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Cabs - The New Ambulances? A Review!

Team Beshak
By Team Beshak
We breathe insurance :)
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What's inside? 🧐

👉 Introduction
👉 App-Based Cab Cover - The Ins And Outs
👉 Advantages Of Having An App-Based Cab Cover
👉 So, What’s The Catch?
👉 What's The Beshak Take?


Medical emergencies can occur anytime, whether it's a sudden heart attack, accident, stroke, or any other health complication. In such critical situations, timely ambulance assistance can mean the difference between life and death. Every minute counts in these situations, and the longer the wait for an ambulance, the less likely it is that the patient will receive the necessary care in time. Any delay can have serious consequences for the patient's health and well-being. Did you know the response time of ambulances i.e. the time taken by the ambulance to reach the patient, travel between the hospital and patient’s address, and for it to reach the destination point, in India is around 15 to 20 minutes in major cities? It can be even higher in smaller cities and rural areas! Waiting this long can negatively affect the patient's prognosis - especially when they need immediate medical intervention.

According to Indian government data from 2017, it takes nearly half of all heart attack patients more than 6.5 hours to get to a hospital. This is almost 13X the ideal time span of 30 minutes. 

And, as per Sample Registration System (SRS) estimates (2015-17), 122 women on average, pass away during childbirth for every 1 lakh live births. This is majorly because of delays in accessing medical facilities.

As per the Times of India, 146,133 people were killed in road accidents in India in 2016 and about 30% of these deaths were caused by ambulance delays.

Sometimes your call can go unanswered or be left on hold for extended periods of time, leading to a feeling of helplessness during an emergency. Several factors may contribute to these challenges, including high demand, insufficient resources, and limited accessibility.  

To address these issues, insurers have introduced an innovative solution called App-based Cabs Coverage for ambulance-like services. You can book a cab in a matter of minutes using an app for transportation to the nearest hospital quickly. This helps reduce wait times and ensures that you get the care you need as soon as possible.

App-based cabs coverage is available with -

1️⃣ Royal Sundaram's Lifeline (Supreme Plus) Plan, and Lifeline (Elite Plus) Plan.

2️⃣ Royal Sundaram's Multiplier Plan

3️⃣ Reliance General’s Health Gain Plan.

Note: The cover may be offered with other plans as well.

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App-Based Cab Cover - The Ins And Outs

1️⃣ Royal Sundaram’s Lifeline (Supreme Plus) Plan and Lifeline (Elite Plus) Plan

In the Royal Sundaram’s Lifeline (Supreme Plus) Plan and Lifeline (Elite Plus) Plan, the app-based cover is available as part of the ambulance cover as an add-on. The charges for the cab used for transportation related to your admission to or discharge from the hospital will be covered.  

The benefit is only available on a reimbursement basis upon the submission of an invoice generated by an app-based cab service such as Ola, Uber, etc. that includes details such as date, location and time of pick-up and drop. This ensures that you are using the benefit as per the agreed guidelines and all the information regarding the cab ride is captured in the invoice. Please note that no handwritten paper invoices will be accepted. 

Benefits will only be available up to your plan's sub-limit of ambulance cover. The sub-limit is  up to Rs 5,000 per hospitalisation for Lifeline Supreme and up to Rs 10,000 per hospitalisation for Lifeline Elite Plus. Any expenses beyond this limit must be paid out of pocket.

2️⃣ Royal Sundaram Multiplier Plan

In the Royal Sundaram Multiplier Plan, the app-based cover is included as part of the ambulance cover. It covers app-based cab expenses for your transportation when getting admitted to the hospital. It takes care of reasonable and customary ambulance expenses (i.e. the standard rates for similarly graded ambulance services in the same locality) incurred during transportation to the nearest hospital with adequate facilities following a medical emergency. And, expenses up to Rs 5,000 per hospitalisation are covered. 

The benefit is only available on a reimbursement basis upon the submission of an invoice generated by a digital app-based cab service, that includes details such as date, location and time of pick-up and drop. This is to ensure that you are using a legitimate and registered cab service and to prevent any fraudulent activity or misuse of the benefit.

These charges will only be covered if your claim is accepted under inpatient hospitalisation. And, the benefits under this cover are payable up to the limit specified in the Product Benefits Table, and every claim you file will reduce the Sum Insured.

3️⃣ Reliance General Health Gain Plan

Under this plan, expenses incurred using registered cabs will be covered as long as the insurer accepts the hospitalisation claim under the inpatient benefit. Transportation costs to the nearest hospital and/or from hospital to home will be covered provided the claim is accepted under the inpatient benefit.

To take advantage of this benefit, be sure to provide the necessary documentation, a radio taxi bill, and a receipt. Also, expenses up to Rs 1,000 per hospitalisation are covered so, you should be prepared to pay for costs that exceed this limit.

App-based cabs coverage under this plan is a part of Convenience Covers, which also include Change in Pre-Post Hospitalisation Limit, Air Ambulance, and Convalescence Covers. You’ll have to opt for this entire set of 4 covers even if you want coverage under just one.

Here’s a quick comparative table of some specifics regarding the app-based cab coverage feature under the plans we’ve discussed above -

 Royal Sundaram Lifeline (Supreme Plus) PlanRoyal Sundaram Lifeline (Elite Plus) PlanRoyal Sundaram Multiplier PlanReliance General Health Gain Plan
Add-on or InbuiltAdd-onAdd-onInbuiltAdd-on
LimitsRs 5000 per hospitalisationRs 10,000 per hospitalisationRs 5000 per hospitalisationRs 1000 per hospitalisation
Cashless or ReimbursementReimbursementReimbursementReimbursement-NA-
Documents NeededInvoice by an app-based cab service with details like date, location, and time of pick-up and dropInvoice by an app-based cab service with details like date, location, and time of pick-up and dropInvoice by an app-based cab service with details like date, location, and time of pick-up and dropRadio taxi bill and receipt

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Advantages Of Having An App-Based Cab Cover

Let's check out the benefits of an app-based cab cover -

1️⃣ Convenience

A major advantage of app-based cab services is their accessibility and convenience. You can quickly find a cab through apps such as Ola, Uber, etc. It is like having a personal health chauffeur at your fingertips, allowing you to get around quickly and easily with just a few taps on your phone.

2️⃣ Accessible At Various Locations

Compared to traditional ambulances, these services are readily available and operate in a variety of areas. With these services, you can also track the real-time location of your driver, allowing you to monitor their progress.

3️⃣ Quick Service

The service can be particularly helpful in areas where ambulances may be delayed due to a lack of resources, or other logistical difficulties. By providing a quick and reliable response, it can be a valuable asset in times of need.

"There are two sides to every story" - for every positive, there is a negative, and it's important to look at both sides to get the full picture.

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So, What’s The Catch?

These plans, however unique they may seem, also have some drawbacks – 

1️⃣ There May Be a Limit

A sub-limit may be specified in your policy for app-based cab covers, which means that you will only receive coverage up to that limit. Any expenses exceeding this limit shall be your responsibility.

2️⃣ Medical Emergencies Can Necessitate Properly Equipped Transport

In medical emergencies, like say major blood loss where the patient will be in need of oxygen, an ambulance would be the right choice for transporting them to the hospital - since is staffed with medical professionals who can assess and treat the patient on the spot, and they are equipped with specialised medical equipment to help them do so. So, before you pick a transportation method, it is essential to evaluate the severity and nature of the medical condition. Cabs will not be very useful in a life-threatening situation.

3️⃣ Premiums Can Go Up At Any Time

These plans are competitively priced when compared to other top plans.

Health Insurance PlanPremium (INR)
HDFC Ergo - Optima Restore14,468
Niva Bupa - ReAssure 2.0 (Titanium+)11,409
Royal Sundaram - Lifeline Supreme (Plus)9094
Royal Sundaram - Multiplier9016
Reliance General - Health Gain12,002

Note: The premiums are for a sum insured of Rs 10 Lakhs, for 30-year-old male residing in zone 1, taken on 12.10.2023. They are inclusive of taxes.

The cost advantage of these plans, combined with the added benefit of app-based coverage, may entice you to buy them. However, health insurance is not a product with a fixed price. You may get a good deal at the beginning, but if insurers find that existing products are not viable, they can raise premiums. 

In addition, it is important to be aware that even the most competitively priced plans can become more expensive over time due to changing health insurance market dynamics. In the last few years, insurers have hiked premiums by 15-30% without such innovative features/benefits. So, it is hard to predict how much products with such features will cost in the future.

4️⃣ Features Or Products Can Be Revoked Anytime

Insurers can withdraw a product or a product feature at any time if their current terms and pricing are causing them losses. This means that insurance companies are not bound by their original product designs and can make changes to better suit their current financial position. It also allows them to respond quickly to changes in the market and ensure they remain profitable.

So, if you're buying these plans solely based on this innovative feature, you need to keep in mind that this feature that makes the product attractive may be scaled back or removed completely along with the product. After that, you may be moved to another product without this feature. Therefore, it is essential to take into account a range of factors when determining the long-term value of a product, rather than just the one feature which initially caught your eye.

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What's The Beshak Take?

Make sure you purchase health insurance based on the core benefits and not on the fancy features. It is like buying a smartphone based on its processor speed and memory, rather than focusing on flashy, gimmicky features that can add to the cost without providing much value or might disappear later.

The core coverage shall include an adequate sum insured, low or no financial limits on room charges, specific treatments, daycare, organ donation, domiciliary and modern treatments. Almost all other benefits and features are simply revocable benefits. 

Additionally, it is important to understand how these benefits may affect the pricing of your future premiums, as you see, nothing comes for free. So, pay attention to the core coverage of any health insurance plan you buy and make sure you are getting the best value for your money. 

Looking for detailed information about these features? Go for Beshak’s Free 1-To-1 Consultation and talk to an experienced financial advisor of your choice!

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Key takeaways
  1. App-based cab coverage is available as part of ambulance coverage in Royal Sundaram’s Multiplier Plan, Lifeline (Supreme Plus) Plan and Lifeline (Elite Plus) Plan, and Reliance General Health Gain Plan. 
  2. Having an app-based cover comes with many advantages, including accessibility, convenience, easy tracking, and more.
  3. However, it also has its own set of downsides. Cabs may be unsuitable for emergency situations requiring specialised equipment and they can be unavailable in rural areas.
  4. Furthermore, the premium of products with such benefits may increase in the future without prior notice.
  5. Insurers may even withdraw the feature/product or move you to another plan without this feature. 
  6. Therefore, it is important to prioritise the core coverage when selecting a health insurance plan - instead of focusing solely on the extra features.
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Team Beshak
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