Buying contractors medical insurance is very different to buying many other types of insurance. If you end up dissatisfied with your car insurer for example, you can change to another insurer with little or no consequences. Changing private medical insurer can have major implications, so getting it right first time is very important.
Why is it different to buying car insurance?
With car insurance your previous accident damage is fixed and will be covered again, that’s rarely the case if you change from one private medical insurer to another.
If a door is sprayed imperfectly it’s not the end of the world and can be done again. With medical conditions you might just get one shot at it.
What to look for in a Contractors Medical Insurance policy
The cheapest is rarely the best
Firstly, as with most things, the cheapest is rarely the best. A policy can be cheap for a number of reasons you need to be aware of.
1. Claims related policies
These policies typically offer a starting no claims discount. Nothing wrong with that you may think, “If I don’t claim, I want cheaper premiums”.
But what if you do claim? The probability is it’s not just you whose premium loses the no claims discount but also the rest of your family who may not have claimed a penny.
And what if that claim is for a serious condition such as cancer? Well, it can mean that premiums will increase rapidly and it will certainly mean that to continue to receive benefits for that condition you will probably have to stay with that Insurer for the rest of your life. So it’s very important you get it right first time.
2. Hospital choice
Your choice of hospitals can be restricted in return for lower premiums. Again on the surface that may seem acceptable and you may think one Private Hospital is similar to any other. But restricting hospitals also restricts the Specialists you can choose from or be recommended to.
The best in their field or the one who did a superb job for your best friend may not be available to you.
3. NHS 6 week option
Some Insurers offer lower premiums because if you can be seen on the NHS within a certain time, usually six weeks, you stay within the NHS.
This takes away your choice of where, when and by whom to be treated which is one of the reasons for having a contractors medical insurance policy.
Having decided that the cheapest is rarely the best, what should you look for?
Specialist Provider or General Insurer?
Like most things in life, dealing with a specialist is more likely to provide better services than dealing with a generalist.
A company that only provides medical insurance is likely to have an infrastructure and culture best suited to providing an excellent service. With general insurers it’s possible that the processes and culture are influenced as much by the needs of home and car insurance as medical insurance.
Of course all providers will probably say they offer excellent customer service, but how can you know before starting a policy. Awards may offer some indication, but the best way is to ask around, making sure you speak to those who have had experiences of claims.
The claims departments should always be helpful and should not make it difficult to make genuine claims.
Freedom of choice
If you’re looking for a policy that will enable you to see the top Specialists in the country, choose one that doesn’t restrict hospitals.
How flexible is the policy? Your needs and circumstances may change in the future. Make sure your policy can also be changed to reflect those needs.
At the start of a new policy year you may already be aware that you’ll need some additional benefits. Make sure you can add them to the policy?
Times may become financially tough and you’re cutting down on expenses. Make sure you can reduce your premiums by changing the level of cover?
Check to see if the cancer cover gives access to drugs and treatments not normally available on the NHS. Check to see if there is an overall cash limit to the cancer care benefit
Be aware that the perks that often come with a contractors medical insurance policy, free gym membership can be dropped at any time and ask yourself, is that really why you’re thinking of starting a Private Medical Insurance policy.
With all the turmoil going on in the financial world today, it is important you entrust your Medical Insurance with a company which is financially strong.
For further advice on choosing private healthcare insurance, you can contact Simon Bradley directly.
WPA Healthcare Partner