Give a pass to women-centric insurance plans

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 10, 2012 10:31 hrs

Parents and grandparents looking to save for their children/grandchildren's future have been the biggest targets for life insurance companies. The next in line are those 10-15 years away from retirement. In the recent past, life insurers have started focusing on women and have come up with products catering to women-specific needs, specially health-related.

Yateesh Shrivastava, CMO at Aegon Religare Life Insurance, says, there is a lot of demand for women-specific plans. The need for these plan arises because women often don’t revaluate their needs over time and fail to upgrade their insurance plans at different stages.

Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) has had Jeevan Bharti, a traditional investment-cum-insurance plan for a long time. Among the women-specific products that were launched in the past year are Bajaj Allianz General Insurance launched Women Critical Illness Plan, Aegon Religare's Women Critical Illness rider and HDFC Life's Smart Woman Plan. This apart, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance also has a product called Mahila Gain.

If you glance through these products, you will see all the plans cover maternity-related complications, women-specific critical illnesses and congenital disabilities. Congenital disabilities mean conditions infants may be born with. These covers pay for expenses incurred by the woman towards her child’s treatment.

Usually, health insurance doesn't cover breast/ ovaries/uterus cancer and child-birth-related problems. Hence, while buying women-centric insurance plans it’s important for you to see if your plan covers these risks in order to make your plan more comprehensive in nature.

However, experts say these plans are not sufficient from the perspective of an individual's health insurance needs. “I would suggest women subscribe to plans offering investment facility also. But, from the health insurance perspective, there are many diseases which are not covered in women-centric policies,” says a senior HDFC Life executive. This means you will need to buy a comprehensive health insurance and top up the base term or health plan with any critical illness rider, if you specifically want it.

Importantly, if you have a family history of the diseases covered by women-centric plans, be ready to pay a higher premium (up to 25 per cent) and/or higher waiting period before the disease is covered, say experts. Interestingly, if you ask for a very high cover, then too, your premium could be hiked.

A comprehensive health cover is much cheaper as opposed to modified products like women’s plans. A Rs 10-lakh cover would cost anywhere between Rs 3,000-4,500 a year.

If you are looking for a cover against maternity complications, some experts advise getting covered under employee group policies as you will be refunded for most expenses for a small premium. Additionally, you could buy health covers which provide in-built pregnancy and related covers instead of going for women-centric policies. But, you get limited cover. For instance, Max Bupa’s Heartbeat Gold Policy provides a of Rs 10 lakh, but the maternity cover is only Rs 50,000. The premium of the policy is Rs 19,042. A Star Health standalone policy would cost you an annual premium of Rs 18,550 for a Rs 3 lakh cover and Rs 19,335 for Rs 5 lakh.

However, from an investment perspective, products for women work out cheaper. For instance, HDFC Life's Smart Women Plan, according to the company’s website, would charge Rs 1 lakh for a Rs 40-lakh cover. Whereas Aviva Life Insurance’s Freedom Life Advantage would charge you Rs 50,000 for a Rs 7.87 lakh cover and Aegon Religare’s iMaximize will charge the same premium for a Rs 5-lakh cover.

Traditional women-specific plans like LIC's costs nearly Rs 2 lakh for Rs 25 lakh cover, cheaper compared to LIC's Jeevan Anand, which levies a premium of Rs 54,000 for a Rs 7-lakh cover.

But, financial planners warn against subscribing to insurance plans for investment. You could be better off drawing a line between your insurance and investment needs. Financial experts also don’t favour modified insurance products, instead they advise sticking to regular term and health insurance plans.

More from Sify: