Prices will fall by an average of 5.5% across 62 of VHI’s 82 plans from March 1. Reductions will range from 2% to as high as 10%.
Most of the company’s 1.1m customers are covered by those 62 plans but the reductions do not apply retrospectively or to customers paying by instalment — so only those renewing plans will benefit.
Declan Moran, VHI marketing director, said the cuts are a recognition that cost is still an issue for customers.
“We understand that many of our customers continue to struggle with affordability.” he said. “We are pleased to be in a position to give back to our customers today. This is due to a solid business performance over the last number of years supported by another strong financial performance in 2017.”
With the cuts, a family of two adults and two children on the One Plan Starter option will save around €224 for their year’s cover, while a couple on the HealthPlus Premium plan will see savings of around €776.
A number of new benefits are also being added to many of the plans on March 1, including genetic testing for hereditary cancer which will be available at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin on 38 plans.
VHI says it is a first for an Irish health insurance company and will provide cover for testing for risk of developing cancers such as breast, ovarian, endometrial and colorectal cancer. Associated counselling is also covered.
A new app is also being introduced for customers on 36 plans, giving them online consultations with Irish registered doctors. Sports lovers will also be able to get cash back on sessions with strength and conditioning coaches on 26 plans.
The reductions follow cuts by its nearest rival, Laya Healthcare, at the start of this month. While the majority of VHI plans are coming down in price, the insurer had already announced increases in some of its premium plans to come into effect in February.
Changes to prices and benefits announced by all insurers are carried on the Health Insurance Authority website, www.hia.ie, which also offers an online comparison service and encourages customers to review their needs before they renew their plan.
A VHI spokeswoman said the company also encourages its own customers to review their plans before renewing each year.
“People’s needs and priorities can change so they should check they’re on the best plan for them,” she said.