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All you need to know about restoration benefit in health insurance

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The restoration benefit option is an in-built feature in almost every other extensive health insurance plan. Heres all you need to know about it and how to make the best of it.

After enduring a long and eventful period of COVID-19, its natural to ponder over the adequacy of your health insurance cover. Whether the plan can cover prolonged hospitalisation or will it fall short if more family members need it? Many policyholders second-guess their choice of plan, given the current times. Bring in the soaring medical inflation into the picture and the possibility of exhausting your sum insured in a single hospitalisation doesnt seem so far-fetched after all. This is where the restoration benefit in health insurance comes to your rescue. Its the simplest way to add an extra layer of protection for yourself and your loved ones against an expected medical crisis – or perhaps more.

The restoration benefit in health insurance is a feature that reinstates the total sum insured in case it gets exhausted any time within the policy period. This feature has found many takers amongst the people who opt for family floater plans. This especially works for these plans because the sum insured is shared by the whole family, and the benefit stands to cover more than one family members hospitalisation expenses.

The restoration benefit option is an in-built feature in almost every other extensive health insurance plan. Heres all you need to know about it and how to make the best of it.

How Restoration Benefit Works

Simply put, restoration benefit restores the original sum insured amount if the policyholder uses it up any time during the policy period. For instance, you have a family floater plan of Rs 5 lakh, and have to undergo a sudden surgery that exhausts Rs 4 lakh. Now, if any of the other family members need hospitalisation that costs another Rs 2 lakh, the balance of Rs 1 lakh will have to be paid out of your pocket. However, if you have the restoration benefit feature in your policy, the original amount of Rs 5 lakh would be replenished as soon as the sum insured is exhausted in full.

Types of Restoration Benefits

There are two kinds of restoration benefits –

# Complete exhaustion – Here, the restoration benefits come into the picture only when the whole sum insured gets exhausted. If the entire sum is not exhausted, the benefit wont get triggered and the policyholder would have to pay the balance amount out of pocket. Suppose, you have a cover of Rs 5 lakh and your heart surgery uses up Rs 4 lakh. Now, if you need Rs 2 lakh additionally for an unrelated claim in the same year, the restoration benefit wont get triggered because your original sum insured is not completely exhausted.

# Partial exhaustion – Under this, the benefits can be availed even if some amount of sum insured gets used up. Some insurers offer to cover a second claim amount even if theres some amount left from your sum insured. Take the above case here, and the restoration benefit will get triggered in case of partial exhaustion. So, your second claim will be covered as well even if you have Rs 1 lakh left out of your original sum insured.

Check with your insurer on the terms and conditions of both these types and opt for the one that best fits your needs. Also, your family history comes as an important deciding factor before choosing the restoration benefit.

What To Check Before Opting For It

Heres your checklist before opting for restoration benefit in your health plan:

# The restoration benefit feature makes the premium costlier. Dont forget to ask how this is going to affect your premium.

# The most important rule to remember is that restoration benefit gets triggered only for unrelated medical claims. Suppose you exhaust your sum insured over a heart surgery, then usually the restoration benefit will not cover a second heart-related claim in the same year. Understand from your insurer the type of claim they will cover and also the quantum of restoration benefit that will be covered. For instance, Aditya Birla Capital offers a restoration cover of 150% of the sum insured for a non-related illness for a cover of Rs 5 lakh. However, Max Bupa Health Insurance offers unlimited restoration of the sum insured for related as well as non-related illness for the same cover of Rs 5 lakh.

# Check with your insurer on the relevant conditions that apply for the same or different illnesses for different family members.

# The restoration sum insured usually cannot be carried forward to the next year even if you do not use it till its validity.

# Check if the benefit will trigger if the sum insured gets exhausted in a single claim or if it works in the case of multiple claims as well.

# Lastly, dont just depend on restoration benefit for your protection. Rather, always opt for a higher sum insured to ensure your plan can take care of medical emergencies.

(By Amit Chhabra, Head-Health Insurance, Policybazaar.com)

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Boeing, airline stocks tumble as new Covid variant spurs travel curbs

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Boeing, airlines and other travel stocks tumbled on Friday after several European and Asian countries announced new travel restrictions from southern Africa because of a new Covid variant.

European Union member nations on Friday agreed to suspend travel from the region, a day after the U.K. said it would temporarily suspend flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

The U.S. starting Monday will bar entry to visitors from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The Biden administration announced that decision after the stock market closed on Friday.

South African scientists detected the variant, which contains high numbers of mutations, raising concerns that it could spread quickly.

Health officials cautioned more research is needed, but the new travel restrictions highlight how quickly countries can limit travel as new variants are detected. The fast-spreading delta variant of the virus earlier this year drove down travel demand and prompted some companies to delay employees’ return to the office.

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers like Boeing have been upbeat about a rebound in travel demand, particularly from a recent drop in cases and after the U.S. lifted entry restrictions earlier this month.

Travel and aerospace shares fell more than the broader market on Friday but several pared earlier losses. Boeing shares dropped 5.4% to $199.21 during an abbreviated, post-holiday session.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are the only U.S. carriers with nonstop service scheduled to and from South Africa next month. United lost 9.6% to close at $42.26, while Delta fell 8.3% to $36.38. American Airlines dropped 8.8% to $17.75. Hotel giant Hilton dropped 6.3% to $136.21, while Marriott ended down 6.5% at $147.44.

There are 122 flights between the U.S. and South Africa scheduled for December, according to aviation consulting firm Cirium. United, which has the most scheduled service with 87 flights, is set to resume nonstop flights between its Newark, New Jersey, hub and Cape Town next month. A spokeswoman said no changes are currently planned.

Delta has 35 scheduled flights between the U.S. and South Africa in December.

“Delta will continue to work closely with our government partners to evaluate any changes to U.S. policy,” the airline said in a statement.

British Airways will operate 214 flights between London and South Africa next month, while Virgin Atlantic will operate 75, according to Cirium.

“Following the latest announcement from the Health Secretary we’re working through plans for our customers and colleagues currently in South Africa and those due to travel from the UK in the coming days,” British Airways, an American Airlines partner, said in a statement. The carrier said it would contact customers affected by the changes.

Delta’s transatlantic partner Virgin Atlantic said it would cancel flights from Johannesburg from Friday to early Sunday because of the new U.K. rules.

On Nov. 8, the Biden administration lifted a broad pandemic travel ban on most non-citizens visiting from more than 30 countries, including the U.K., the EU, South Africa and Brazil.

Though domestic travel had largely recovered from early pandemic lockdowns, international travel remained a missing piece in airlines’ recovery.

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S. and generally one of the busiest travel days of the year, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.3 million people. That was the most since February 2020, though still 12% below the same day in 2019.

CNBC’s Matt Clinch contributed to this article.

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International travel: India updates rules, tells states to strictly monitor incoming passengers from these countries!

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These countries are a part of Indias list of at-risk countries

Foreign travellers in India new rules: On Thursday, the Union Health Ministry gave some new rules for foreign travellers. States were directed by the Centre that international travellers transiting via or coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana needed to undergo rigorous testing as well as screening. This is because the new heavily mutated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 is spreading in these countries with multiple cases having been reported there. Notably, India has already dealt with the severe Delta variant earlier this year in a major second wave, and so, it makes sense that the advisory was issued as soon as concerns regarding the variant started making rounds in the scientific community.

Also read | South African scientists detect new virus variant amid spike

A report in IE cited Rajesh Bhushan, the Health Secretary, as saying that as per the National Centre for Disease Control in India, Botswana has reported four cases of the new variant, Hong Kong has reported two, while South Africa has reported 22 cases. The Health Secretary also said that since the variant B.1.1.529 has a very high number of mutations, it can be a severe issue for India considering the fact that the country has been relaxing visa norms and opening up its doors to international travel after having remained shut to a large extent for over a year. These factors make it imperative that an advisory is issued to ensure that relaxed norms do not lead to an issue for public health in India.

These countries are a part of Indias list of at-risk countries, and therefore, international travellers coming from or coming via these places would need to undergo strict screening and testing procedures. Apart from this, the contacts of such travellers would also be tracked closely.

With this, if any sample from travellers tests positive for COVID-19, states would have to send it to the labs designated under INSACOG or Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium. INSACOG tracks as well as monitors the COVID-19 variants that are of concern and of interest in India for their emergence and transmission. Apart from this, the state surveillance officers would need to coordinate with INSACOG labs and follow the test-track-treat principle to prevent the variant from transmitting.

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Oil drops 13% in worst day of 2021, breaks below $70 as new Covid variant sparks global demand concerns

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Working oil pumps against a sunset sky.

Imaginima | E+ | Getty Images

Oil posted its worst day of the year on Friday, tumbling to the lowest level in more than two months as the new Covid-19 strain sparked fears about a demand slowdown just as supply increases.

The leg lower came amid a broad sell-off in the market with the Dow dropping more than 900 points. The World Health Organization warned Thursday of a new Covid variant detected in South Africa. It could be more resistant to vaccines thanks to its mutations, although the WHO said further investigation is needed.

U.S. oil settled 13.06%, or $10.24, lower at $68.15 per barrel, falling below the key $70 level. It was the contract’s worst day since April 2020. WTI also closed below its 200-day moving average a key technical indicator for the first time since November 2020.

International benchmark Brent crude futures slid 11.55% to settle at $72.72 per barrel.

Both contracts registered their fifth straight week of losses for the longest weekly losing streak since March 2020.

A decrease in travel and potential new lockdowns, both of which could hit demand, come just as supply is about to increase.

“It appears that the discovery of a Covid-19 variant in southern Africa is spooking markets across the board. Germany is already limiting travel from several nations in the affected region,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital. “The last thing that the oil complex needs is another threat to the air travel recovery,” he added.

On Tuesday the Biden Administration announced plans to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The move is part of a global effort by energy-consuming nations to calm 2021s rapid rise in fuel prices. India, China, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. will also release some of their reserves.

“This [the sell-off] is attributable to concerns about a sizeable oversupply in early 2022 that is set to be brought about by the upcoming release of strategic oil reserves in the US and other major consumer countries, plus the ongoing steep rise in new coronavirus cases,” noted analysts at Commerzbank. “Furthermore, an even more transmissible variant of the virus has been discovered in South Africa, prompting a noticeable increase in risk aversion on the financial markets today.”

OPEC and its oil-producing allies are set to meet on Dec. 2 to discuss production policy for January and beyond. The group has slowly eased the historic output cuts it agreed to in April 2020 as the coronavirus sapped demand for petroleum products. Since August the group, known as OPEC+, has returned 400,000 barrels per day to the market each month.

The group has maintained its gradual taper despite calls from the White House and others to hike output as oil prices surged to multi-year highs. West Texas Intermediate crude futures hit a seven-year high in October, while Brent rose to a three-year high.

U.S. oil is now down more than $15 since its October high of $85.41.

“The coordinated SPR release is getting a second look, as well, especially with OPEC decrying it and asserting that the release will tip the global market back into surplus. The release is much more than just a drop in the bucket,” added Kilduff.

Energy stocks followed oil lower on Friday, and the group was the worst-performing S&P 500 sector, falling more than 4%. Devon Energy, APA and Occidental were among the biggest losers.

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