Health insurance seekers urged to be smart

Smart consumers can get “phenomenal” health insurance deals if they ask the right questions.

Health insurance seekers urged to be smart

Health insurance expert Dermot Goode of totalhealthcover.ie said there were competitive deals for the roughly 400,000 people expected to renew their plans next month. However, consumers needed to ask their insurer the right questions.

“Smart consumers will get phenomenal deals now.

“When you call your insurance company, don’t ask for a recommendation, ask for the closest equivalent across all of the plans to the one you have.”

Laya, the country’s second-largest health insurer, is the latest to offer price cuts on some plans and a price freeze on three new schemes.

Prices for Laya’s Future Protect start at €495, with prices frozen for two years.

Laya also announced price reductions of 10% and 19% across 12 of its products.

Aviva GoHealth and VHI are all increasing the cost of their policies in the coming weeks, while also launching new plans and special offers.

Mr Goode said consumers were more “clued in” but he still found that four out of five he spoke to were on the wrong plan. “They are on good plans but they are the wrong plans,” he said.

Asked about Laya’s price cuts, he said said that Future Protect was an entry-level plan that just covered public hospitals so it was not for everybody. And while the price reductions on 12 of the company’s products was welcome and some were quite considerable, a number were dated and too expensive.

However, one, Essential Connect Family, at €860 for an adult, an 11% price cut, was a very good plan for anybody trying to reduce insurance costs and maintain private hospital cover.

Mr Goode said consumers had to be smart to get the best deal. A price cut might look great but consumers should look at the plans that have not been highlighted that might provide even better cover at a lower rate.

While insurance companies gave good advice, consumers had to ask what they were losing and gaining by switching to another plan.

“If you shopped around last year and got a good plan, you need to check if there is another plan available otherwise you will end up paying too much for your cover.”

Mr Goode said consumers should avoid asking insurance companies open questions and do their research.

A VHI spokeswoman said it was no surprise that Laya was able to offer rate reductions products after increasing its rates by as much as 41% earlier this year.

“VHI Healthcare increases in 2014 were the lowest in the market and, over the past few years, we have run many customer offers,” she said.

VHI’s next offer would see half-price child and student rates on 17 products over the next two months.

A spokesperson for Aviva Health Insurance said its Aviva Select Plan, at €498 per year for adults and €140 for children, was the lowest cost hospital plan for families.

However, Aviva will increase premiums on a range of plans on January 1 by an average of 3.5%, although its CEO, James Parker, insisted the company had tried to keep the increase as low as possible.

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