health insurance: Will your Indian health insurance policy work abroad in Russia-Ukraine like crisis?

Medical emergencies can hit people anytime, whether they are living in a peaceful area or in an active war zone in a foreign country or going through a long excruciating journey in a war zone to reach its borders to a safer country. Getting emergency treatment becomes critical the moment you reach any place of safety in such a crisis abroad. So, it is important to know whether your health insurance policy purchased from an Indian health insurance provider will work in such situations or not.

Many domestic health policies won’t work

The health coverage will depend upon the kind of health insurance policy you have purchased. Most of the comprehensive health insurance policies purchased from Indian health insurance providers typically do not offer treatment coverage outside India. “Most domestic health insurance policies offer coverage for medical issues within India only. So, in case of illness or accidents in a foreign country, the person will have to bear the treatment costs from his/her own pocket,” says Abhishek Misra , CEO & Principal officer of Bonanza Insurance.

Policies with global coverage will work with limitations

There are many health insurance policies in India that offer global coverage. If you have bought such a policy, your chances of getting the treatment coverage are higher. Here are some examples of policies that offer overseas medical coverage: Activ Assure Diamond Plan from Aditya Birla Health Insurance, Global Personal Guard Plan from Bajaj Allianz Health Insurance, Health Connect Supra from Liberty Health Insurance, Heartbeat Health Plan from Niva Bupa Health Insurance (formerly known as Max Bupa Health Insurance).

Do keep in mind that even if you have a policy that offers global coverage, it is no guarantee for coverage in a Ukraine-like situation. Being stuck in a foreign country during a war is an extraordinary situation which most health insurance policies will not cover. “In case of Ukraine crisis-unfortunately claims are likely to get rejected. Several of the insurer providers have exclusions of ‘war and warlike occurrence or invasion, acts of foreign enemies, hostilities, civil war, rebellion, military or usurped power,'” says Rakesh Goyal, Director, Probus Insurance.

Though your global health cover may no longer work in an active war zone, however, it will come in handy the moment you reach a neighboring country where the global coverage will work.

What should you do?

If your stay abroad is for a short duration, like a holiday or business trip etc. concluding within a few weeks, you may not need to buy a foreign health plan. “People who are going abroad for a short duration can opt for a travel insurance policy as it covers medical expenses for treatments abroad,” says Misra.

In case your stay is going to be much longer for purposes like study or employment, it is better to get a local health insurance in the foreign country of your residence. “For those moving to a foreign country, for longer durations, it is highly advisable to purchase a new health insurance policy from that country to cover against medical emergencies,” says Misra.

While some countries have mandated people to buy a health plan, in others it is left to the person to decide. “Whenever any student goes to a country outside India-especially in US and Europe, they are required to have a health insurance policy. Such policies take care of any medical emergencies in the campus,” says Goyal.

However, in an active war zone the insurer may refuse to accept your claim even against the local health insurance plan. Once you move out of the foreign country, the local overseas policy may become redundant. So, having an active health insurance plan purchased in India with global coverage may be helpful once you move out of the active war zone.

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