Health insurer to battle rivals on price

A battle for customers is looming in the private health insurance market following the arrival of a fourth insurance provider.

GloHealth — a company established by three former Aviva insurance executives — is targeting young families by offering major savings through lower premiums and additional benefits in a move that could spark a major price battle with existing providers.

Although GloHealth refused to reveal its target number of customers, it hopes to attract many of the 158,000 people who have dropped their health insurance cover over the past three years.

GloHealth will offer three basic plans — Good, Better, and Best — as well as two premium products, but will allow customers to personalise their cover with a choice of up to three free extras from eight specialised packages. They include free cover for children under three years on some policies, free travel insurance, free flu vaccine, enhanced maternity cover, and complementary therapies.

GloHealth is also the first mainstream health insurer in Ireland to offer hospital cash plans whereby expenses are paid out to patients to cover any stay in hospital.

The company said it would create 150 jobs within the next four years with 45 positions already filled as it formally opened for business yesterday.

Cash-strapped consumers who have faced rising health insurance costs on an annual basis in recent years are likely to benefit from any price battle which may break out as a result of GloHealth’s entry to the Irish market.

While the other three existing health insurance firms — VHI, Laya, and Aviva — have no immediate plans to react to GloHealth’s launch, they maintained yesterday that their pricing policies were kept under review.

Several insurance experts predicted that GloHealth’s arrival would be welcome news for consumers as it would intensify competition.

Health insurance expert Dermot Goode said the new entrant would force existing health insurance providers to review their own products and pricing to retain business. “GloHealth’s policies will be particularly attractive to those with young families or those who want flexibility in the structure of the cover,” said Mr Goode, a spokesman for Healthinsurancesavings.ie.

Speaking at the launch, GloHealth chief executive Jim Dowdall said: “Health insurance customers are crying out for a new approach and hard-pressed families are looking for better value, better cover, and better choice.”

He claimed a family of two adults and two children could save up to €465 by switching from VHI’s One+ Plan to GloHealth’s Better policy.

Although Mr Dowdall rejected claims that GloHealth was targeting young, more profitable customers, the company’s advertising is aimed at such age groups, while it is promoting the biggest savings on policies usually taken out by younger families.

GloHealth is 49% owned by insurance firm Irish Life, while its policies are underwritten by reinsurance giant, Munich Re.

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