Buying Health Insurance? From Whom?

Health insurance:From the Company directlyYesMost companies do not sell health insurance to their customers directly. They assign the task to their agents who in turn sell health insurance to customers. However, there are certain companies that take the applications for health insurance directly from the customers. Here one needs to be well informed and aware as to the companies that are trustworthy and the ones that are fake. It is important for you to know how one company is different from the other in terms of benefits best suited to your needs. Another advantage of getting your insurance done directly from the company is that you are the sole decision taker, you are in direct touch with the company and know what is happening. There is no middleman involved here and you take your own decisions with regard to health insurance. Also, you know exactly which schemes have come up, and do not have to depend on the knowledge and awareness of either the agent or the broker, who tells you what to do.NoGetting your health insurance directly from the company means you have to interact with the company for every small issue. You have to personally visit the company each time; also it may even take days sometimes to get data from the company which a middleman (an agent or broker) would be able to get easily.
From the AgentYesAn agent is a person who helps you by getting you a health insurance policy through a company which he represents. As he represents a particular company, he is in the complete know-how of all the details pertaining to that company including available benefits, packages offered, the way things are processed there, the deadlines that need to be adhered to, the way claims are to be handled etc. He gives you that personalized touch, by volunteering to come over to your house for collecting documents and payments, for taking your signatures and for other important things. Importantly, an agent gives you all the necessary information as per you requirements, he advises you as to how you should go about investing, when to renew your policy, how to claim your money, when to get a top-up done etc. You simply have to give him your premium and he would do everything else for you.Besides, banks also provide health insurance to customers by having a tie-up with specific agents. This is a risk-free way of getting your health insured. However, you have to check which bank can provide you with the benefits that suit your particular health needs.NoAs agents represent a particular health insurance company and act on behalf of that company, some of them tend to get biased towards that particular insurance company. Also, as has been observed in a few cases, some agents do not provide customers with information pertaining to the packages offered by the other insurance companies in the market as their commissions are paid by the particular health insurance company they represent.Again, while buying a health insurance policy from your agent, it is important that you take a look at the policy wordings which contain the details of the policy. This will make the exclusions clear to you. (Exclusions are the finer details including pre-existing diseases, waiting period etc)As is sometimes observed, especially in India, some agents are mostly seen to specialize in life insurance, and just ‘happen’ to sell health insurance. They do not specialize in health insurance per say, hence the level of knowledge in the subject may be low.From the BrokerYesWhile an agent represents that company for which he works, a broker actually represents multiple insurance companies. The broker acts as a bridge between the insurance company and you. When you get yourself a health insurance policy from a broker, you will be given an option to choose from various different companies. You can then compare the benefits, the positives and negatives of the packages offered by each company and then zero in on the one best suited to your needs. The broker gives you a complete understanding as to which package by which company would best be applicable to your needs. As this way you get to do a thorough comparison between insurance companies, it is advisable to opt for the broker. Also, as the health insurance broking company gets the same per cent commissions from all the companies they represent, there remains little room for speculation and their neutrality remains intact.NoThough there are not many potential negatives associated with choosing a broker while buying yourself a health insurance plan, yet, a major glitch is in recognizing the right broker. Many a times, a particular broker, may have limited knowledge of the benefits each company offers, and he may tend to behave like an agent. Also, make it a point to check the credentials of the broking company through which you plan to get your health insurance done. Generally, a broking company has to have a minimum paid up capital of about 50 lakh rupees in order to apply for a license. This means that these companies cannot simply go into oblivion by-night.By going through the positives and negatives of the options, you can get a clear picture, thereby being able to make an informed choice and being the master of your own mind!