Do you already have health insurance but wonder whether you’d be better off switching to another provider? Your premium may have increased, or you may be disappointed with your insurer's customer service and want to try and find a better deal. Our guide helps you consider your options.
In most cases, if you want to switch health insurance providers, you can. The only exception is usually if you're in the middle of receiving a course of treatment for a serious illness such as cancer.
The real question is not whether you can switch health insurance providers, but whether it's the right decision for you. Before you switch health insurance companies it's vital you consider your circumstances and reasons for switching providers.
Switching health insurance providers can offer many benefits. If you've received your renewal quote and want to see if you can reduce your premium it's worth getting a comparison quote to see how other health insurance providers stack up. You may be able to get better health insurance coverage, a wider choice of hospitals or improved customer service with a different provider. Alternatively, you might want to seek better perks and benefits elsewhere.
When you decide to switch health insurance providers, any of the advantages we've described could also be a disadvantage. While there are ways to switch health insurance companies to get a better deal, you may find that your new provider offers less favourable terms and conditions or reduced cover levels.
If you've had medical treatment since taking out health insurance, switching health insurance providers could mean adding new exclusions to your policy, meaning your new provider may not cover treatment that the previous insurer did.
Before you decide to switch health insurance companies, consider your reasons for doing so. That way, when you start the search for a new private medical insurance policy, you know what you're looking for and can make an informed decision about whether a new health insurance policy fits the bill.
Do you want to:
Switching health insurance can be simple or complex, depending on your personal circumstances and whether you've made a claim with your current health insurance provider. The decision to switch health insurance often depends on the terms a new policy offers and whether any new exclusions will apply.
Here are some factors to consider depending on your circumstances.
With moratorium underwriting, health insurers will usually exclude conditions from coverage if you had medical advice or treatment for a condition in the five years before you bought the policy. If you haven't claimed or had NHS treatment, there shouldn't be any new exclusions when you change. However, if you have existing exclusions, you'll need to stay symptom/treatment-free for two years before they can be added to your health insurance policy.
Most health insurers in the UK will allow you to use "Switch underwriting" (also known as continued moratorium underwriting), but you'll need to meet their predefined criteria to access it. Before moving, the insurer or your broker will ask you to complete a questionnaire about your medical history. So long as you meet the insurer's criteria, you can switch without adding new exclusions, and your moratorium period won't be reset.
If you've made a claim on your existing health insurance policy or are in the middle of treatment, switching without introducing new exclusions is more complicated. After all, pausing cancer treatment and joining an NHS waiting list is unlikely to be in your best interests.
Some conditions need repeated treatment over time. For example, your health insurance may have covered steroid injections for a knee condition. However, this may not be a long-term solution. Switching health insurance may mean your knee problem is excluded from cover, meaning you can't claim on your private medical insurance if you need an arthroscopy or knee replacement.
Again, it's vital that you speak with an experienced broker who will be able to advise on whether it's possible to switch without negatively affecting your cover levels.
If you want to change health insurance providers to reduce your health insurance premiums but are otherwise happy with the cover levels and service your current health insurance company offers, there are ways to save money without switching health insurance.
Here are a few ways you can reduce your premium without switching health insurers.
If you get quotes from elsewhere and present them back to your insurer, they'll often consider reducing your renewal premium. Haggling works, and doing it once a year can save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
Private health insurance includes some treatments as standard, including inpatient treatment, cancer care and some mental health support. You may also have added extra cover in the form of outpatient treatment or other therapies. Reviewing what your policy covers and the financial limits can help you reduce your premium. However, we'd suggest only doing this with professional guidance to ensure you're properly covered. You may not need hospital treatment very often, but you need to be sure that you have the proper coverage if you do.
For example, you may have added an extended list when you bought your policy because you wanted access to high-end central London hospitals. However, your priorities may have changed. A standard list can reduce your health insurance premiums and still provide excellent treatment.
Some providers also let you tailor their list to focus on particular facilities or locations. Removing hospitals with higher fees can help you reduce your health insurance premiums.
Most of the leading insurers today offer what's called a "Guided Consultant List", which restricts you to a smaller pool of private hospitals and specialists in return for a reduction in your premiums of around 20%.
Increasing your excess is a simple way to reduce your premium. The more you're willing to pay upfront for treatment, the lower your premiums will be. It's important to find the right balance so you don't avoid claiming on the health insurance policy you pay for because you can't afford the excess.
A six-week wait option means your insurer will only cover your treatment if you need to wait longer than six weeks for NHS treatment. The main disadvantage is that if you receive emergency care in A&E, you won't be able to use your health insurance for any follow-up treatment.
If you already have private medical insurance, you likely understand the difference between moratorium and full medical underwriting (FMU). We've already mentioned exclusions for pre-existing conditions; if you have moratorium underwriting, you won't have provided medical information upfront, whereas if you have FMU, you will. You can switch health insurers using the same underwriting terms. However, that may mean adding new exclusions to your policy.
If you'd prefer underwriting terms that let you avoid adding new exclusions or keep your existing moratorium, you'll need CMORI or CPME underwriting.
Continued moratorium underwriting (CMORI) is like the no-claims bonus on your car insurance. It lets you keep the moratorium you earned on your previous policy, meaning you won't have to start a new moratorium period from scratch. It's ideal if you have an exclusion on your existing policy and have been symptom-free for between one and two years, as it will shorten the time you need to wait before the exclusion can be removed.
Continuing personal medical exclusions underwriting (CPME) is only available if you had full medical underwriting on your previous policy. It allows you to keep the same exclusions from your existing policy and avoids adding new ones. Earlier, we gave the example of a knee condition that was treated with steroid injections but may need further treatment in the future. CPME would allow you to continue using your health insurance to cover the treatment, including future surgery if needed.
There's a lot to consider if you want to change health insurance providers. While switching health insurers is possible, you must consider whether it's the right choice for your circumstances. While different underwriting options can allow you to keep some of the same terms, there are no guarantees that a new provider will offer it to you. You should also compare quotes carefully to understand whether your new policy is at least as good as the old one.
Comparing quotes from different providers can help you get the best deal. A specialist broker has in-depth knowledge of the health insurance market and can help you compare quotes and ensure you aren’t compromising on coverage. Sometimes, a new insurer can give you lower premiums by reducing cover or offering less favourable terms.
A specialist broker provides unbiased advice to ensure you get the right balance between costs and coverage.
MyTribe guides help you to understand your health insurance options so you can make an informed choice. Contact us for a comparison quote and we'll put you in touch with a regulated, specialist broker for advice tailored to your needs.
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.
Save up to 37%* on your insurance by comparing policies
*Based on 461 quotes between 01/22-01/23