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

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

Many national health policies will not work

Health coverage will depend on the type of health insurance policy you have purchased. Most comprehensive health insurance policies purchased from Indian health insurance providers generally do not offer treatment coverage outside India. “Most of the national health insurance policies provide coverage for medical issues in India only. So, in case of illness or accident in a foreign country, the person will have to bear the cost of treatment out of their own pocket,” says Abhishek Misra, CEO. & Chief Executive Officer of Bonanza Insurance.

Policies with worldwide coverage will work with limitation

There are many health insurance policies in India that provide worldwide coverage. If you have such a policy, your chances of getting treatment coverage are higher. Some examples of policies that provide overseas medical coverage are: 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).

Keep in mind that even if you have a policy that offers worldwide coverage, there is no guarantee of coverage in a situation like Ukraine. Being stuck in a foreign country during a war is an extraordinary situation that most health insurance policies don’t cover. “In the event of a Ukrainian crisis, claims are unfortunately subject to rejection. Several insurers have exclusions of ‘war and event or invasion of war, acts of foreign enemies, hostilities, civil war, rebellion, military or usurped power’ , says Rakesh Goyal, Director, Probus Insurance.

Although your World Health Cover will no longer work in an active War Zone, it will come in handy as soon as you reach a nearby country where World Cover will work.

What should you do?

If your stay abroad is for a short period, such as a vacation or a business trip, etc. ending in a few weeks, you may not need to purchase a foreign health plan. “People going abroad for a short period can opt for a travel insurance policy as it covers medical expenses for treatment abroad,” says Misra.

If your stay is going to be much longer for purposes such as studies or employment, it is best to take out local health insurance in the foreign country of your residence. “For those moving to a foreign country, for longer durations, it is strongly advised to take out 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’s up to the person to decide. “Whenever a student travels to any country outside of India, especially the United States and Europe, he is required to have a health insurance policy. These policies take care of all emergencies facilities on campus,” says Goyal.

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