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What happens to health insurance when you quit or leave a job?

In almost all cases, when you leave a job, your company health insurance will stop, but exactly when that happens will depend on your employment contract. In a few rare cases, company cover will continue, but that's usually only when the individual happens to be a senior executive or director who has been with the business for a long time. For the rest of us, mere mortals, leaving will mean losing an excellent perk of the job.

That being said, there are some excellent options for you to choose from as you step away; you may even up with a better policy and benefits as a result. The key is comparing the market, spending time researching your options and speaking to an independent expert before committing. Fortunately, you're in the right place to do all three of those things!

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Group leaver health insurance

The first thing to do when leaving your job is to perform a market comparison, looking at the best private health insurance providers in the UK. With a number to choose from, each with its options and benefits, it's usually the quickest to request a quote through us, and our team will do the leg work for you. The service health insurance brokers provide is free of charge, and they work in your best interest, not that of the insurers. By working with an independent broker, you ensure that the policy you opt for is the best for your specific circumstances. With health insurance being such a complicated yet important type of protection, you need to get it right.

All of the top corporate and business providers offer what is commonly called "Group Leaver" policies. As the name suggests, these are policies that have been specifically created for people like yourselves, who are leaving a Group Scheme. The trouble with many of these policies is that they aren't always the best for the individual in question, as they're often configured to your previous employer's specification, not yours. On top of this, they can be costly due to some, usually larger companies, having their policies underwritten on a Medical History Disregarded (MHD) basis. That means the insurer will cover all employees for any condition, regardless of whether they have had symptoms relating to it in the past. While that's great when you're an employee and likely affordable for a large business that will get discounts based on their size, an MHD underwritten policy will be costly compared to other options for a single person or even a family.

Choosing a health insurance policy

If you've been on a group health insurance policy, you've probably never had much of a say over the level of cover you receive. Now that you're leaving the company, you've got the opportunity to configure your private health insurance policy as you wish, cutting out the things you don't need and adding in what you feel is essential. Here is a list of pretty standard options you'll be given when configuring your policy: 

  • Outpatient diagnosis and treatment
  • Therapies such as physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy
  • Mental health cover
  • Routine dental and optical cover
  • Whether you want the ability to choose the consultant who treats you
  • Which hospitals would you like included (commonly called your hospital list)
  • Your policy excess
  • Whether you would like to cover your partner and/or family
  • The method of underwriting used (see later in this guide)
  • And often much more

Please note, all health insurance policies typically include inpatient and day-patient treatments as standard.

Although often what makes it complicated, the great thing about private health insurance is that the policies can be tailored precisely to your requirements. 

Choosing an insurer when you leave a company scheme

In addition to the choices above you'll need to make, you'll also get the option of which insurer you would like to go with. It may be that one is better for you based on your age, or perhaps because you lead a very fit and healthy lifestyle. Equally, it could be that one particular private health insurance provider gives you specific discounts and benefits that will offset the cost of your policy. Finally, you may choose one based on reputation, reviews and price. The key is, you have a choice!

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Underwriting explained

We're starting to get into the finer details of private health insurance, but that's a good thing, as you need to understand the options you will be presented with. 

Underwriting is a term you may have encountered when looking at insurance in the past; it's the process an insurer will go through to assess the risk of a policy and subsequentially offer terms, including a price. All insurance policies are underwritten, but the method used can vary. With health insurance, you get to choose which way is used, and it will affect the cover and price of your policy.

For new policies or those leaving companies, there are three main types of underwriting to consider. Medical History Disregarded (MHD) is often the most expensive option, Moratorium and Full Medical History Underwriting.

Moratorium Underwriting

Moratorium Underwriting is the most popular form used for private medical insurance in the UK. It's challenging to get exact figures for the market as a whole, but in our experience, over 90% of policies are written using it.

"In our experience, over 90% of health insurance policies are written using Moratorium Underwriting."

When a policy is underwritten on a moratorium basis, the insurer doesn't ask you any medical questions at all. They simply exclude any condition that you have suffered from in the past five years. If you experience no new symptoms for two years from taking out the policy, the previously excluded condition will automatically become covered. With no medical questionnaires and letters to doctors, it's easy to see why this is a quick and easy way to implement a policy.

The only disadvantage of Moratorium Underwriting is that you don't know what is covered by your policy explicitly. To give you an example, you might have been involved in a minor car accident several years ago, which resulted in a couple of physio sessions for your neck. A few years after that, you take out health insurance on a moratorium basis. A year or so later, you suffer from a series of severe headaches, resulting in you needing medical treatment. Your GP assesses you and suggests that some physio might be a good idea. During your first physio session, the consultant treating you thinks they identify the problem as coming from your neck. Your insurer then may choose to exclude the condition you are currently suffering from on the basis that you had some neck trouble in the past five years, albeit the only minor. Of course, this is just an example, but hopefully, it illustrates our point. 

Full Medical History

With Full Medical History underwriting, the insurer will ask that you complete a detailed health questionnaire before telling you what they will and won't cover. Unlike Moratorium Underwriting, Full Medical History, as the name suggests, looks at your entire history of illnesses and injuries, not just the past five years. It's a time-consuming way to take out a policy, as you, the insurer and even your GP need to complete forms and analyse the results. For this reason, not many policies are written on a Full Medical History basis, but that begs the question, why are some? 

Reverting to what we mentioned as the only disadvantage of Moratorium Underwriting being that you don't know what is and isn't covered until you claim. The benefit of Full Medical History underwriting is that you know precisely what is, so there can't be any nasty surprises come the point of claim. Your chosen insurer will clearly outline what conditions they will exclude and not cover based on your disclosed medical history. People who tend to opt for Full Medical Underwriting perhaps have had slightly more complicated medical records and want clarity as to exactly what their policy will give them.

"The benefit of Full Medical History underwriting is that you know precisely what's covered by your private health insurance policy."

Medical History Disregarded

Finally, Medical History Disregarded, which, by all accounts, is the best form of underwriting from a coverage perspective, as the insurer covers everything, regardless of pre-existing conditions. The trouble with this type of policy to consumers, such as yourself, is that they are hugely expensive, almost ridiculously so compared to the other two options mentioned above. Indeed, this type of underwriting isn't even available to most individuals; it's usually offered to larger businesses. While, of course, it is the gold standard and best from a coverage perspective, it will cost you a fortune to maintain a policy, and you may even come away thinking that private medical insurance is unaffordable for you.

Summary of underwriting

As with all of the other factors and variables you need to consider with your private health insurance as you leave your company, it pays to speak to an expert about which form of underwriting is best for you. Rather than trying to guess, you can work with an expert who has countless years of experience and who can help you choose the right path based on your circumstances.

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Further information about leaving a company health insurance scheme

All UK's leading health insurers provide information to people quitting their jobs, retiring or otherwise leaving their employment. Here are some links to helpful information from a number of the most popular companies:

FAQs

How long do I have health insurance after I quit my job?

Your company-paid health insurance will usually finish on the same day that you leave that employment. There are exceptions, but they are rare.

When does cover stop when leaving a job?

In 90% of cases, and whether you've quit, been fired, made redundant or retired, your company health insurance cover stops on the day you leave the business. In the other 10% of cases, and where a director or partner is going a company, up to 12 months of continuation are included. To know which camp you fall into, you will need to check your contract of employment.

Can I keep my health insurance after I quit my job?

Yes, you can keep health insurance after quitting your job; the best way to do this is to compare the UK's leading providers with an independent broker so that you find the right policy for you.

What happens with health insurance when you quit your job?

Typically, your health insurance will cease on your final day of employment. To retain private health insurance, you will need to take out a new policy.

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