The number of Covid-19 infections worldwide is nearing 250,000 and the death toll has exceeded 10,000, while the number of new patients diagnosed with the deadly virus in Thailand is rising rapidly.
An infected patient's medical expenses may be more than 100,000 baht, as a patient recently posted on Facebook, triggering a panic-buying stampede for virus insurance policies. Yet a Public Health Ministry official later said the government will shoulder all medical expenses for patients infected with Covid-19.
Taking out a coronavirus policy may offer some peace of mind, assuring policyholders they will avoid financial difficulty if infected.
However, those who are shopping for insurance policies with exclusive coronavirus coverage could get a headache from such products' terms of coverage and conditions.
Insurance with Covid-19 coverage available on the market can be grouped into two types: a lump-sum payment when diagnosed with the virus, and medical bill coverage.
Although the insurance premium is seemingly affordable, in a range of 99-1,250 baht, some may find it a waste of money to take out some Covid-19 insurance policies, given overlapping coverage.
Knong Sripiboolpanich, vice-president of K-Expert under Kasikornbank (KBank), said people should check the existing medical benefits they have before taking out Covid-19 coverage.
Given that the government takes responsibility for treatment of all Covid-19 patients, those who plan to buy policies, particularly self-employed workers, retirees and those who lack regular income, should pick policies that provide either compensation benefits pending treatment or a lump-sum payment when diagnosed with the virus.
Apart from the government's subsidy for medical expenses, Social Security Fund members and policyholders of life and health insurance are entitled to Covid-19 medical benefits, but the coverage amount differs depending on their rights, Mr Knong said.
"We should take out Covid-19 insurance to help us feel relief," he said. "Even though we get free medical treatment, we still have other expenses and the insurance benefits can alleviate these burdens. Freelancers, in particular, are recommended to buy it."
He suggested that those looking to take out Covid-19 insurance thoroughly consider the details and conditions, especially the insurance waiting period.
According to a Bangkok Post survey, policies from Syn Mun Kong Insurance and Deves Insurance are considered more attractive than others offering lump-sum payouts, given their low premium for similar insurance coverage amounts.
Syn Mun Kong is selling two packages covering lump-sum payment: a 250-baht premium for 50,000 baht and a 450-baht premium for 100,000 baht, while Deves Insurance, which sells the product through Siam Commercial Bank, will pay 30,000 baht for Covid-19 patients who take out its insurance with a 150-baht premium package, 50,000 baht for a 220-baht package, and 100,000 baht for a 520-baht package.
Those who take out Deves Insurance's lump sum payout type will also be entitled to accidental death coverage at 10,000 baht for the 250 and 450-baht premium, and 50,000 for the 520-baht premium.
The lump-sum payout type offered by Asset Insurance through its own channel and TQM Broker Insurance is also recommended to be included in the shortlist. The insurer's 99-baht premium package will pay a lump sum of 15,000 baht if the insured person is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus infection, the 199-baht package pays 30,000 baht, the 290-baht package pays 50,000 baht and the 499-baht package pays 100,000 baht.
Asset Insurance's package also features accidental death benefit plus funeral expense at 6,000 baht for the 99-baht package, 9,000 baht for the 199-baht package, 12,000 baht for the 290-baht package and 16,000 baht for the 499-baht package.
In cases of those who want a lump-sum payout, coma coverage from the virus infection and daily compensation for hospitalisation, Muang Thai Insurance has a suitable package. The insurer offers a lump-sum payment for insured individuals with Covid-19 at 30,000 baht, a daily compensation of 1,000 baht for up to 15 days when admitted to hospital and 1.5 million baht for comatose patients.
For Covid-19 insurance with medical bill coverage, those who take out this insurance type are also offered coma coverage, while some insurance companies provide daily compensation for a certain period in return for a higher premium.
Deves Insurance, which sells through SCB and Dhipaya Insurance and is available on all channels with the exception of TQM Broker, offers the same premiums and benefits. Both provide four premium options -- 150 baht for 10,000 baht of treatment and 100,000 baht of coma coverage, 250 baht for 50,000 baht of medical and 100,000 baht of coma coverage, 450 baht for 50,000 baht of medical and 500,000 baht of coma coverage and 850 baht for 100,000 baht of treatment and 1 million baht of coma coverage.
Most Covid-19 insurance policies regardless of type require a 14-day waiting period and restrict each person to taking out one policy.
Among insurance companies and brokers offering Covid-19 insurance, Dhipaya Insurance caps medical bill coverage at 100,000 baht per person, while Thai Insurance allows each person to take out up to two policies.
Several insurance policies prohibit pilots, flight attendants, airport staff, doctors, nurses and hospital staff from taking out Covid-19 insurance or restrict them to buying a particular plan.
The age of insured persons is commonly limited to the range of 1 to 99, but some insurance firms require different age bands. For instance, Muang Thai Insurance allows those aged 1 to 80 to buy the insurance policy; Thai Insurance limits the insured person's age to between 1 and 65.
Apart from taking out Covid-19 insurance, some banks and life and healthcare insurance companies are offering complimentary coverage for the virus.
For instance, AIA Thailand's existing policyholders diagnosed with the virus until April 15 will receive daily hospitalisation compensation of 1,000 baht for up to 30 days and 50,000 baht if the coronavirus is the cause of death, free of charge.
KBank offers a daily compensation of 1,000 baht for up to 15 days and a 100,000-baht death benefit for those infected with the virus and who signed up to participate in the scheme via the bank's mobile banking app KPlus from Feb 29 to March 15 for 90-day coverage.