have a free look at the policy. If you do not like the policy or come to know of certain clauses that you do not feel are right for you, you can return the policy to the insurance company. The insurer might deduct some basic fees and return the amount you paid as a premium.
Whether it is a Life Insurance Policy or a Health Insurance Policy, you have the benefit of cancelling a policy via the Free-look period feature, as per the terms and conditions. For example, one of the conditions is that the purchased health plan needs to be for three years to be eligible for the Free-look Period benefit.
The following sections deal with details of the Free-look period for health insurance.
In case of a health plan, the policyholders can act upon the Free-look Period benefit in a stipulated time. Usually, the time limit for it is 15 days from the date the policy was received. The policy will cease to fall under the Free-look period after 15 days.
If you are not comfortable with the purchased policy and want to cancel it as per the Free-look Period feature, you will have to get in touch with the insurance company and apply for a cancellation request. This process can be performed online or offline based on the insurer’s capabilities.
While raising a Cancellation Request, you will have to submit the following details:
Date when you received the policy.
Reason or reasons for policy cancellation.
Bank account details for money transfer.
Details of the facilitator if the policy was purchased via the agent.
You will have to submit certain original documents or copies of the documents to cancel the policy. These documents may include the premium paid receipt, cancelled cheque, etc. In the absence of the required documents, the insurer might ask you to submit an Indemnity Bond.
It is highly unlikely that you will receive a full refund on policy cancellation. This is because the insurer will deduct some amount such as Stamp Duty Charges, Medical Test fees, etc. and then refund the payment. The refund is initiated after verifying all the terms and conditions associated with the Free-look period.
A lot of people do not look at the policy’s terms and conditions and just focus on the features and benefits highlighted on the brochure or a website, and purchase a policy. Often, they come to know of certain terms and conditions while raising a claim – by that time it is too late.
The top benefit of the Free-look period in insurance is the advantage of returning the policy without losing much of the amount paid as premium. The 15-day Free-look period is a significant time to dig deep into the policy’s coverage if you haven’t done that before purchasing the policy.
The feature allows you to return the policy and save money, which otherwise would have been paid for a policy that does not suit your requirements. It is better to return the policy and get a refund rather than being stuck with it for a year knowing that it is not going to be helpful.
Firstly, you need to be eligible for the Free-look Period policy. This means you need to purchase a health insurance plan that is for a long-term – a policy covering three years. Secondly, you need to return the policy within the stipulated return period, which is 15 days in most cases. Here’s an example to explain the working of the Free-look Period.
Mr A purchased a health insurance policy for three years via the online mode. While purchasing, he was in a hurry and did not go through the Hospital Room Rent clause. As per the clause, there were substantial Hospital Room Rent limits in place concerning the insurer’s contribution in case of a claim. This was not what Mr A had hoped for while buying the policy. Therefore, he chose to take advantage of the Free-look period and returned the policy. He found another insurer who did not have the Hospital Room Rent Clause and therefore, Mr A went ahead and purchased that policy.
In the absence of the Free-look Period, Mr A would not have received the refund and he would have to accept the Hospital Room Rent condition and carry on with the policy for three years to derive benefit from the amount paid as policy premium.
Here’s how you can cancel your policy during the Free-look Period.
Step 1 – Check whether you meet the eligibility criteria – 3-year health insurance policy and policy cancellation within 15 days.
Step 2 – Apply for policy cancellation under the Free-look Period via email and state your reasons. You can have a discussion with your insurer regarding the process followed by them regarding policy cancellation during the Free-look period. Some insurers might have an online process as well.
Step 3 – Submit the required documents.
Step 4 – Insurer will verify the application.
Step 5 – Upon successful verification, the insurer will endorse the policy to cancel it and refund the money as applicable.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions concerning the Free-look period in health insurance. In case you have specific questions, make sure to get them resolved before purchasing the policy. Nowadays, there are multiple avenues available through which you can contact an insurance company – email, call, social media platforms, etc.
Q1) Is the Free-look Period feature available on all types of health insurance plans?
The Free-look Period might not apply to all types of health insurance plans. Therefore, it is suggested to go through the Policy Document or ask the insurance company about the feature before buying the policy.
Q2) Is the Free-look Period applicable during policy renewal?
No, the Free-look Period is applicable for first-time purchases and not on renewals.
Q3) Can I benefit from the Free-look period if I have purchased the policy from an agent?
Yes, you can cancel the policy under the Free-look Period even if you have purchased it from an agent, provided you meet the cancellation criteria.
Q4) What if I raise a claim, settle it, and then cancel the policy under the Free-look Period clause?
The insurance company will handle such situations as per the terms and conditions of the policy.
Q5) Do digital-first insurers offer the Free-look period feature?
Digital-first insurers also offer such a feature. It is better to confirm it from the insurer’s website before buying online health insurance.
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