New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday asked the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) to call for proposed policies from insurance companies for persons with disabilities and expeditiously approve them after examination. Justice Prathiba M Singh, who had last year directed the regulator to call a meeting of all insurance companies to design products for persons with disabilities, observed that it is now mandatory for insurance providers to offer policies to them in terms of the IRDAI circular issued in February.
“Companies have to create a product for disabled persons in terms of the circular…This has to be done at some time. We have a social responsibility,” said the judge.
The court noted that pursuant to its earlier directions, the IRDAI called for a meeting and issued the circular dated February 27, 2023 in relation to persons with disabilities (PWDs) along with a model policy.
“It is now clear that the IRDAI has made it mandatory for all insurance companies to issue polices for PWDs, persons suffering from HIV/AIDS as also persons suffering from mental illness. Various conditions have been identified and in terms of the circular dated February 27, 2023. Every general and standalone health insurer has to mandatorily launch an offer in terms of the circular bearing in mind the model policy and conditions specified therein,” the court said.
The court was hearing petitions by certain persons suffering with disabilities who sought health insurance coverage from the providers. The court asked the three insurance companies involved in the matters before it to submit their policies with IRDAI by May 15 while seeking a status report from the regulator on the action taken by it.
“It is expected that all the said three companies would submit their respective products in terms of the circular dated February 27 to IRDAI by May 15. IRDAI shall examine the said policies and also call for all the proposed products from the other general insurance and standalone health insurance companies. IRDAI after perusing all the products which are being offered shall approve the same expeditiously,” the court ordered and listed the issue for further consideration in August.
“IRDAI shall call upon all insurance companies to submit their products in terms of the circular and model policy and file a status report in this respect,” said the court.
Last year, the court had said the right to life includes the right to health and healthcare is its integral part and persons with disabilities are entitled to health insurance coverage.
It had stated that insurance products would have to be designed to enable persons with disabilities to obtain health insurance coverage and they cannot be discriminated against.
One of the petitioners before the court is an investment professional who was confined to a wheelchair due to Tetraplegia and paralysis below his chest.
He had approached the court after two insurance companies refused to issue any health insurance policy to him.
The court has earlier said that the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance and that in the present case, the rejection of the petitioner’s proposal by the insurance companies with cryptic rejection letters was disconcerting.
“It is the settled position in law that the Right to Life includes the right to health and healthcare is an integral part of the same… The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 leaves no ambiguity insofar as the entitlement of persons with disabilities for insurance. A perusal of Sections 3, 25 and 26 makes it clear that person with disabilities cannot be discriminated against insofar as healthcare and other connected aspects are concerned,” the court had said.