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Health insurance is a blessing at the best of times, but with NHS waiting lists at a record high for 12 years, it’s providing more valuable peace of mind than ever.
In the depths of a pandemic and the associated economic climate however, it’s as important as ever to ensure your policy provides the best possible value out there. If you want to know more about health insurance policy prices, see our first blog article in this series ‘how much does health insurance cost?’. We follow on from that article, here with some top tips from our expert advisers on how to make your health cover cheaper.
It stands to reason that clients who look after their health, should pose a smaller risk to insurers, than those who don’t. Subsequently smokers, for example, with some insurers would pay a higher premium than non-smokers. Some insurers go further still; they encourage you to track and improve your health, and reward you for doing so. This is a win-win for your physical and financial health – it’s a great way to save on your premiums at renewal. Make sure you are aware of all the available schemes on your policy and make the most of the rewards.
Vitality is probably the best known for its ‘rewards for healthy living’ approach. They offer the opportunity to earn Vitality Points for doing healthy things, like tracking your daily activity or having a yearly health check. They offer a discount on devices such as Apple watches to help you with tracking - then you can earn points to increase your Vitality status. The higher your status (platinum being the highest) the bigger the rewards, and the lower the premium can be.
Vitality aren’t the only ones encouraging healthy living with rewards though - Aviva’s My Health Counts programme for example, allows you to earn up to 15% off your premium at renewal time by keeping up with living healthily.
Every so often insurers will release a new promotion or offer which can provide exceptional savings. These can prove great opportunities for people looking to take out a policy for the first time, as well as customers looking to switch providers at renewal, assuming you fit the criteria for the particular offer. Two of our favourite examples of offers to ask your adviser about:
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend that the extra perks of health insurance be the starting point for finding the right policy – the cover is obviously the most important thing. However, it can be useful to factor these into the equation if they may include expenses you incur regardless. Gym membership discounts, for example, are a common perk and can bring about significant savings, especially if you currently pay for a membership anyway. Vitality offer a 40% saving on selected Nuffield, David Lloyd and Virgin Active which could equate to a saving of £40 or more per month. This may not reduce your premiums directly but can none-the-less leave you better off. The same applies for Vitality’s potential 40% back on healthy food purchases in Waitrose.
A policy excess is the pre-determined initial amount you agree to pay towards a claim. So, for example if you had treatment worth £3000 and you had a £200 excess on the policy, you would pay £200 towards the treatment and your insurer would pay the £2800.
In some cases, you’re not required to have an excess, so you wouldn’t have anything to pay when you claim. Sometimes insurers can insist upon a ‘compulsory excess’ - the minimum amount they require. There is also what is known as ‘voluntary excess’. This is an additional amount which you agree you are comfortable to cover in the instance you need to make a claim on the policy. The more you can increase the excess the more you will be able to reduce your premiums. Obviously in the event you were to make a claim, you would pay more at that point with a higher excess. But if you would prefer to lower monthly premiums, but still the reassurance that big, expensive treatments would be covered; this can be a great option. Different insurers offer different excess options, for example:
Bupa – £0, £100, £150, £200, £250, £500
Aviva - £100, £200, £500, £1,000, £3,000, £5,000
AXA - £100, £250, £500, £1000, £2500, £5,000
An extension to the idea of an excess is a shared responsibility or a co-payment on claims – where you agree to pay a percentage of every claim – for example 10% - and your insurer agrees to pay the remainder. This can reduce your premiums even further.
Another option for those whose primary concern is avoiding long waiting lists is to opt for what’s known as a ‘six-week option’. This means that any condition you have which the NHS will treat within six weeks, you can go ahead and receive treatment on the NHS. If they are unable to offer treatment within this time-frame, you can rely on your health insurance policy to step up and cover treatment privately, so you don’t have to wait. Waiting times for non-emergency treatments on the NHS aims to be less than 18 weeks, but plenty wait much longer.
Every health insurance policy includes a hospital list, which outlines all the hospitals you can access treatment in with your plan. The treatments themselves can be priced very differently depending on which hospital and where in the country. London hospitals can be particularly expensive and policies with hospital lists including London hospitals will therefore be more expensive. If you don’t live in London, you are unlikely to want to use their facilities, so could be paying for them unnecessarily. Some insurers subsequently offer the option of a reduced hospital list which can reduce your premium.
Health insurance policies are hugely flexible. Most will have a ‘core cover’ base, along with optional extras to add on. For example, some policies can include dental and optical, extended mental health cover, treatments like physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy. To access a cheaper premium, these kind of extras can be reduced to just what you need. This means you can reduce your premium, but still hold onto the peace of mind the core cover provides; that should you require treatment for a serious illness, you can still access the best of private healthcare, without the wait.
The most important thing to remember when taking out a new policy or doing your annual review before renewing an existing one, is to make sure you understand all the options available to you. It’s important to keep checking that you are getting the best value policy to suit your individual needs. Here at Usay Compare we love to take the hassle out of the task for you. Our expert advisers are on the end of the phone to talk through your needs, then go away and do all the hard work for you. We work with all the best insurance companies in the UK and there is no charge for our service. Just fill out the short form and we will call you back.
The 4 main ways to reduce your premium include: adding a six week option, reducing your out-patient cover, increasing your excess and reducing your hospital list.
Some of our insurers offer a small discount for annual payments, should that option suit you better. However, the rest of our insurers charge the same premium whether your payments are monthly or annually.
A 6-week option is something we can add to your plan to help reduce your premium. Should the NHS be able to see you within 6-weeks, then you will receive treatment on the NHS and will not have to claim. If the waiting list exceeds 6-weeks, you will be covered to be seen privately straight away.
There are options to add an excess onto your policy, this will help reduce your premium. If you choose this option, which most of our clients do, you will have to pay your chosen excess when you claim on your policy. If there are any shortfalls in your claims, you may be required to contribute.