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This article was first published 13 years ago  » Business » Now fitness mantra to woo insurance buyers

Now fitness mantra to woo insurance buyers

By Tinesh Bhasin
October 01, 2010 12:05 IST
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'We will help you stay fit' seems to be the new mantra of many insurance companies. Three big players -- ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance and Apollo Munich -- have launched policies in tie-ups with spas, gymnasiums, yoga institutes, diagnostic centres and health food retailers to offer discounts to customers on these services and products.

"Health insurance as a concept is associated with illness and hospitalisation. Our policy – 'Jiyo Fit' – is an endeavour to shift from managing a customer's illness to promoting a fit and healthy lifestyle," says Hemant Kaul, CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

But one cannot ignore the incentives. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance's 'Jiyo Fit', launched in association with YES Bank, allows a policyholder to open a zero-balance savings account with the bank. The debit card will get him discounts on products and services from partners. It also doubles up as a loyalty card.

If you enroll yourself in a partner gym, you can get a 30-35 per cent discount on the card rate. Additionally, you get 25 points each time you hit the gym. A policyholder can redeem the accumulated points against certain products. The product list includes body-touch thermometers, blood pressure checking machines and durables like mobile handsets and digital cameras.

At ICICI Lombard General Insurance, these offers keep changing. Members can avail themselves of a 10-15 per cent discount on various tests, which cost Rs 2,000-3,000 at partner diagnostic centres. These include lipid profiling, stress tests and cholesterol tests.

"Such tests can detect illness at an early stage so that it can be arrested soon. Gym discounts can, therefore, help a policyholder start working on his/her fitness and get back to health," says Sanjay Datta, head, health, customer service and accident, ICICI Lombard General Insurance.

However, financial experts say adopting a healthy lifestyle should not be a reason to buy an insurance policy. "The buyer needs to keep the primary function of medical insurance in mind. He should prioritise the diseases covered, the limits on cost and treatment of diseases, network hospitals and the claim settlement history of the company," says Sudhir Sarnobat, director, Medimanage, an insurance broking firm.

Moreover, drop-out rate at gyms is high, and spa therapy does not help much in health-related ailments. Rahul Aggarwal, CEO, Optima Insurance Brokers, says, "It makes economic sense if insurance companies provide discounts in areas where one regularly incurs expenses related to health care, say, medicines." Bajaj Allianz General Insurance is the only one offering discounts on medicines.

The services provided make sense either for an existing customer or if the discounts on offer fit your needs. Other services like consultation via internet or telephone are standard across insurance companies.

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Tinesh Bhasin
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