Maternity Insurance: Insurers are having a Chillar Party: Maternity insurance sales skyrocket as couples brace for soaring costs

Couples in India are becoming increasingly wary of the rising cost of having a baby, which is leading to a surge in demand for health insurance plans offering maternity benefits, as per a report by PolicyBazaar.

These policies can be purchased up to nine months before childbirth. Currently, they are growing at 80 per cent on an annual basis, data shows.

Considerably enough, 78 per cent of policies with maternity benefits are purchased by men for their spouses, says PolicyBazaar.

While claims are highly likely with these policies due to planned pregnancies, insurers are seeing them as a means to attract new customers, with some mitigating expenses through extended premium payments.

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“Most corporate policies limit maternity coverage to Rs 50,000 per policy. However, the cost can vary between Rs 50,000 and Rs 3 lakh, depending on the city and whether the delivery is a C-section one. This is prompting many young people to buy maternity cover,” TOI quoted Amit Chhabra, PolicyBazaar’s chief business officer (health) as saying. Couples with no corporate coverage are also looking at maternity benefits, thanks to booming costs of having a baby. Right now, only around 12 per cent of health policies sold in India factor in maternity benefits. Typically, only those in the 25-35 age group buy this cover.

“Maternity covers are generally provided as an add-on with a regular family health insurance plan. Maternity insurance typically has a waiting period that may range from 9 months to 3 years,” TOI quoted Priya Deshmukh, head of health products, operations and services at ICICI Lombard General Insurance as saying.

In certain cases, more than half of the maternity claims observed by insurers are related to C-section deliveries, particularly prevalent in tier-1 cities.

As opposed to older times, women are now preferring motherhood at a later age. “The average maternity age has increased from 26-27 years to 32-33 years in the last few years. The increased maternity age has caused an increase in complications during pregnancies,” as per Deshmukh.

Deshmukh further mentioned that the increase in C-section rates may be linked to various factors, including the presence of educated women in urban locales, diminishing pain tolerance, greater financial incentives perceived by patients for C-sections, and the convenience factor favored by doctors .

Reliance General Insurance’s research indicates a rise in C-section deliveries in India, climbing from 17.2% in 2016 to 21.5% in 2021.

said many customers are opting for its ‘Infinity + Mother & Child Care’ rider. “This feature provides a maternity cover with a standard waiting period of 2 years, but the customer can opt for a year too. It also covers vaccination expenses up to Rs 1 lakh, over and above the sum insured,” TOI quoted Rakesh Jain, CEO, Reliance General Insurance as saying.