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The below content is purely for informational purposes and is not intended to constitute advisory of any kind. Please note, these are in-depth articles which are best viewed on large screen devices like laptops, desktops and tablets. The position reflected in this article has been updated as of April 15, 2024.

Amidst the dynamism of a significant life change, the importance of safeguarding your health should not be overlooked. As a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), health insurance in India might seem like a complex endeavour. You may wonder about its feasibility and accessibility. 

Here’s a guide to help you navigate India’s NRI health insurance space.


Eligibility for NRIs to purchase health insurance in India

NRIs can not only purchase new health insurance policies but are also allowed to continue holding existing health insurance plans. However, this eligibility is subject to the underwriting process of the respective insurance company. The underwriting process involves assessing the risk profile of the applicant, determining coverage, and setting premiums.

Please note, a medical test may be mandatory to buy health insurance in India, especially for applicants with pre-existing conditions or older individuals. This helps insurance providers assess the individual's health status accurately. Depending on the underwriting policy of the insurance providers, NRIs who are not in India for their medical check-ups may require a medical underwriting process. During this, they may be asked for detailed information about their medical history, including information about any pre-existing conditions, past hospitalisations, or ongoing treatments.

Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs) are also allowed to purchase health insurance in India. The terms and conditions, as well as the approval process, are determined by the concerned insurance company. 


Procedure to apply for health Insurance in India

The process of applying for NRI health insurance in India can differ based on whether you are purchasing the policy while you are visiting India or from abroad. Here are the steps for the same:

  1. Direct purchase in India: You can purchase insurance products directly through the branches or websites of your Indian insurance company or bank when you visit India
  2. Online purchase from abroad: You have the option to buy health insurance online through the website of your chosen insurance company or bank while residing outside India


NRI health insurance and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regulations

Enacted in 1999 by the Government of India, FEMA consolidates laws related to the regulation and management of foreign exchange. According to FEMA regulations, the claim amount payable under health insurance for NRIs can be in Indian rupees if the premiums were paid in Indian rupees. Moreover, claims outside India, especially in the case of global coverage by Indian insurers, can be settled in foreign currency. However, settlements in foreign currency are contingent on the amount of premium paid in that specific foreign currency.


Benefits of health insurance for NRIs in India

Choosing health insurance for NRIs in India holds several advantages, such as comprehensive coverage, financial protection against medical expenses, and the flexibility to manage health-related contingencies while residing abroad.


Health insurance policies offered by life insurance companies

The benefits provided by health insurance policies offered by life insurance companies are typically lump-sum payments paid upon the diagnosis of covered medical illnesses. These benefits are applicable globally and are payable regardless of where the illness is diagnosed. However, the jurisdiction of the policy contract rests with the Indian courts, as stipulated in the terms and conditions of your health policy.

While you have the flexibility to avail of treatment anywhere in the world, a medical practitioner's certificate is required when making a claim. The certificate must be issued by a licensed medical professional registered with the Medical Council of any Indian state, the Medical Council of India, or the Council for Indian Medicine or Homeopathy established by the Government of India or a state government. However, it is important to note that the said medical practitioner cannot be either of the three parties mentioned below:

  1. You (the insured)
  2. An individual who has blood or marital relationship with you
  3. An individual who shares the same residence as you
Did you know?

Under Section 80D of the Income Tax Act, 1961, NRIs below 60 years of age can claim a tax deduction of up to ₹50,000 in a financial year (April–March) for the premium paid towards a health insurance plan for themselves and their family, including dependent parents, much like Indian residents.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund on health insurance for NRIs in India

As an NRI availing health insurance policies offered by life insurance companies in India, you can also benefit from an 18% GST refund. However, you (the policy holder) must initiate the refund process. You can avail of a GST refund for yourself or a family member in India if you fulfil the below conditions:

  • Pay your premiums annually using a Non-Resident External Account (NRE) account only
  • Your stay abroad exceeds 182 days, or you qualify as an NRI under the Income Tax Act, 1961
  • Your health insurance plan is active
  • Give the bank statements of your NRE account for the last six months, highlighting the transactions for premium payments
  • Submit a copy of your Know Your Customer (KYC) documents, such as a passport or Aadhaar card
  • Provide international address proof, a Tax Residency Certificate (TRC), and a recent photograph


Considerations for buying health insurance policy in India

While health insurance is generally a prudent investment, there may be factors where NRIs might consider not buying health insurance in India. For instance, if you have existing coverage in the host country, additionally, paying for multiple health insurance plans can be hard on the finances. The duration of your stay in India may also influence your decision.


The option for NRIs to apply for health insurance in India may offer benefits such as global coverage, tax savings, and peace of mind. Engaging the services of a financial advisor may help you understand the implications of buying health insurance and, in turn, help you plan your finances.

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