Why in the news?

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has directed insurance companies to offer extensive coverage for prospective parents and surrogate mothers involved in surrogacy and fertility treatments.

What is the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI)?
IRDAI is the regulatory body responsible for overseeing and regulating the insurance industry in India.
Est. under ‘Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999’
The IRDAI sets guidelines and regulations for insurance companies, issues licences, and monitors their compliance with the regulatory framework.
It also promotes consumer education and awareness, ensures fair practices, and resolves disputes between insurers and policyholders.

What is meant by surrogacy?

Surrogacy is a process in which a woman, known as a surrogate or gestational carrier, agrees to carry and give birth to a child on behalf of another individual or couple.
It is an arrangement typically undertaken when a person or couple is unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy themselves due to various reasons such as infertility, medical conditions, or other circumstances.

Regulation of Surrogacy in India

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021 regulates surrogacy in India.
The Act contains provisions which define the various cases, eligibility and regulation of surrogacy.
The Act also led to setting up of National and State Surrogacy Boards and other regulatory bodies.

Provisions for insurance of Surrogates

As per the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, intending parents (commissioning couple) are required to provide comprehensive medical insurance for the surrogate mother throughout the entire duration of the surrogacy process.
The insurance coverage is intended to cover all medical expenses related to the surrogate’s pregnancy, childbirth, and any potential complications that may arise during this period.
It ensures that the surrogate mother has access to appropriate healthcare facilities and financial support throughout her involvement in the surrogacy.
The insurance coverage details, such as extent, sum assured, and duration, vary based on agreements between intending parents, surrogates, and insurance providers’ regulations.

Directives of the IRDAI for Surrogates

For financial protection of the surrogate, commissioning couples or women opting for surrogacy must provide insurance coverage for the oocyte donor for a minimum of 12 months.
Intending couples can choose a general health insurance policy from an insurer, offering coverage for the surrogate mother for a maximum duration of 36 months.

Need for the IRDAI Directive on Insurance for Surrogates

Lack of comprehensive plans specifically tailored for surrogate mothers make them vulnerable to medical risks and financial burdens.
Without insurance surrogates may not get access to proper medical care and support in case of complications during pregnancy or childbirth process.
Additionally, without proper insurance coverage, surrogates may be at risk of incurring substantial medical expenses that they are unable to afford.