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The justification of a waiting period in a Health Insurance Policy

By Deepak Yohannan

The Justification of a Waiting Period in a Health Insurance
Health insurance is primarily sought to get protected against unforeseen health problems. You want to be covered at all times. It is therefore a little annoying when you are put on waiting and are at the insurer's mercy to have the policy started. This is how a lot of people view the waiting period in a health insurance policy, but there are some very valid points of justification for having the waiting period. An insurance company is out in the market to do business and earn profits.

And it is understandable that any claim made is practically a loss for them. As a result, every insurance company tries to minimize the number of claims. Since health insurance is a sector where claims are regularly made, the waiting period has been introduced in all Health Insurance Plans so that the claims can be curbed, but in a justifiable manner.


Types of waiting periods and how they work

1. Initial waiting period

Almost all health insurance policies commence after 30 days (it can go up to 90 days in some cases too) of purchasing the policy. In other words, you will not be covered by the policy for any ailment you suffer in the initial 1 month or so, apart from an accidental injury or illness which will require a minimum of 24 hours' hospitalization.

2. Exclusion waiting period

This is the second and most common kind of waiting in health insurance. This means that if you have a pre-existing medical condition, the insurance company will make you wait for particular period of time (usually decided upon at the time of sale of the policy) before commencing your policy. For example, if you have had a bypass surgery recently, the health insurance plan will exclude all heart related ailments for the next 6 months (some policies also have waiting periods up to 48 months). This is done as the insurance companies do not want to pay for illnesses that are almost certain to happen.


3. Employer waiting period

Here, the employer puts an employee on a waiting period before the health insurance benefits from the company commences. This is done to ensure that an employee consolidates his position in the company before receiving the benefits.

4. Maternity waiting period

You cannot avail of a maternity policy after you get pregnant. In other words, you need to plan your pregnancy well in advance in order to receive the benefits. Maternity insurance policies in India usually come with waiting periods between 9-48 months.

Health insurance is almost mandatory in today's day and age and it is not a good idea for anyone to live without a health plan. And since you now know how long you have to wait to get a health plan running and why, it is strongly advisable to buy one today if you haven't already. Different policies have different clauses so read the fine print to see which policy would suit you and how. There also are different health insurance policies with different kinds of coverage. So compare the policies online or speak to your agent and then purchase a good health insurance policy.

For more articles by Deepak Yohannan, please visit

Read more about: insurance
Story first published: Friday, September 28, 2012, 9:26 [IST]
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