Time to review your health insurance?

April 22, 2016

Is your health insurance renewal date approaching? It’s a good idea to review your insurance, to see if you have the right cover, or to see if you could save money.  Here are a few things you should think about when reviewing your health insurance:

Review your level of cover

Take time to review what cover you currently have as it may not suit your current needs. You may have gone through some changes in your life or may be planning future changes. For example, you may be planning on having a child in the future, or if you’re very active you may want cover for sports, physiotherapy and travel. Whatever it is, it is worthwhile taking some time to think about what your needs are, even if all you are looking for is a better deal. There is a useful comparison on the Health Insurance Authority’s (HIA) website where you can compare the cost of plans from different insurers for similar benefits.

Can you make savings

Between the notification date and the renewal date you have time to look at ways to save money. You can make savings by putting your children on a different plan to yours, paying a bigger excess on any claim that you make, getting quotes from other insurers  or downgrading your cover. You can also ask your provider for an equivalent corporate plan that offers similar benefits to your existing one. These are not marketed to the public but insurance companies must offer them to you if you request them.

Downgrading your policy

If you decide to downgrade, weigh up if the savings are worth the loss in cover. Be aware that if you decide to upgrade your cover in the future, waiting periods of up to a maximum of five years can apply, depending on your age. During the waiting period, you will not be able to make a claim for extra benefits on your new plan. This depends on your insurer, so make sure you check before you decrease your cover. There is more information on the waiting periods that apply on the HIA website.

Planning on switching

If you are switching there are a number of things to consider:

  • Charges for switching during the term of your policyif you decide to switch health insurance provider during the term of your policy you may be charged for it. This is because you are cancelling out of the contract. The amount charged depends on your insurer so always check the terms and conditions of the contract before you switch.
  • Waiting periods for any extra benefits – if you switch, your new insurer may impose waiting periods for any extra benefits available on your new plan.
  • Upfront payment for the government health insurance levy – your old insurer may insist on you paying the government health insurance levy upfront if you switch. More detailed information on the switching policy of individual providers is available on the HIA website. It is very important to check this information before you switch.
  • Cancelling your direct debit – if you are switching to a different insurance provider, you will need to cancel the direct debit to your old insurer. You will need to write to your bank requesting this. You should also contact the third-party supplier – in this case your old insurance provider – to make sure that the direct debit has been cancelled. When switching be sure to read through your new policy documents carefully and if you have any questions on your cover, contact your provider. If you change your mind after switching, all insurers must provide a 14 day cooling-off period from the start of the contract. During this time you may cancel and get a full refund.
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