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Health Insurance Online vs Offline: Which is better?

Team AckoJul 6, 2022

Even if you are not new to health insurance, choosing between online vs offline health insurance can be a dilemma. The offline mode has been around for a relatively longer time than the online mode. But, since the COVID-19 lockdowns, the online mode has gained prominence. Which one is better of the two, though? In this article, we will scrutinise online vs offline health insurance to help you make a decision for yourself.

Health Insurance Online vs Offline

Difference between online health insurance vs offline health insurance

To help you determine which mode is better, below we have shortlisted key parameters to compare online vs offline health insurance.

Parameter/Category Buying online health insurance Buying offline health insurance
Meaning Buying online health insurance means that you purchase health insurance from an insurer’s website or through their mobile app. Buying offline health insurance means that you have to visit the prefered insurer’s office personally or buy it through an agent.
Process Log on to the official website or mobile app of the insurer. Input your personal and health details. A quote will be generated accordingly. Go through the terms carefully. After that, pay the premium online and the policy document will be emailed to you. You have to manually compare plans, complete documentation and submit your application. After your application is approved, the hard copy of the policy will be generated and mailed to you.
Time factor Buying health insurance online will take only a few minutes to complete. Purchasing health insurance offline is time consuming. It may take a few weeks for your policy to be issued.
Convenience You can buy health insurance from anywhere and at any time. All you need is a computer or smartphone with a working internet connection. You can buy health insurance offline by booking an appointment with an agent or by visiting your preferred insurer's nearest branch office.
Choice Purchasing health insurance online gives you more options. You can choose from several available policies, according to your requirements. If you buy health insurance offline, you have to rely on the agent or agents that you are in touch with. So, your choices are limited.
Documentation Buying health insurance online involves zero paperwork. You don’t have to submit any physical documents. Buying offline health insurance requires documentation. Some of the documents required include medical records, birth certificate, Aadhar card etc.
Transparency You can access information about the insurer for example, their claim settlement ratio, online. These details make the process more transparent and straightforward. Buying health insurance offline means relying on information provided by an agent. Since agents usually only represent the insurer or insurers they work for, their opinion is likely to be biased.
Comparison One of the major advantages of buying health insurance online is being able to compare policies. You can do this manually by visiting multiple insurer websites or through neutral financial websites. Comparing health insurance policies offline is challenging since you have limited access to information.
Customer reviews If you buy health insurance online, you can check the reviews posted by existing customers of an insurer. This will help you get a good idea of the insurer’s reliability. When you buy health insurance offline, you cannot find out the reviews of existing customers. You will have to rely solely on the information provided by your agent.
Policy Premium The online mode bypasses agent fees and other operational costs for the insurer. Thus, policy premiums are offered at a significantly lower cost than the offline alternative. The policy premium charged for offline health insurance is higher than that of online health insurance.
Customer Support Usually the websites of health insurers have a 24x7 live customer support chat for assistance. If you purchase health insurance offline, an agent will guide you through the entire process.
Raising claims First inform your insurer about the claim. Then, choose a hospital from the list of available network hospitals on your insurer’s website or mobile app. After that, fill in your claim details and submit documentation. Once you have completed these steps, your insurer will pay the hospital directly as per the terms of the policy. Call the insurer’s office to inform them of the claim and ask about the nearest network hospital. Then contact your Third Party Administrator and they will handle the process from there. For network hospitals, the treatment will be cashless as per the terms in the policy document. For other hospitals, you need to pay for the treatment and get the payment reimbursed by your insurer.
Renewal Visit your insurer’s website or mobile app and go to the renewal section. Fill in your previous policy number and registered mobile number. After that, review the policy details and check the renewal premium. Lastly, make an online payment to renew the policy. You can renew your health insurance offline by visiting the nearest branch office of your insurer. Alternatively, you can get it done through an agent.
Security You can refer to the terms of an insurance policy online, at any time. Because of this transparency, there are less security risks. If you buy health insurance offline, you need to rely on the information provided by an agent. This opens the door to the possibility of manipulation and fraud.

Benefits of buying online health insurance

As may be evident in the above table, buying online health insurance has several advantages. It is more cost-effective, time-saving and simpler than the offline alternative. It also opens up a lot of options to compare and choose from.

Additionally, online health insurance offers more transparency and ease of transaction. You don’t have to deal with any middle men and you can interact directly with the insurer. You also don't have to travel anywhere. You can buy online insurance from the comfort of your home and at any time.

Benefits of buying offline health insurance

In comparison to online health insurance, offline health insurance has very few advantages. It is optimal for people who are not used to operating a computer or using the internet. Also, it offers the advantage of having an agent to explain things and guide you through the entire process. Agents are insurance professionals and are well-versed with the nitty-gritty of health policies. So, they can help you choose a suitable plan.

Summing-up

Based on the parameters we discussed, it may be obvious by now that online health insurance is more advantageous than offline health insurance. Nonetheless, for people who are not tech-savvy and for those who require personal assistance, the offline mode is more ideal. Online medical insurance is more convenient, safer and affordable. And for all the reasons previously discussed, it is the more recommended mode of the two.

Frequently asked questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions regarding online vs offline health insurance.

Which is the safer mode for buying health insurance – online or offline?

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Online health insurance is completely safe, provided you transact with an IRDA registered insurer like ACKO. Trusted insurers like ACKO offer encrypted payment methods that are 100% risk-free. For offline health insurance, the risk is manipulation of information and fraud by a person posing as an agent. That is why it is essential to verify an agent's credentials before buying health insurance through them. Of the two modes, the online mode is the more secure option.

How do I check the customer reviews of an insurance company?

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You can find the reviews posted by existing customers of an insurance provider by visiting their social media handles. Also, there are independent insurance aggregator websites that display the ratings and reviews of insurance companies. You can find the customer reviews of your desired insurer there.

What do I do if I get stuck while buying online health insurance?

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The websites of leading online health insurers like ACKO usually have a 24x7 live chat. You can use this chat to clarify your doubts and get assistance throughout the purchase process. Alternatively, there is usually a toll-free number displayed for customers who prefer to talk to a customer service executive instead.

Why is online health insurance offered at a lower cost than offline health insurance?

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In online health insurance there are no middlemen involved, i.e. there are no agents bridging between the insurer and the customer. This cuts down the costs on agent fees. These savings enable online health insurance providers to offer a lower premium on their policies in comparison to their offline counterparts.

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet; and is subject to changes. Please go through the applicable policy wordings for updated ACKO-centric content and before making any insurance-related decisions.

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