‘Act now or pay extra €1k for insurance’

Families face paying as much as €1,100 more for health insurance in the new year unless they act now, a leading broker body has warned.

The health insurance plans of about 400,000 people — one in five of all such plans, are expected to fall due in January.

Dermot Goode, of healthinsurancesavings.ie, said many people failed to react to a renewal notice over Christmas.

“Our experience shows that the rate of shopping around halves at this time of year. Many people switch off from their finances during the holiday period and fail to react to the renewal notice coming through the door. Having spent the previous month trying to control their pre-Christmas spending, people inadvertently accept year-on-year increases of up to 20% on their health insurance costs.”

People have just 14 days from the renewal date to change their insurance plan with the same or a competing insurers.

“We are not suggesting that people spend Christmas Day trawling through the 200-plus health insurance plans on the market, but a little bit of research before Jan 14 could save many families up to and above €1,000 on the cost of their cover, which couldn’t come at a better time for most of us.”

He said the website undertook a study recently of a selection of the more popular plans falling due for renewal and found that, on average, premiums had risen 18% this year.

After looking at the deals currently available in the market, they found people could save an average of 29% by switching to a comparable plan.

“Our analysis reveals that savings ranged from 16% to 46% depending on the plan needed and the provider.”

The savings ranged between €557 and €1,947 — averaging €1,140, based on a family of two adults and two children.

“Inertia is a huge issue in the health insurance market with too few consumers taking the time to shop around.”

A spokesperson for the Health Insurance Authority (www.hia.ie) urged people to shop around and use the HIA’s website.

“People who carry out that level of research are likely to achieve some savings,” he said.

Laya healthcare recently announced a general price increase ranging from three to 14% on their plans from Jan 1.

Aviva have increased the premiums on its policies by between 4% and 7% in Oct while VHI increased up the cost of most of its plans by 3% in November.

There are about 2.1m people insured with in-patient health insurance plans. Numbers insured fell 64,000 (3%) during the year.

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