Whether new to health insurance or just looking to switch to another provider, probably the most important thing to do is to seek advice from a specialist insurance adviser who will be able to search the market on your behalf to find the plan that best suits your needs. Before that though you need to decide:
* Do you want it to provide cover for all in-patient, out-patient and day-patient treatment or are you happy to rely on the NHS for some things? Certain aspects of health care such as emergency services and treatment of chronic illnesses would always stay with the NHS. However how much treatment outside of this that is catered for privately is entirely down to appivapp individual choice and budget. As a rule of thumb it is likely that the more that is included, the more it will cost. There are often options to provide limited day and out-patient treatment rather than opt for no cover at all.
* What size excess can you afford? The amount of excess you choose is likely to have quite an impact on the cost of the cover. In most cases, the greater the excess, the lower the price of the cover. Also some plans apply their excess on the number of claims, per person, per year. Others appy it per year. Be clear which applies to your policy.
* Who do you want to cover? Just yourself or your spouse and other family members? Up to the age of 21 (or sometimes older if still in full time education), unmarried dependents can usually be covered.
* How do you want the plan to be underwritten – fully medically underwritten or on a moratorium basis? Medically underwritten will involve a series of questions about your medical history and current health. The benefit is that you can be sure exactly what is and isn’t covered. However it may never be possible to get cover for a pre-existing condition, even if there has been a long period without symptoms. Moratorium underwriting means that no forms are necessary. Cover is then automatically excluded for any pre-existing conditions for which you have received treatment, medication, asked advice on or had symptoms (whether or not diagnosed) usually, during the the five years immediately before the cover is taken. Fortunately though, if you do not have any symptoms, treatment, medication or advice for two years after your policy starts, most providers will cover that condition.
* How will you pay the premiums? Health insurance is an annual contract so some firms offer a discount to people willing to pay health insurance premiums annually. There may be discount for buying medical insurance online as well.
* Find out what the insurer’s premiums will be as you get older. Some companies increase premiums every five years, others base your premium on the age you join and just raise premiums in line with medical inflation.
Is there any flexibility? Can you switch plans within the insurer’s range without the need for new medical underwriting or elongated moratoriums?
* Do you want a policy that rewards you if you don’t claim? Look out for a no-claim discount.
Once you have considered the above your adviser will be able to search the market to find the best product available to match your requirements. At this stage it is advisable to have a maximum budget in mind. Health Insurance has become much more competitively priced in recent years but even so, if you have an unrealistic budget you may not be able to include everything you want.
Penny Oates is an experienced adviser, specialising in Health Insurance. She constantly searches the market to indentify the most suitable insurer and policy option for you. The systems she has developed ensure that all the policy benefits and limitations are explained in detail before purchase so there are never any nasty suprises.Find out more about buying health insurance [http://www.clearlyhealth.co.uk/products_services.asp] and download the popular, free, comprehensive report at