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Important reasons to shop around for health insurance

Article by Simon Christopher
Article added: 25/8/2011 - Last updated: -
Rating: 4.40 4.40 (5 votes)

health insuranceExcess, premiums, underwriting… when it comes to health insurance, one size does not fit all. Here are our top reasons why shopping around is an essential part of buying a policy.

The NHS Postcode Lottery...

There is a huge variation in NHS hospitals across the UK. Although some hospitals are meeting their waiting list targets, many are far below the Government recommended standard.

Before shopping for health insurance you should investigate your local NHS hospital to see what they are doing well, and where they are failing. When choosing a policy, make sure it supplements the service you already receive from the NHS.

Check your policy covers a particular private hospital...

A frequent reason for purchasing health insurance is the guarantee of treatment at a local private hospital. If you have your eye on a particular hospital, make sure it’s included in your policy’s list of hospitals.

Premiums can also vary depending on the hospital, particularly in London. It is important to make sure your desired hospital is within your price range.

Try out the following free online hospital tool which will give you a list of all the hospitals your policy covers.

You get what you pay for...

With health insurance, your premiums will directly affect your level of cover. Whilst cheap health insurance plans may save you money in the short term, you may miss out on life-saving treatment in the future.

There are other ways to save money on your health insurance policy without sacrificing on cover. Check out the next two sections for ways to reduce your premiums.

Customise your policy...

Before you start looking for health insurance make a list of the things you want covered and the things you don’t mind receiving on the NHS.

Many health insurance companies are moving away from the traditional one-size-fits-all approach and offering a pick-and-mix scheme. This usually includes a core cover policy, supplemented by a choice of additional policies. provides quote comparisons from all the leading UK health insurers and clearly shows all the options from each provider so you can choose a policy that suits your requirements.

Reduce your premiums...

There are a variety of ways you can reduce your premiums when purchasing health insurance. The option of an increase in excess is a way of reducing your premiums dramatically.

You can also save money with a six week wait option. With this option you can be sure you will never wait longer than six weeks for treatment, but you may be treated on the NHS. This option can cut your premiums by as much as one third.

Check the small print for hidden limits...

Sometimes companies place a cap on the maximum amount they will pay out under certain benefits.

Before you purchase health insurance, make sure you are happy with the terms and conditions. If you are not satisfied with the policy limits, look elsewhere.

Beware of unethical companies...

Searching through health insurance companies can be a time consuming process. Comparison websites are a quick and easy way to find a tailored quote online.

Before using a comparison website always check the homepage for a demonstration or written description of the service they provide. If they don’t have one, chances are that the company will simply take your personal information and sell it on.

In addition, make sure the company is FSA authorised, with its registration number at the bottom of the page.

Choose your medical underwriting...

It is essential that you understand the different types of medical underwriting before you choose a health insurance policy since it can affect your cover.

Moratorium (MORI) allows a quick and simple application without medical disclosure. Generally you will not be covered for any conditions that you have had in the previous 5 years but you will regain cover for those if they do not recur during the first 2 years of your new policy.

Full Medical Underwriting (FMU) requires a medical questionnaire. Typically, pre-existing conditions will be excluded with little or no chance of them being covered, even after a number of treatment-free years.

There is also a third type of underwriting, SWITCH, which is covered under the next point.

Policies are liable to change...

Your coverage levels, costs and hospital networks could change from one year to the next, so it is important to review your cover every year.

It is often possible to change providers without loss of cover. Some providers offer SWITCH or CPME (Continuing Personal Medical Exclusions) underwriting, which will give you continuity of cover for conditions for you have already claimed for a slightly higher price.

ActiveQuote is the only health insurance comparison service that can quote switch policies online.

PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular product or company. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at

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