Seven questions to ask your health insurance broker

Finding the right health insurance can feel like navigating a maze. A specialist health insurance broker can help you to compare quotes and make an informed decision, but how do you find the right one? Here are seven questions to ask that can help you choose your broker.

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Questions to help you find the right health insurance broker

There's more than one kind of insurance broker, but when you're looking for a health insurance plan, we'd always recommend talking to a specialist health insurance broker. They have a more in-depth knowledge of the health insurance market and how to find medical insurance that meets your needs.

A good health insurance broker will also have built relationships with health insurance companies that can get you a better deal. They're also in the best position to help you understand how your choices will impact your health insurance costs, coverage and experience when you claim. Here are some questions that your health insurance broker should be able to answer easily to help you make an informed choice.

1. Which insurers do you have access to?

Ideally, you're looking for a broker that offers a 'whole of market' choice. That means they can look at health insurance policies from every company and get quotes from the ones that best meet your needs and budget.

Some brokers have a restricted panel of insurance providers, so they can only introduce you to the ones they're authorised to sell. While you should still be able to compare different quotes, you will get less choice than you would with whole-of-market health insurance brokers. It's also important to watch out for advisers who are agents rather than health insurance brokers. These brokers represent a single company and can only introduce you to their health insurance policies.

The more companies a health insurance broker has access to, the better, as it means they can give you more choices and a better chance of finding the right coverage.

2. Can I come back to you if I need help with my policy?

A health insurance broker will help you find the right policy, but they can also be a source of support when needed. Everyone is different, and the level of help and advice you need will be personal to you. The service your broker offers can vary depending on your needs and the type of policy you have. Typically, a business with a group policy will likely need more support than an individual who claims infrequently.

Asking your broker to answer questions about the type of support they offer can help you decide whether they're the right choice for you. Some brokers will be on hand to answer questions about your policy coverage. Others may be able to guide you through the process when you claim on your health insurance plan.

Think about the level of support you may need so you can ask the right questions when you talk to a health insurance broker.

3. Will you review my policy each year?

Your insurer assesses the premium you pay for your health insurance based on various factors, including your age, where you live and your job.

When your health insurance plan comes up for renewal each year, the cost will likely increase because you pay more as you age. It's vital you understand whether your broker will review your renewal quote and ensure that the coverage still meets your needs.

Changing circumstances can mean a different health insurance plan or a new provider would be better for you. Switching can be complex, and having brokers supporting you can simplify the process.

4. Is it worth going for full medical underwriting?

Underwriting can be complex, so it's worth finding brokers who can explain it clearly. There are two main types of underwriting on individual health insurance policies. Pre-existing conditions are excluded from coverage; if you've had medical advice or treatment for an issue during the five years before taking out the policy, it won't be covered for the first two years of your plan.

If you have moratorium underwriting, you won't need to provide any medical information when you take out the policy. However, when you choose full medical underwriting, you'll be asked to complete a medical questionnaire.

The advantage of full medical underwriting is that you'll know what is covered and excluded from the outset, so you're less likely to have claims rejected. The claims process is typically shorter than with moratorium underwriting, as your insurers won't need to check your medical history. Full medical underwriting is usually cheaper too.

5. What are the pros and cons of a guided consultant list?

Most health insurance gives you a lot of choices about which consultant you see or the hospital you attend. A guided consultant list offers fewer choices, as your insurance company may provide you with a choice of only two or three consultants. This can be a great way to save money, as the consultants on their list typically charge less. That could mean that you can afford more coverage. It's also ideal if you're happy to take your insurer's advice about which doctors you see.

However, it isn't for everyone. If you want to see a particular consultant because they offer a specific type of treatment, you've had a personal recommendation, or because you've already seen them via the NHS, they may not be available on a guided list. You may also have to wait longer for an appointment, which isn't ideal if you have health insurance to help you skip NHS waiting lists.

6. What are the major exclusions from my policy?

Every health insurance plan has exclusions. Some are standard exclusions that your insurer applies to every policy, while others vary depending on your medical history. Your broker won't be able to advise you on the exclusions specific to you when you get in touch to request a comparison quote. However, they should explain what you can expect from the process. As we've already mentioned, the process is different depending on your underwriting type. Your insurer will only confirm any exclusions when you've provided medical information or after you claim.

On the other hand, your broker should explain which standard exclusions apply to your policy when they help you to compare quotes. You'll typically find that your medical insurance won't cover things like cosmetic surgery, straightforward pregnancy and birth, and addiction treatment. Some insurers have a longer list of exclusions but may offer more comprehensive cover elsewhere. Understanding what isn't covered helps you to choose the right cover for your needs.

Health insurance plans also only cover treatment for acute conditions, which means you can't get treatment for chronic illnesses that need long-term monitoring, such as asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure.

7. Do you charge for your service?

Most health insurance brokers provide their services free of charge because they're paid on commission when they place you with a health insurance provider. A good broker shouldn't charge you anything to work with them, so if you talk to one that does, you may be better off elsewhere.

Working with a broker could help you to save money too. Brokers aim to build relationships with insurance companies to give you discounts on your premium or more extensive coverage for your money.

Your broker should be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which monitors brokers to ensure they're acting in their customers' best interests. There are also regulations that are part of UK law, designed to protect insurance customers and ensure your broker treats you fairly.

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We hope this guide helps you understand the questions to ask when you speak with an insurance broker and help you make the right decision about your health insurance. Please remember that our guides shouldn't be taken as advice. Speaking to a specialist broker gives you advice tailored to your circumstances and needs.

When you contact us for a comparison quote, we'll put you in touch with a regulated health insurance broker who can provide expert guidance.

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

Chris Steele
Cert CII (F1, IF7 & I10)
Founder and Editor

Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert and has over a decade's experience writing for and about private medical insurance and private treatment. He's a Cert CII qualified member of The Chartered Insurance Institute and his research and work are often cited in the press. Chris is also contributing writer to numerous other financial services publications.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between a health insurance broker and an agent?

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An agent will typically represent one insurance company, so they can only advise you on their policies. A health insurance broker has access to a broader range of providers and can give you advice on policies from different companies. Some brokers are 'whole of market', so they can introduce you to any UK insurer, while others have access to a smaller range of insurers.

What support can a health insurance broker provide?

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Health insurance brokers will help you to compare quotes when you're first looking for a policy. Some provide support if you have questions about your coverage or when you need to claim on the policy. Your broker may also review your policy when it comes up for renewal to ensure you still have the best deal.

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