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Full Medical Underwriting Guide 2024

Full Medical Underwriting or ‘FMU’ allows health insurance companies to look at your medical history in detail during your health insurance application. If the insurer then decides to exclude any conditions or symptoms from claims, they will normally lower the cost of your premiums to make this fair for you.

This is often the best type of underwriting for health insurance with pre-existing conditions, as it gives you a clearer picture of anything that you can’t claim for. This helps you to avoid wasting time on any health insurance claims that are likely to be rejected.

In this guide, our team of health insurance experts answer all of the UK’s biggest questions about what Full Medical Underwriting is and how it affects your health insurance application. This includes detailed information about how Full Medical Underwriting works, with examples from a range of UK insurers to help you understand all your options.

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60-Second Summary – Full Medical Underwriting Guide 2024

There are two main types of health insurance underwriting in the UK, which are Full Medical Underwriting and Moratorium Underwriting. This guide focuses on Full Medical Underwriting (FMU) and how this process can help you save money on your health insurance in 2024.

  • Most of the UK’s top health insurance companies like Bupa, AXA Health and Aviva will offer Full Medical Underwriting as an option for new customers.
  • Full Medical Underwriting is usually the cheaper option for people with pre-existing conditions. It also simplifies the claims process, as the insurer already has the information that they need about your medical history.
  • If you want to switch to a new insurer, you might be able to carry over any exclusions from a previous policy with Full Medical Underwriting. This is known as Continued Personal Medical Exclusions or ‘CPME’ Underwriting.
  • Our top pick for health insurance with pre-existing conditions is The Exeter, due to their flexible approach to underwriting and top-quality health cover. They are also rated as 4.2 out of 5.0 Stars on Trustpilot, the independent customer review website.
  • Moratorium underwriting can be faster than FMU, but it will often cost more as the insurer won’t understand your medical history properly and will ask more questions when you need to claim.

Full Medical Underwriting allows your health insurance company to look at your medical history in depth to work out how much your policy should cost. After the insurance company has assessed your health, they will let you know about any medical exclusions that are attached to your policy.

An exclusion refers to anything that you will not be able to claim for through your health insurance company. Pre-existing conditions will generally be excluded as a rule, but Full Medical Underwriting allows the insurer to give you a list of specific exclusions based on your medical history.

This can be much simpler and more reassuring than Moratorium Underwriting, where it is often less clear what the insurer will and won’t pay out for.

This short video from Bupa was made to explain more about different types of health insurance underwriting.

Bupa By You health insurance | Underwriting choices explained

Note: For health insurance, a pre-existing medical condition is usually any medical condition that you have experienced symptoms of in the past 5 years (see ‘What is a Pre-Existing Medical Condition?’ guide).

When you apply for health insurance with Full Medical Underwriting, you will need to fill out a medical questionnaire or declaration. This will include questions about any conditions that you have currently or have experienced in the past (normally within the last 5 years). In some cases, the insurance company might want to get some extra information from your GP for a better picture of your overall health.

Once the insurance company has all the information that they need, they will let you know what symptoms/conditions will be covered within your policy. Pre-existing conditions generally won’t be covered, and this can save you money as the insurer will usually lower the price because of this.

Key things to be aware of with Full Medical Underwriting (FMU):

  • It will be a longer application process than moratorium underwriting, but the insurer can usually process claims much more quickly.
  • You might see full medical underwriting referred to as ‘FMU’ underwriting online, but this is the same process and is just a shortened term.
  • The insurance company might contact your doctor to find out more about any pre-existing conditions that you have.
  • You are less likely to have a claim rejected, as you will immediately be told exactly what you can and can’t claim for.

How does Full Medical Underwriting affect my policy?

Full Medical Underwriting mainly affects the health insurance application process rather than the policy itself. The biggest thing that will affect your policy is that the insurer will provide a list of exclusions based on your medical history.

Moratorium Underwriting will immediately exclude any pre-existing conditions from within the last five years. Full Medical Underwriting will assess your medical history before deciding what conditions/symptoms to exclude from claims.

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While Full Medical Underwriting often works very well for people with medical conditions, you can choose Moratorium Underwriting if you would prefer to. There are pros and cons to both forms of underwriting, and the table below highlights some of the key differences between Moratorium and Full Medical Underwriting.

Moratorium UnderwritingFull Medical Underwriting
You won’t need to provide your full medical history during the application processYou will need to provide full details about your medical history by filling in a medical questionnaire
The application is quicker, as you won’t need to supply any extra medical evidenceThe application process will take slightly longer, as you need to provide medical evidence (such as a GP reports)
The claims process will usually take longer, as this is the point where the insurer will ask questions about your medical history to check if your claim is validIt is normally much quicker and easier to claim, as the insurer already has information about your health and medical history
The cost can be cheaper in some cases, as your medical history won’t be assessedThe price will often be lower if the insurer chooses to exclude specific conditions/symptoms from claims

One of the main benefits of Full Medical Underwriting is that you will immediately know what you can and can’t claim for. This can save you a lot of time further down the line, by helping you to avoid claims that are likely to be denied.

Other benefits of Full Medical Underwriting:

  • Policies will cost less in many cases, which is helpful if you have a tighter budget for cover.
  • Certain insurers will allow you to carry over previous medical exclusions that were based on Full Medical Underwriting with another insurance company This is known as Continued Personal Medical Exclusions or ‘CPME’ Underwriting.
  • Most UK health insurance companies will offer Full Medical Underwriting, so there is a wide range of potential options for your cover.

The main disadvantage of Full Medical Underwriting is that you will need to provide further details about your health when you apply. This isn’t necessarily an issue for most people, but it can be inconvenient if you want to put your policy in place as soon as possible.

If you’d rather not discuss your health in detail straight away, it is still possible to use Moratorium Underwriting if you have a pre-existing condition. It can be more expensive though in certain cases, as the insurer can view you as a higher risk. This is because they won’t know much about your health, and so can’t properly assess how likely you are to claim.

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All UK health insurance companies will view pre-existing conditions differently and will have slightly different processes for Full Medical Underwriting. This means that one insurance company could choose to exclude a condition or symptoms where another wouldn’t.

This is why it is so important to get proper advice and do some research before applying for your cover. Some health insurance companies will be a better fit than others for people with serious medical conditions or multiple health issues.

The Exeter Logo

The Exeter

Our top pick for health insurance with pre-existing conditions would be The Exeter. The Exeter is a specialist medical insurance company, and their approach to Full Medical Underwriting is much more flexible than most other health insurance companies.

The Exeter will look at your medical history and decide if there is a potential risk for claiming for treatment of a pre-existing condition in the future. They might exclude conditions that they feel you are likely to claim for but could potentially cover future complications of other conditions (e.g. retinopathy caused by diabetes).

This will all be assessed on a case-by-case basis and any exclusion will be listed in your health insurance policy documents.

The Exeter might not be the right choice for every customer with pre-existing conditions, so you should compare quotes from multiple insurers to make sure that you are 100% happy with your policy.

Health Insurance provider reviews

Bupa logo

If you choose Full Medical Underwriting with Bupa, their underwriters will assess your entire medical history when you apply. You will need to complete a medical history form and then Bupa will decide which conditions or symptoms they will and won’t cover.

They will also look at the medical history of your partner or children if you also want your policy to cover them. When you claim, Bupa might contact you to confirm that your medical condition/symptoms did not start before you bought your policy.

Bupa By You Policy Guide – CLICK HERE

Vitality logo

Vitality is a popular choice for UK health insurance customers, as their healthy rewards scheme offers top benefits like discounted smartwatches and free cinema tickets. Vitality customers who want their medical history assessed can choose Full Medical Underwriting or Continued Personal Medical Exclusions (CPME).

Vitality’s Guide to Personal Healthcare states that ‘you may be able to get cover for a pre-existing medical condition that would normally be excluded using other methods’. They will assess your medical history to decide what they would or wouldn’t allow you to claim for, so you know immediately what is covered within your policy. They may decide to ‘exclude’ claims for your condition and possibly any conditions that are related to it.

If you already have health insurance with another insurance company, you can use Vitality’s ‘Switch and Save’ service to carry over any medical exclusions that are attached to your current policy. Vitality may then be able to offer a discount to help you to save money on your premiums.

Vitality: A Guide to Personal Healthcare – CLICK HERE

Aviva logo

Aviva uses 5 different types of underwriting for their ‘Healthier Solutions’, with Full Medical Underwriting being an available option. If you apply for a new Healthier Solutions policy, Aviva will only cover a pre-existing condition that they were told about (in writing) and did not choose to exclude.

If you buy Aviva Speedy Diagnostics insurance, Aviva will only pay for diagnostic tests for pre-existing conditions that were not excluded during the application process.

Aviva might update and remove medical exclusions in the future, but only if they feel that you are unlikely to need treatment for this condition again.

Aviva Healthier Solutions Terms and Conditions – CLICK HERE

Aviva Speedy Diagnostics Terms and Conditions –  CLICK HERE

AXA logo

When applying for AXA health insurance with Full Medical Underwriting, you will have to complete a medical declaration. This must include details of your medical history and the medical history of anyone else covered by the plan (e.g. partner or children).

AXA Health may also request extra medical information from your hospital or GP while assessing your application. They will then write to you to explain any exclusions that have been applied to your policy.

AXA PPP Healthcare: Your Underwriting Choices – CLICK HERE

Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide if Full Medical Underwriting is the best choice for your health insurance policy. It can be difficult to make this decision though, and many people find it useful to get some advice from a health insurance specialist.

You can contact our health insurance experts by CLICKING HERE or by calling 0800 009 6559 for free, impartial advice.

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What is the average cost of health insurance UK?

One of the top questions that people ask about health insurance is, ‘how much does it cost on average per month?’. According to recent research taken in 2023, the average cost of a health insurance is £86 per month for a standard personal protection policy. Health insurance policies can vary dramatically based on your age and the type of cover that you need, as well as which insurance provider you choose.

Most core health insurance policies will provide a similar level of protection and coverage for private medical treatments. You can tailor your health insurance policy to suit your needs and your budget by changing the benefits and levels of cover that you receive.

Is health insurance worth it?

Health insurance is the same as most other personal protection policies that you can buy, it is down to your own personal preference and attitude to risk. The other major issue is whether you can afford to pay for health insurance every month because it can be expensive.

If you ever need to claim on your health insurance policy then the benefits can be life changing and even lifesaving. The medical treatments and care that is provided by the NHS in the UK is among the best in the world, especially for chronic illness. Unfortunately, it is a well-known fact that the NHS is struggling to meet demand and that the levels of private medical treatment are generally far superior to public health treatments.

Example: If you needed knee surgery then you would have to wait for months or even years on the NHS, whereas private health insurance will give you access to better treatment, leading specialists, and within weeks usually. Rehabilitation and therapies cover that are also provided by most health insurance policies can be invaluable, especially if you are self-employed for example.

Is private health insurance better than the NHS?

Currently, the biggest issue with the NHS is the waiting times for any consultations and access to treatments, because of how stretched its resources are. The NHS provides some of the best care in the world for chronic illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, MS, epilepsy, and asthma.

Health insurance is designed to complement and support the treatment that you can receive on the National Health Service, as well as giving you access to specialists for other medical issues such as musculoskeletal issues and cancer treatment, which are also the top reasons for claims on health insurance cover.

The main issues with NHS treatment currently and reasons for people taking out health insurance:

  • Long waiting lists for consultations, results and treatment
  • Overcrowded hospitals
  • Lack of beds
  • Shortages of NHS nurses and doctors
  • Some treatments not available (especially cancer treatments)
  • Specialists only available on private health insurance
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What is the best health insurance UK?

There are lots of different policy options when considering health insurance as well as your choice of several main insurance providers. The other consideration is whether you don’t take out health insurance and opt for receiving treatment on the NHS or paying for treatment yourself as and when you need it.

We’re constantly reviewing the top health insurance companies in the UK to find out which provide the best service, value, products and treatments. Based on our most recent reviews we suggest the following as the best health insurance UK 2023:

  1. Aviva Healthcare Solutions (Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5.0)
  2. BUPA Health Insurance (Trustpilot score: 4.0 out of 5.0)
  3. Vitality Personal Healthcare (Trustpilot score: 3.9 out of 5.0)
  4. Exeter Health+ (Trustpilot score: 4.4 out of 5.0)
  5. AXA PPP (Trustpilot score: 4.1 out of 5.0)
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Best Private Health Insurance 2023 - iam|INSURED

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