A comprehensive guide to health insurance waiting periods


03 Oct 2023

Learn about health insurance waiting periods.

It's important to understand that health insurance policy often comes with a waiting period. Health insurance provides valuable protection against medical expenses, ensuring access to quality healthcare when you need it most. However, waiting periods are specific timeframes during which certain benefits are not immediately available after purchasing or upgrading a health insurance plans. Kotak health insurance provides a comprehensive guide to health insurance waiting periods, helping you navigate the fine print about your coverage.

What is a waiting period?

A waiting period is a predetermined period during which you must wait before you can avail yourself of certain benefits under your health insurance policy. Waiting periods are designed to prevent individuals from purchasing medical insurance only when they need immediate medical attention. It allows providers to manage risk and ensure the long-term sustainability of their policies.

Types of waiting periods

  • Initial waiting period

This waiting period is applicable when you first purchase a mediclaim policy or switch to a new insurer. It typically ranges from 30 days to 90 days, during which no claims can be made, except for emergency hospitalization due to accidents.

  • Pre-existing condition waiting period

Health insurance policies or mediclaim often impose a waiting period for pre-existing conditions. This period can vary from a few months to several years, depending on the insurer and the policy. After the waiting period expires, you can claim coverage for treatments related to pre-existing conditions.

  • Waiting period for specific treatments

Certain health insurance policies may have waiting periods for specific treatments or procedures such as maternity coverage, cataract surgery, joint replacements or certain lifestyle diseases. The waiting period for these treatments can range from 12 months to 48 months. It's crucial to review the policy documents to understand the waiting periods associated with specific treatments.

Importance of understanding waiting periods

Understanding waiting periods is essential for managing your healthcare expenses effectively. Being aware of these waiting periods, can help you to plan about your healthcare needs. It allows you to assess whether the waiting periods align with your requirements and determine if the policy provides adequate coverage for your specific medical conditions.

Continuous coverage and waiting periods

Maintaining continuous coverage is crucial to reducing waiting periods when switching insurers or upgrading your policy. If you switch insurers without a break in coverage, the new insurer may honour the waiting period served with the previous insurer. This ensures that you can access benefits without additional waiting periods, provided you have served the waiting period with your previous insurer.

Exceptions to waiting periods

Certain situations may exempt you from serving waiting periods or reduce their duration:

  • If you port your health insurance policy from one insurer to another, the new insurer may waive or reduce waiting periods based on the waiting period served with the previous insurer.

  • If you have transitioned from a group policy to an individual policy, waiting periods may be reduced or waived, depending on the terms of the policy.

  • If you renew your policy without a break in coverage, waiting periods already served will continue to be valid and you won't need to serve them again.

What to consider when choosing a policy?

When selecting a health insurance policy, it's essential to carefully review the waiting periods associated with the coverage. Consider the following factors:

  • Opt for policies with shorter waiting periods for pre-existing conditions or consider policies that offer coverage from day one for specific ailments. If you have pre-existing conditions, evaluate the waiting period imposed.

  • Choose policies that have shorter waiting periods for treatments relevant to your healthcare needs. If you anticipate the need for specific treatments or procedures in the future, review the waiting periods associated with them.

  • Portability options and policy renewals without a break in coverage can help reduce or eliminate waiting periods. If you are upgrading your policy, ensure that you maintain continuous coverage to minimise waiting periods.


Understanding health insurance waiting periods is crucial for effectively managing your healthcare expenses and ensuring timely access to medical benefits. Take a glance with kotak health insurance about waiting periods and choose a policy that meets your healthcare needs while minimising waiting times.

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Team Kotak GIC

The content of this blog has been created and carefully reviewed by the esteemed team at Kotak General Insurance, with the sole purpose of providing valuable guidance and sharing insights on the importance of general insurance. Our objective is to assist users in making informed decisions when purchasing or renewing insurance policies for their cars, bikes, and health. Our expertly curated information aims to empower our readers with the knowledge they need to protect their valuable assets and financial interests.