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Insurance regulator to review laws for ‘living will’ seeking passive Euthanasia!!

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Strap: Any claim for life insurance will be treated as a case suicide and no claims will be allowed within the first year of issuance of policy. While expenses for the treatment before the death will be paid by general insurance companies.

Last week Supreme Court in its landmark judgement recognized a ‘living will’ made by terminally ill patients for Passive Euthanasia. In order to bring more clarity on the insurance side of the issue, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is planning to review the existing laws and terms and condition of policies to allow claim payments of such policy holders-suggests the media reports

In the current scenario, Indian general insurers wouldn’t pay any death claims for a Personal Accident(PA) policy holder who opts for a ‘living will’ seeking Passive Euthanasia. However, any expenses for the treatment before the death of such policy holder will be paid by these non-life insurers. On the other hand, for life insurers, any claim out of ‘living will’ be treated as a case suicide and no claims will be allowed within the first year of issuance of policy.

In the past, the life insurance policy clause used to specify a period of three years- that is no claim payment would be entertained if policy holder committed suicide within three years of commencement of the policy. However, from January 1, 2014, the insurance regulator mandated the companies selling insurance policies to effect changes in their agreements to make provision for some payment to the nominees even if a policy holder committed suicide within a year.

In a judgement, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said Passive Euthanasia and advance living will are “permissible”. Human beings ‘have the right to die with dignity’, the court said. Living will is a written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions in advance about the medical treatment to be administered when he or she is terminally ill or no longer able to express informed consent.

While Passive Euthanasia is a condition where there is withdrawal of medical treatment with the deliberate intention to hasten the death of a terminally-ill patient. It is legal in India unlike the controversial active Euthanasia, which entails use of lethal substances to either voluntarily or involuntarily end a life.

The top court said that directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue. The SC said ‘living will’ will be permitted but with the permission from family members of the person who sought passive Euthanasia and also a team of expert doctors who say that the person’s revival is practically impossible. After the ruling by the court, insurance industry will be keenly looking at the new sets of rules which will be announced by the IRDAI.

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