Smart ways to insure your health and assets

Inflation is raging, but the costs of private healthcare are rising even faster. One estimate says that health care costs in India are increasing by 13-14 per cent every year. The only way to safeguard your finances against a fat medical bill is to buy a health insurance policy. There are several types of medical insurance policies, each designed to fulfill a certain need. The choice depends on the buyer's age, family size and structure and existing insurance cover. Choose one that best suits your circumstances.

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Young nuclear family

If you are living in a nuclear family, a floater plan that covers all members is you best option. The premium per `1 lakh may be higher compared to an individual policy but the premium per person works out to be lower. It's a calculated risk based on the assumption that all the members are not likely to require hospitalisation at once.

For newly married couples who intend to start a family in a few years, it makes sense to plan accordingly. Though most health insurance policies do not cover maternity costs, some policies do. However, these costs are covered only after a waiting period of 2-3 years. Buy a policy that covers maternity costs immediately after marriage.

Already covered by employer

A lot of people have the misconception that if they are covered by a group plan from their employer, they don't need to buy a separate policy. While group covers are useful, they may not be sufficient. If you lose your job or switch to another company, you may be rendered uninsured.

Even if you buy a fresh cover immediately, keep in mind that there is a mandatory 45-day cooling period during which certain claims will not be paid. Besides, there is a 2-3 year waiting period for pre-existing diseases. Group covers have no such exclusions.

Living with dependent parents

The family floater plan is not a good option if you want cover for an older relative as well.

The premium rates in these plans are determined by the age of the oldest member.

If you live with aged parents, buy individual plans for them separately so that the premium for the rest of the family does not shoot up. When buying a policy for your parents, study its features in great detail.

Most health insurance policies don't offer coverage beyond the age of 70 years, but some policies now offer lifelong cover.

Even so, the premium is prohibitively high and you could be paying Rs 24,000-30,000 a year for a cover of Rs 1.5 lakh. Some may find that putting away the premium money in an emergency fund for medical expenses is a better idea than buying health insurance at that age.

Home Insurance

Your house is your most valuable asset. Yet, very few people insure their home though home insurance is very cheap in India. The vital covers your house needs will cost you less than Rs 2,000 a year. Keep in mind that you don't need to insure the house for the value of the property but only for the cost of reconstructing it. The costs can vary from Rs 1,500 per sq ft for a basic no-frills structure to Rs 2,500 per sq ft for a premium construction. You also need to insure the contents of the house against damage. The cost of ensuring contents worth Rs 10 lakh against natural and manmade calamities is just Rs 255.

source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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