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The below content is purely for informational purposes and is not intended to constitute advisory of any kind. Please note, these are in-depth articles which are best viewed on large screen devices like laptops, desktops and tablets. The position reflected in this article has been updated as of March 15, 2024.

Can NRIs apply for health insurance in India?

Amidst the dynamism of a significant life change, the importance of safeguarding your health should not be overlooked. As a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), health insurance in India might seem like a complex endeavour. You may wonder about its feasibility and accessibility. 

 

Eligibility for NRIs to purchase health insurance in India

NRIs are eligible to purchase health insurance in India. However, this eligibility is subject to the underwriting process of the respective insurance company. The underwriting process involves assessing the risk profile of the applicant, determining coverage, and setting premiums. NRIs can not only purchase new health insurance policies but are also allowed to continue holding existing health insurance plans.

Please note, a medical test may be mandatory to buy health insurance in India, especially for applicants with pre-existing conditions or older individuals. A medical test helps insurance policies assess the individual's health status accurately. Depending on the underwriting policy of the insurance providers, NRIs who are not in India for their medical check-up may require a medical underwriting process. During this, they may be asked for detailed information about their medical history. This may include information about any pre-existing conditions, past hospitalisations, or ongoing treatments.

Additionally, Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) are also allowed to purchase health insurance in India. The terms and conditions, as well as the approval process, are determined by the concerned insurance company. 

 

Procedure to apply for health Insurance in India

The process of applying for NRI health insurance in India can differ based on whether you are purchasing the policy while you are visiting India or from abroad. Here are the steps for the same:

  1. Direct purchase in India: You can purchase insurance products directly through the branches or websites of your Indian insurance company or bank when you visit India.
  2. Online purchase from abroad: You have the option to buy health insurance online through the website of your chosen insurance company or bank while residing outside India.

 

NRI health insurance and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations

Enacted in 1999 by the Government of India, FEMA consolidates laws related to the regulation and management of foreign exchange. According to FEMA rules, the claim amount payable under health insurance for NRIs can be in Indian rupees if the premiums were paid in Indian rupees. Moreover, claims outside India, especially in the case of global coverage by Indian insurers, can be settled in foreign currency. However, the settlements in foreign currency are contingent on the amount of premium paid in that specific foreign currency.

 

Understanding the benefits of health insurance for NRIs in India

Choosing health insurance for NRIs in India holds several advantages, such as comprehensive coverage, financial protection against medical expenses, and the flexibility to manage health-related contingencies while residing abroad.

 

Benefits provided by health insurance policies offered by health insurance companies

 

To be added by ICICI Lombard

 

Benefits provided by health insurance policies offered by life insurance companies

The benefits provided by health insurance policies offered by life insurance companies are typically lump-sum payments paid upon the diagnosis of covered medical illnesses. These benefits are applicable globally and are payable regardless of where the illness is diagnosed. However, the jurisdiction of the policy contract rests with the Indian courts, as stipulated in the terms and conditions of your health policy.

While you have the flexibility to avail of treatment anywhere in the world, a medical practitioner's certificate is required when making a claim. The certificate must be issued by a licensed medical professional registered with the Medical Council of any State, the Medical Council of India, or the Council for Indian Medicine or Homeopathy established by the Government of India or a State Government. However, it is important to note that the said medical practitioner cannot be either of the three parties mentioned below:

  1. You (the insured);
  2. An individual who has a blood or marital relationship with you;
  3. An individual who shares the same residence as you

*Under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961

Did you know?

NRIs below 60 years of age can claim a tax deduction* of up to ₹50,000 in a Financial Year (April–March) for the premium paid towards a health insurance plan for themselves their family including dependent parents much like Indian residents.

Can NRIs get a Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund on health insurance in India?

As an NRI getting health insurance in India, you can also benefit from an 18% GST refund. However, the refund process must be initiated by you (policyholder). You can avail of a GST refund for yourself or a family member in India if you fulfill the below conditions:

  • Pay your premiums annually using a Non-Resident External Account (NRE) account only.
  • Ensure your stay abroad exceeds 182 days, or you qualify as an NRI under the Income Tax Act 1961.
  • Make sure you are insured with an active health insurance plan.
  • Give the bank statements of your NRE account for the last six months, highlighting the transactions for premium payments.
  • Submit a copy of your Know Your Customer (KYC) documents, such as a passport or Aadhaar card.
  • Provide international address proof, a Tax Residency Certificate (TRC), and a recent photograph.

 

When should you choose not to buy a health Insurance policy in India?

While health insurance is generally a prudent investment, there may be situations where NRIs might consider not buying health insurance in India. It is essential to consider several factors. For instance, if you have existing coverage in the host country, you may not need to buy a health insurance plan in India. Additionally, your personal financial considerations also play a role. Paying for multiple health insurance plans can be hard on the budget. If you have an active plan in the host country, you can let go of the plan in India. The duration of your stay in India may also influence your decision.

Conclusion

The option for NRIs to apply for health insurance in India may offer benefits such as global coverage, tax savings, and peace of mind. Engaging the services of a financial advisor may help you understand the implications of taking health insurance and financial planning.

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Disclaimer:

The contents of this article/infographic are meant solely for informational purposes. The contents are generic in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for specific advice on any matter whatsoever. The information is subject to updation, completion and verification and the applicable norms may keep changing materially from time to time. This information is also not intended for distribution or use by any person in any jurisdiction where such distribution or use would be contrary to applicable laws or would subject ICICI Bank Limited/its affiliates to any licensing or registration requirements. ICICI Bank Limited/its affiliates and their representatives shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses or liability incurred arising in connection with any decision taken by any person on the basis of this content. Please conduct your own due diligence and consult your financial advisor before making any decision. Terms and conditions of ICICI Bank and third parties apply. ICICI Bank is not responsible for third party services. Nothing contained herein shall constitute or be deemed to constitute an advice, invitation or solicitation to avail any products/ services of third parties.