A few months ago, Radhakrishnan*, a close friend of the family came to seek my advice on a very delicate problem. His daughter, Roshni* had finally agreed to get married to Hemant Kapadia *. Roshni was a successful practising company secretary who was in her late thirties. In the sign of modern times, Roshni had met Hemant in an Internet chat room, their love blossomed and finally they announced their decision to get married, but only after meeting in the real world.
Hemant, who was a successful marketing professional, came from a good family and by all accounts was a great match for Roshni. Hemant's parents had already given their consent. All that remained was for Radhakrishnan to say yes. He came to seek my opinion. So what was the problem?
After a bit of hesitation Radhakrishnan came out with what was bothering him. At 40 Hemant was by Indian standards getting married fairly late. Although Hemant gave no outward indication of following a promiscuous life style, Radhakrishnan was worried about his possible exposure to sexual diseases such as Aids (I know that unprotected sex is not the sole cause of Aids but was clearly following the popular perception).
If true, this would of course be life threatening for Roshni apart from wrecking her marital bliss. He could think of no way of broaching the subject of pre-marriage medical testing to the bridegroom's side. Even in western countries, perhaps, asking for this would have been a little touchy but in the Indian context this would have been highly upsetting.
Here, fortunately, there was a solution at hand where a personal finance product could help. I asked Radhakrishnan if he was planning to gift cash to the couple on their engagement day. He said it was customary and he was of course going to provide a certain amount of cash gift to the bridegroom. I advised him to instead gift an insurance policy with a reasonably large sum assured with the premium being around 20 per cent of what he was anyway planning to gift to the bridegroom. He could use the balance 80 per cent for paying premiums in the future I told my friend.
Since the sum assured was reasonably large the insurance company would be carrying out a battery of medical tests including for diseases such as Aids. So if the insurance company agreed to do the policy on normal terms Radhakrishnan could rest assured that Hemant's health status was squeaky clean. Even if they did ask for a nominal additional premium also he would well ask his agent the reasons for the same.
In fact the insurance company would absolutely refuse to issue the policy if Hemant tested HIV positive. MY friend liked my idea and was able to talk it over with Hemant's family without embarrassment or encountering any hostility.
Hence acting on my advice, he approached his insurance agent. There was a minor issue with one insurance company not accepting a cheque drawn by Radhakrishnan for an insurance proposal made by Hemant but another insurance company had no such issues. So a unique gift was given by a father-in-law to his would be son-in-law, and needless to mention, to his daughter.
The upshot: Peace of mind for Radhakrishnan and a valuable insurance for Hemant.
And by the way we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at Roshni's wedding with Hemant.
* names changed to protect privacy