Is the cheapest term insurance the best?

Many life insurance companies have hopped onto the online term insurance bandwagon. Since this is the simplest form of insurance on offer and a direct comparison of premium is possible. Couple of insurers have even entered a slugfest on who offers the cheapest term insurance policy.

These insurance covers that offer a pre-set death benefit are cheaper than the regular term insurance plans purchased through insurance agents and brokers. The benefit of online term plans is that one does away with the insurance middlemen and thus saves up on the commission paid to the agent out of your premium paid. Online term plans help you save 1/3 to ½ the premium paid for offline plans.

But then is premium the only consideration to opt for a term insurance plan, where the heir of the insured would get the sum assured upon the death of the policyholder. It has been observed that the chances of claims being rejected are higher when the cost of life insurance isn't commensurate with the actual risk involved. Policyholder declaration of health and existing conditions too are responsible for claim rejection.

Few other essential factors need to be considered. Here are five parameters that you should assess apart from premium to zero down on an online term insurance plan.

Maturity age offered: Insurance companies offer a maximum maturity age between 65-80 years of age. Higher the maturity age the better for you as higher the age more the chances of death and better the utilization of a term plan. LIC and SBI Life, which are public sector insurance companies, offer a 70 year maturity age, while HDFC Life offers a 65 year maturity age.

Higher policy term:Term insurance plan term used to be 25 years earlier. The scene is now changing. Insurers offer a term of 35-52 years as well. The higher the term, the better for you as you need not purchase a second term cover at higher age if you exhaust the term of the first one purchased early in life. HDFC Life, Bajaj Allianz, SBI Life have a term of 30 years. LIC, Reliance Life, Aviva Life and PNB Life provide a term of 35 years, while Tata AIA Life and India First offer a 40-year term.

Actual premium: The premium quoted online or through charts is just an indicative premium and your actual cost may escalate once your medical tests reveal your health condition. A smoker would have to cough up 25-30% more. So, find your actual premium before selecting options.

Claims rejection ratio:This is an important factor to be examined before taking the online term plan. An insurer may be offering the cheapest term plan, but if it rejects 40% of the claims then your money paid over the years may be down the drain.

Companies with strong financial background and reliable in terms of claim settlement should be looked at. As per IRDA, public sector life insurer has a claims ratio of 98.14%, while HDFC Life ranks third in terms of claims settlement by paying 94.01% of the claims received.

Keep an eye on the claims rejection ratio too which is indicative of the number of claims that have been declined by an insurer.

Ease of claim handling:Your heir should not be left running from pillar to post to make the insurance claim. Also, several insurers have a long list of pending claims. So, study the past record of the insurer before taking up the term plan. For instance, DLF Pramerica has a shocking 53.96% of its claims pending, while HDFC Life has only a mere 1.29% claims pending.


To avoid claim rejection later follow these ground rules:

1) Provide correct details in the health declaration as hiding past history of diseases and essential health related information could lead to claim rejection.
2) Stop agent from filling wrong details or better still fill the form yourself.
3) Don't opt for the single premium plan even though a discount is offered as thanks to the uncertainties of life you may or may not need to pay the premium for the whole term. The premium doesn't increase each year.
4) Inform the nominee you have appointed about the term policy you have purchased.
5) Don't fall for misselling offers of insurance agents that you will get back the entire amount you have invested, so the cost is zero. The money will be back upon death and the inflation cost as well as opportunity cost of money should be looked at from 15-20 years perspective.

Tags: Term insurance plan


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