Having a pre-existing condition shouldn't deter you from exploring a private health insurance policy. Private medical insurance is available to people with pre-existing conditions in the UK. Many insurance companies will offer you cover, but you may find it is not always the cover you need.
Things can become complicated when you wish to cover a pre-existing condition within your policy. While providers will offer you a policy, exclusions will usually apply based on your medical history. So, for instance, if you signed up after being diagnosed with diabetes, you won't be covered for diabetes. But you will be covered if you injure yourself.
Many pre-existing conditions are chronic in nature. They are usually lifelong and life-limiting. So it may be discouraging to hear that a chronic condition you have suffered from for most of your life will not be covered under private medical insurance. After all, many of us seek health insurance policies because we feel our needs have not been met under the NHS, with the coronavirus pandemic strengthening these feelings for many.
The good news is that all is not lost. Although complicated, you may still be able to benefit from private healthcare for a pre-existing condition. And it is always worth exploring whether private health insurance is for you because any new conditions you develop after you take out a policy should be covered.
What is a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition is any disease or chronic illness you have had treatment or advice for in the past. Some pre-existing conditions include:
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension
- Sleep apnea
- Mental health problems
Things become more complicated when you consider some insurers will exclude any medical conditions that could arise from a pre-existing condition.
It may be comforting to know that while many of these health conditions are chronic or lifelong, you could still benefit from private medical insurance that covers them eventually.
There are also some rare cases where insurers may agree to cover a pre-existing condition regardless. This is usually if they deem it to be minor. Some pre-existing conditions that could be covered by an insurer include:
- Varicose Veins
- Crohn's Disease
If you are looking to get a quote, it could be worth discussing your needs with an insurance broker. They would be best placed to advise you whether you could get a health insurance policy covering pre-existing medical conditions.
How do I get cover for a pre-existing condition?
A health insurance policy could offer you peace of mind that you will have a robust health plan in place if you ever fall ill. But how do you get cover for a pre-existing condition when applications for health insurance often involve lengthy questionnaires?
Many insurance providers offer two types of underwriting for their policies - moratorium underwriting and full medical underwriting. Some people with pre-existing conditions opt for moratorium underwriting as this is one way to obtain cover.
Some specialised insurers also offer a pre-existing conditions supplement that could cover you for some conditions.
Opting for moratorium underwriting when purchasing an insurance policy could be a way to insure your pre-existing conditions eventually. Moratorium underwriting means you will not be asked to declare pre-existing medical conditions when you apply. However, your health insurance provider will look at your medical records when you decide to make a claim.
You can get your pre-existing condition covered if you have been symptom-free and have not received treatment or advice for your medical condition for a period set out under your insurance policy. This varies but is usually around two years.
However, moratorium underwriting comes with some disadvantages, including:
- It can be more expensive than full medical underwriting
- The claims process may be lengthier as your insurance company will need to review your medical records when you make a claim
- If you still receive treatment or show symptoms of your pre-existing condition, providers may not wish to cover you for that condition regardless
While full medical underwriting could be more affordable than moratorium underwriting, the latter is a great way to ensure you're covered for a pre-existing condition.
Pre-existing conditions cover
Some specialised insurers may offer pre-existing conditions cover. Insurance providers may offer to cover you for some pre-existing conditions of your choice up to a certain amount, for example £1,000 per year. Some insurers will agree to roll over the unused amount, but you will lose these benefits if you switch insurers.
Should I switch insurance providers if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
Rising insurance premiums, better coverage options, or simply a bad experience with your provider could all be reasons to start looking elsewhere.
The good news is that new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations will come into force next year, meaning your insurer must offer you the same deal they would offer new customers when it comes to renewal. In theory, this should mean you won't be financially penalised for staying with the same insurer, as is often the case.
However, if you wish to make the switch anyway, you may want to consider switch underwriting. This type of underwriting allows you to switch providers with a pre-existing condition and keep your cover for that condition. However, it can be more expensive due to the greater risk to the insurance provider. Still, it could be an option if you're unhappy with the terms offered by your current insurer.
Keeping costs low
Getting your pre-existing condition covered can result in a higher premium. But there are ways to keep costs low if you compromise elsewhere. For instance:
- If in-patient cover is crucial to you, you could opt for a basic policy with no outpatient cover.
- If you are willing to be treated on the NHS and they can offer treatment within six weeks, you could benefit from the six-week rule that lowers your premium.
- If you are comfortable with a higher excess, this could further lower your monthly premium.
For more information on lowering your premium, see our article here.
Health insurance with pre-existing conditions: Mission impossible?
Getting cover for your pre-existing health conditions isn't straightforward. But it also isn't impossible. There are several options to explore if this is important to you. For example, you could speak to an insurance broker, look into moratorium underwriting, or purchase a pre-existing conditions supplement via some specialised insurers.
Although covering a pre-existing condition could raise your premium, there are ways to keep costs low by compromising in other areas. For instance, you could opt for a higher excess or choose a more basic level of cover.
The road to getting the cover you want may be long, but you should take comfort in the fact that it is achievable.