COVID Transforms Indian Health And Wellness

A survey conducted by private non-life insurer has revealed that over the past 18 months, work stress has affected the mental health and wellbeing of a large section of those working from home (WFH).

The survey revealed that the pandemic has completely transformed the way the masses perceived wellness and the relation of mental health with wellbeing, with 86% of people equally engaging in activities to improve both physical as well as mental health. The survey aims to understand the proactive interest towards health and wellness in today’s post-pandemic era. This approach towards staying healthy is also visible in cherry-picking health and wellness products in a post-COVID world. The same is evident from the increasing awareness and demand for health insurance.

Relating mental health to overall wellness:

The study revealed that COVID-19 has taken a toll on the mental health of those who are partially working from home. The data showed a noticeable decrease in the health status proportion from 54% during pre-covid to 34% during the post- covid era. It also found that women were able to better maintain health compared to men.

Similarly, for physical fitness, women again maintain physical health better than men with 49% of women being satisfied as compared to 42% of men.

One Third Of COVID-19 Health Insurance Claims Still Pending

Indian insurers are yet to settle about 306,000 COVID health insurance claims totalling up to $1.44bn as of 6 August 2021. These are almost one-third of the total claims submitted by COVID-19 patients since the pandemic hit the country in the beginning of the financial year 2020-21.

Indian insurers received a total of 2.3m COVID-19 health insurance claims worth $3.94bn as on 6 August 2021 according to figures compiled by the General Insurance Council of India. However, insurance firms have settled claims only for $2.39bn involving 1.99m claims so far.

Of the total 2.3m claims around 1.32m claims worth $1.99bn were received between 1 April to 6 August 2021 during the current financial year 2021-22 while 986,000 claims for $1.96bn were reported during the previous financial year 2020-21.

According to insurers the sharp rise in COVID-19 claims has hit them substantially. Also, the average cost of a COVID-19 claim is twice the size of non-COVID claim, thus, making a substantial impact on the insurers.

South Asia: Bad Air Shortens Lifespan By An Estimated 5.6 Years On Subcontinent

South Asia is home to the most polluted countries on Earth, with prolonged exposure to air pollution cutting life expectancy short by 5.6 years if current levels persist, according to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) report released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

The estimated impacts are even greater across Northern India, the region that experiences the most extreme levels of air pollution in the world, say the authors Dr Ken Lee and Professor Michael Greenstone.

Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan account for nearly a quarter of the global population and consistently rank among the top five most polluted countries in the world. As a result, South Asia accounts for 60% of the person-years that are expected to be lost globally due to pollution levels exceeding the WHO guideline.

Reduced life expectancy:

India is the most polluted country in the world, with more than 480m people—or about 40% of the country’s population—living in the Indo-Gangetic plains of Northern India. The residents of this region, which includes the megacities of Delhi and Kolkata, are on track to lose more than nine years of life expectancy if 2019 concentrations persist.

Alarmingly, India’s high levels of air pollution have expanded geographically over time. Compared to a couple decades ago, particulate pollution is no longer a feature of the Indo-Gangetic plains alone. Pollution has increased so much in the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, for example, that the average person in those states is now losing an additional 2.5 to 2.9 years of life expectancy, relative to the early 2000s.

Madras HC Puts Off 5-year Motor Insurance Order Till September 13

Madras high court has kept its order on compulsory five-year bumper-to-bumper insurance for new vehicles with effect from September 1, 2021 in abeyance following a petition filed by the General Insurance Council. The court has posted the case for hearing on September 13 for all interested parties.

In its petition, the GI Council had sought clarification on the term ‘bumper-to-bumper’ as it was not a standard industry definition. It was not clear whether the court was referring to a package cover including both third-party and own damage. The industry also wanted clarification on the classes of vehicles for which the order would apply.

Coal Industry Being Hauled Over The Coals

Over 30 major global insurers have pledged no longer to insure any new coal project and also to withdraw their cover from the existing coal projects.

These decisions by the global insurance industry have had a major impact on the coal industry across the world and coal mining projects in Australia, US and several other countries are feeling the heat.

Ways around the problem:

According to insurance industry sources, coal companies can, however, work around these issues by innovating their policies. One way could be to break up the assets for separate policies and looking at combined limits. As of now, most global reinsurers are not writing any coal business on a facultative basis, but reinsurance can happen on a treaty basis.

Source – Asia Insurance Review, The Times Of India.

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