With these thoughts in mind we’ve pulled together a few hints and tips to help you find the cover that best suits your lifestyle and budget – the smart buyer’s guide to private health insurance!


First things first: Is health insurance right for you?

If you’ve never taken out a private medical insurance policy the first thing to consider is whether it’s right for you.

  • If your budget is limited and you’re looking to dip your toe into the waters of private provision, you might want to consider a health cash plan. These are designed to meet every day healthcare costs for treatments such as dental and optical care. Because cover is much more limited than for health insurance, premiums are lower.
  • Or if you just want to cover only specific treatments there may be plans for only those, for example private dental insurance would just help with dental costs.

However, if you’re looking to protect against, say, cancer or out-patient care and want to benefit from a choice of hospitals and consultants, then you will need invest in more comprehensive health or medical insurance.



9 questions to ask before buying Private Medical Insurance:


1. What is important to you?

Of fundamental importance is determining which policy benefits are important to you.

  • Entry level policies will cover things such as in-patient and diagnostic treatments
  • Comprehensive insurance will help you access things like day and out-patient services or specialist treatment for things like cancers or other conditions


2. Do you want individual, couple or family cover?

If you’re in a relationship and/or have children you might want to consider joint or family health insurance.

You can find that including your loved ones on a policy adds little cost whilst bringing great reassurance and benefits.


3. Should you buy offline?

Whilst the internet has revolutionised the way we buy many products and services, it’s not ideal for everything.

Private medical insurance is arguably chief among them because it’s such a personal purchase with cover and premiums frequently determined by our medical history and individual circumstances.


MoneySavingExpert recommends that if you’re seeking what’s known as “full medical underwriting” cover (that is not automatically excluding certain medical conditions) then:

“It may be best to speak to a broker rather than use a price comparison site, your best option will be to find a member of the AMII … for independent, specialist advice.”

You’ll perhaps not be surprised to hear that as one of the UK’s leading independent medical insurance specialists, Towergate Health & Protection is an AMII member.


4. How are you going to find your policy?

There’s a mass of private healthcare providers, each having their own strengths and weaknesses and offering policies with different levels of cover, flexible options, limits and exclusions.

Whilst choice is to be welcomed it can bring with it a fairly sizeable headache; matching your individual circumstances to one of countless policy options can be hard.

That’s why it’s important to seek out independent and expert advice from a specialist health insurance intermediary.


The key word there is “specialist.” If an advisor spends every day of their working life focused on any sector they’ll be on top of the latest developments, the new policies and the changes to existing ones. Specialist brokers can also gain access to cover which may not be offered on the wider open market.


5. Are there any cost benefits you can use?

There are a number of ways you might minimise the cost of your cover.

These include agreeing to pay an excess when you claim, excluding certain conditions, limiting the number of hospitals you may access and, of course, your claims history.


6. Do you have a company health insurance policy already?

Private medical insurance is a popular “perk” offered by many UK companies either as a standalone bonus to salaries or part of a wider employee benefits package.

Businesses like company medical insurance because not only is it valued by their staff but it can help keep them healthy – and therefore productive! – and enable them to return to work more quickly following illness or injury.


7. Do you need international or expat insurance?

If you do or are planning to live abroad you should consider international health insurance.

Similar rules apply in finding the right cover for you in that different providers have different strengths and weakness in different territories.

It’s important to choose carefully as obviously the quality of medical facilities and care – and access to them – varies considerably across the globe and one provider might, say, have a strong hospital network in Europe but be comparatively weak in the US or Asia.


One final point: international health insurance (also known as ex pat insurance) is designed for people residing in a country. It is not travel insurance.


8. Do you need to disclose any medical history?

There are two key types of private health insurance; full medical and moratorium underwritten policies.

  • If you have any pre-existing medical conditions you should choose the full medical option which will require you to fill out a medical questionnaire and the insurer may want to contact your GP. When answering questions it is vital that you do so openly and honestly, declaring any and all conditions you have. If you don’t your insurer may have grounds for refusing to pay a later claim. The benefit of going down this route is that it should become clear exactly what is and isn’t covered; if the insurer is going to exclude a pre-existing condition they’ll tell you.
  • On the other hand moratorium underwriting will automatically exclude any conditions from which you’ve suffered with a specific time-frame before you applied for cover – typically five years. Exclusions will automatically apply if you’ve received treatment, sought advice upon, been prescribed medicine for or had symptoms of a condition.


9. How are you going to compare insurance policies?

When evaluating policies make sure you’re comparing like-for-like as limits, exclusions and the benefits offered may vary.

You should also examine providers’ hospital lists to ensure they are able to offer care close to home and the specialist treatments you want covered.


Any questions?

If you have a question about private health insurance, call one of our expert advisors on 0800 018 3633.

Chase Templeton Limited is registered in England and Wales No. 3299980 – registered address: 5 Arkwright Court, Blackburn Interchange, Darwen, BB3 0FG. Towergate Underwriting Group Limited is registered in England and Wales No. 4043759 – registered address: Towergate House Eclipse Park Sittingbourne Road Maidstone Kent ME14 3EN.  VAT Registration No: 447284724.