Extend health cover to HIV patients, rural areas: IRDA

The Insurance Regulatory Authority of India said on Thursday that HIV-affected patients should get health cover for ailments not connected with their primary disease, as is the practice in several other countries.

"Insurance cover will not be given for HIV disease but for other ailments which are not directly related to that disease, and this inclusion of HIV patients in insurance cover will happen," IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan told a conference in New Delhi. He urged insurance companies to reconsider the reasons for the blanket ban on cover for HIV+ patients.

The regulator is also looking into the issue of allowing banks to sell insurance products of more than one insurance company.

"The committee on bancassurance has recommended that banks be permitted to go with two insurance companies, rather than the single tie-up now permitted. But the issue is that there are certain weaknesses in current bank insurance companies. We are looking into whether the recommendations of the committee (set up for the purpose) will check these gaps," Narayan said.

Narayan also said the insurance regulator is considering issuing guidelines on rural insurance products, pricing, coverage and servicing, as it is unhappy with insurers not really meeting their rural and social obligations.

The Insurance Act requires companies to give a proportion of insurance sales to people below a certain income level. It also requires these companies to sell a proportion of their policies in rural areas.