India regulator orders specific cover for PWDs, persons with HIV, mental illness

Specific coverage ordered under instruction from the Delhi High Court

India regulator orders specific cover for PWDs, persons with HIV, mental illness

Insurance News

By Kenneth Araullo

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued a circular ordering private insurers to design specific coverage for persons with disabilities (PWDs), persons with HIV/AIDS, and those with mental illness.

On instruction of the Delhi High Court, the order asked to provide appropriate product offerings to cover for certain vulnerable sections of society. The policy tenure for these insurances would be for a year and would have to be renewable. Their prices would also have to be set according to provisions.

According to a report from India Today, the disabled within the country are still not entitled to health insurance. While India has made strides within the sector in including PWDs in government health schemes and programs such as the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, ADIP and Nirmaya Health Insurance, there are still wide gaps within the system in terms of inclusion for certain vulnerable groups.

Petition filed to move things along

The IRDAI first issued the circular in June 2020, and it tasked all insurers within the life, general, and health sectors to comply by October of the same year. However, despite the order, nothing moved substantially.

This continued to be the case until recently, when a disabled person filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court. The intervention by the court in December 2022 resulted in a new order from IRDAI dated Feb. 27, 2023, mandating all insurers to provide annual and specific health cover to all PWDs, HIV-positive persons, and the mentally unwell.

The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) has been working for disability rights in India for the past 26 years. Health insurance coverage for disabled people has been one of its main advocacies. To that end, the association is organizing a workshop with health insurance stakeholders along with IRDAI representatives to customize products according to disabled people’s needs. The workshop will be in Mumbai later this month.

A recent joint study conducted by risk management group RIMS and the National Insurance Academy (NIA) of India said that the Indian insurance market must align with leading global markets.

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