A brief introduction to health insurance underwriting

If you need to change health insurance providers, the process will depend upon the underwriting options you choose. Here's our brief guide to what the different medical underwriting terms mean.

Full medical underwriting

When you choose full medical underwriting, you'll be asked to complete a medical questionnaire when you take out your health insurance policy. It means that if you have any pre-existing conditions, they can be excluded from cover from the start.

The main advantage of this for you is that it means your claim can be dealt with more quickly as you know exactly what's covered. It's also easier for your insurer to assess any risks arising from your medical history, which means it can be cheaper than moratorium underwriting.

Moratorium underwriting

Moratorium underwriting excludes any pre-existing conditions which have needed treatment, typically within the past five years. The moratorium period will usually last for the first two years of your policy. At that stage, your insurers can review your policy and include any pre-existing conditions that haven't needed treatment within the first two years of the policy.

You won't be asked to provide your full medical history, but this can sometimes mean that claims take longer, as your insurer will need to investigate your medical history when you make a claim.

There is also a type of underwriting called medical history disregarded, but this only applies to group insurance policies offered to employees by larger corporations.

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Why you might need CPME underwriting due to your medical history

CPME underwriting allows you to switch your private health insurance policy to a new insurer without losing the policy terms that suit you. You might decide to do this because you've had a renewal quote after the first year of your policy and found that you can save money or receive better benefits by changing to a new provider. At the same time, you may need to keep some of the terms the same.

For example, you might already have had treatment for a particular condition and want that cover moving forward. Without CPME underwriting, a new insurer will treat this as a pre-existing medical condition and exclude it from cover. With CPME, you can transfer to a new insurer and carry on getting the treatment you need. This will only apply if you're being treated for an acute condition, something that a course can cure of treatment. If you have a chronic condition that needs ongoing management, that will be excluded by all health insurers, and the same applies to CPME.

CPME underwriting means that your new insurer won't have to reassess all your personal medical exclusions when you move your policy. They'll simply carry on using the same information you provided to your current provider. Your personal medical exclusions will remain the same. 

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How does Continued Personal Medical Exclusions Underwriting (CPME) work?

If you've decided to switch to a new private health insurance provider using CPME underwriting, you'll need to provide your new insurance company with information about your existing policy. This includes:

  • A copy of your most recent insurance certificate.
  • Details of any claims you've made on your current health insurance policy.
  • Some basic information about your medical history and personal medical exclusions.

The medical information you provide won't be as detailed as the health questionnaire you completed when you took out the original policy, as your insurer won't use it as part of the underwriting process. However, it will allow them to decide whether they can offer you a new policy with the same terms as your existing one. If they're willing to provide you with health insurance, they'll use your current policy certificate to apply the same exclusions to your new policy.

When you receive your new documents, it's also essential to check the terms and conditions carefully. While the insurance terms may be the same, some terms and conditions may be different.

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What are the benefits of CPME underwriting?

When you switch health insurance policies using CPME underwriting, you can keep the same level of health insurance cover even though your insurer has changed. It's sometimes known as 'protected underwriting', and it's designed to ensure that your new terms aren't any worse than the old ones. The idea is that your new private medical insurance company will transfer the exclusions that you already had on the old policy over to the new one. This should also mean that they don't add any further exclusions.

However, it's essential to check whether your new insurance provider has any exclusions that the old one didn't. There are always standard exclusions on any health insurance plan, but some insurers have a longer list than others.

One of the other advantages of CPME underwriting is that you'll only have to supply basic information rather than your full medical history. If you move to a new insurer using full medical underwriting, you'll have to undergo a whole new medical questionnaire.

If you're already receiving treatment and need this to continue with the new health insurance policy, the last thing you want is for treatment to stop because it's excluded from your new policy suddenly. CPME will allow your treatment to continue as it won't be excluded from the policy as a pre-existing condition.

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What is "Switch Underwriting" (Continued Moratorium Underwriting)?

If your current health insurance uses moratorium underwriting, you can still change your provider, but you'll need to use "Switch underwriting" instead of CPME. The clue is in its proper name; Continued Moratorium underwriting (or CMORI) allows you to transfer the moratorium you've already earned on your previous health insurance policy over to the new one. It's a bit like transferring the no claims bonus on your car insurance over to a new provider.

Health insurance using moratorium underwriting allows you to add cover for a pre-existing condition if you haven't needed treatment during an unbroken two year period at the start of your policy. If you stay with the same private medical insurance provider, this is straightforward as your insurer will simply review your policy and adjust the cover. If you switch insurers without switch moratorium underwriting, you'll need to start your qualifying period from scratch.

By contrast, if you decide to switch to a new insurer using switch underwriting, you'll be able to transfer the moratorium you've already earned over to the new policy.

Say, for example, you've had treatment for a musculoskeletal condition in the past five years. It's a pre-existing condition, so your current insurance providers won't cover it, but it's resolved with treatment. However, it's the kind of thing that might need further treatment in the future, especially as you get older. You've had your insurance policy for a year, and the condition hasn't recurred. Then you decide to transfer to new insurance providers to save money or get better benefits. You're covered if you use switch underwriting and need treatment 18 months into the new policy. If you started the two years again, you wouldn't be.

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Important note about switching providers

The right policy for you will depend on the types of treatment you're likely to need, your lifestyle and even your job. We hope that when you first chose your medical insurance, you looked at the types of cover each different provider offered and the benefits of each health insurance policy. It's equally important to look at those details again if you decide to change to another provider.

Different insurers offer different benefits and types of policies. Some will provide cover for conditions that others don't but may balance this by excluding conditions that other insurers offer as standard.

You might switch insurers using CPME or CMORI underwriting because the premium is cheaper or because you like the range of benefits they offer. It's important to check that the cover they offer is also as good as your previous health insurance policy. Sometimes, the differences may only become clear when you examine the terms and conditions of your policy in detail. You may be able to get an idea of the health insurance your new provider offers from their website.

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Speak to an independent health insurance broker

If you're thinking of changing your insurer and want to ensure that you keep the same level of cover whilst gaining additional benefits, it could all feel like a bit of a minefield. There are lots of different insurers and the information that's available to you via their websites can vary widely. It's a good idea to speak to an independent health insurance broker who'll be able to guide you through the process and has all the relevant information at their fingertips. They'll ensure that you get the right advice based on your pre-existing medical conditions and the level of cover that's available on your current policy; they'll also be able to offer you advice on continued personal medical exclusions when switching.

At myTribe, we aim to offer information that helps you navigate the world of medical insurance and find the right policy for you. We'll provide you with a comparison quote and connect you with highly rated brokers who are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority so that they can provide you with independent advice that's based on your circumstances.

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Frequently asked questions

What is CPME medical underwriting?

CPME underwriting allows you to switch your health insurance to a new provider without adding new exclusions (i.e. you have continued personal medical exclusions). If you're already receiving private medical treatment with your existing policy, this would be treated as an exclusion by a new insurer. CPME underwriting stops that from happening.

What is CMORI underwriting?

When you take out a new health insurance plan, any pre-existing conditions will be excluded for a two-year moratorium period. If you decide to change insurance providers after the first year, Continued Moratorium underwriting (or CMORI) allows you to transfer the moratorium you've already earned on your existing policy over to the new one so you don't have to earn it again.