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Ultimate guide to health insurance renewals

Private health insurance is the best way to give yourself peace of mind that you will receive top quality medical care if you become ill or injured.

It’s easy to assume that health insurance works similarly to life insurance and offers you ongoing cover for years at a time. Many people don’t realise that they need to renew their policy every year to make sure that their health cover stays in place.

Why is renewing your health insurance important?

Health insurance covers you for private medical treatment costs if you become ill or injured. Most health insurance policies will cover you for 1 year maximum.

Health insurance plans work similarly to other forms of insurance (e.g. car insurance) as in most cases you will need to renew your cover each year. This is generally a good thing, as it gives you the flexibility to review your policy often and add or remove benefits that no longer work for you.

You can also take your renewal notice as an opportunity to switch to a new provider if you’re not 100% happy with your current policy.

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Here are the top reasons to renew your policy and review your cover to make sure it still works for you.

1) Your premiums may be higher now

If you have claimed on your policy in the last year, your insurer may want to increase the pricing of your health insurance premiums.

When you talk to your insurer about renewing your policy, they should tell you if they want to increase the cost for any reason. They will consider factors such as your age, if you have claimed (and number of claims) to determine if your policy price will increase.

Note: Some providers offer no claims discounts which you can add to your policy (for an extra cost). This could help offset price increases due to your age if you haven’t made any claims within the last year.

2) Opportunity for better deals with other insurers

Another provider might offer attractive additional benefits for the same prices as you are paying now. Health insurance providers often offer some great incentives to new customers.

Health insurance providers work hard to add high quality benefits to their products. This helps them to keep current customers and attract new ones. Vitality for example offer a huge range of brilliant member benefits including gym discounts, FREE cinema tickets, discounted food, drink, holidays and more.

3) You need a different type of policy

If your family has grown or you have started a business, a family or business health insurance policy might now be a better choice for you compared to individual cover.

Health insurance providers often offer multiple types of health insurance. If you like your current provider, you can usually switch to a new type of policy if you ask. You should contact them directly or speak to a health insurance specialist for advice.

4) Your insurer has age limits

Providers can have upper age limits that they won’t insure beyond due to higher risk of claiming. Most insurers will continue cover after this for existing customers. However, if you turn 70 years old and your insurer won’t cover you after this, another insurer might have a higher age limit (e.g. age 75 or 80).

There are some excellent insurance providers in the UK that are good options for older customers such as:

Prices rising image

Does health insurance get more expensive as we get older?

As we all get older, prices for insurance policies like life insurance or health insurance will rise. This is because insurers will see you as a greater risk for becoming ill and needing to claim, as everyone’s health tends to decline as they age.

Your age is one of the key reasons to check if you can get a better deal for your health insurance. Your current provider may choose to charge you more than another provider would, especially if you have needed to claim recently.

If you want to continue cover with your current health insurance provider, this is what you will need to do.

1) Wait for them to contact you (or contact them) – Your insurer will normally get in touch a few weeks before your policy needs to be renewed. Sometimes, they will send you an initial quote for how much your cover might cost if you choose to renew.

2) The insurer looks at your current policy – The provider will assess the cover you currently have as well as factors that may affect the price moving forwards e.g. age, medical history or previous claims.

3) You get a decision – The insurer will work out the new price of your cover (accounting for factors like no claims discount). They might also tell you about new benefits that are available to add to your policy if you would like to.

4) Decide if you want to stay – You can then make the choice of accepting the terms offered by your provider or letting your cover end and choosing a new insurer.

It’s possible you want to change your health insurance provider after your policy term ends. You can switch to a new provider part way through your policy too, but you will need to cancel your existing cover first.

This is a common occurrence with health insurance and the process is fairly straightforward.

1) Contact your current provider – You will need to speak to your provider to either cancel your policy or let them know you won’t be renewing your cover with them.

2) Do some research – Look at your options for health insurance and choose the provider and policy that works best for you.

3) Speak to a health insurance specialist – At this point it can be helpful to talk to a health insurance expert to help you compare quotes and prices across the market.

4) Talk to a new insurance provider – You will need to answer some questions about your health, where you live, how much cover you want etc.

5) Buy your policy – If you are happy with the terms being offered, agree to your new policy and pay now (annual payment) or set up monthly payments (premiums). You might be able to switch your old policy terms to your new provider (if they agree to this).

Depending on the terms of your current policy and the insurer you choose, you might be able to carry over underwriting decisions.

This means if your current insurer has agreed to provide cover for a chronic or pre-existing medical condition, the new insurer may agree to do the same. This is referred to as ‘continued moratorium’ underwriting.

Note: You can often benefit from incentives for switching your policy, as health insurance providers will compete to offer the best terms to attract new customers.

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Your health insurance policy should be renewed once per year with most providers. Most UK insurance providers only sell health insurance policy with 1 year policy terms. If you are with a provider who has offered a longer policy term, it is still a good idea to reassess your cover each year.

This gives you the chance to decide if your provider is offering:

  • Good value for money
  • High enough level of cover (or more cover than you need)
  • The right benefits (other insurers may offer better member benefits as standard)

Note: If you’re not sure when your health plan year (policy term) ends, you should contact your provider or check the terms and conditions of your policy. Most providers will have your policy documents easily available to you through an online account on their website.

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Generally, the process of renewing your health insurance will be similar no matter which provider you are with. Below we have some more details about each provider and how you can renew your current policy with them.

AXA logo

AXA Health Insurance renewal process

When will AXA Health contact you?

AXA Health should contact you around 3-6 weeks before your policy term ends.

Will your policy auto-renew?

YES – If you don’t contact AXA Health your policy will renew automatically for another year.

Aviva logo

Aviva Health Insurance renewal process

When will Aviva contact you?

Aviva should contact you within the 30 days before your policy term is due to end.

Will your policy auto-renew?

YES – If you don’t contact Aviva your policy will renew automatically for another year.

Bupa logo

Bupa Health Insurance renewal process

When will Bupa contact you?

Bupa should contact you within the 28 days before your policy term is due to end.

Will your policy auto-renew?

YES – If you don’t contact Bupa your policy will renew automatically for another year.

Freedom health insurance logo

Freedom Health Insurance renewal process

When will Freedom Health Insurance contact you?

You will be contacted by Freedom before your policy is due to end. They aim to contact you within a reasonable time before the end of your policy term.

Will your policy auto-renew?

NO – Freedom Health Insurance will not automatically renew. You will need to speak to Freedom and agree to the terms set out for your next policy year.

Health-on-Line health insurance logo

Health-on-Line Health Insurance renewal process

When will Health-on-Line contact you?

Health-on-Line is part of AXA Health and so will follow the same process as AXA policies.

Will your policy auto-renew?

YES – If you don’t contact Health-on-Line (AXA Health) your policy will renew automatically for another year.

National Friendly health insurance logo

National Friendly Health Insurance renewal process

When will National Friendly contact you?

National Friendly offer 5 year terms for health insurance. They will write to you every year about how much your next policy year will cost. They will contact you before the 5th anniversary of your policy to let you know the terms of renewal.

Will your policy auto-renew?

YES – If you don’t contact National Friendly, your policy will renew automatically for another 5 year term.

The Exeter logo

The Exeter Health Insurance renewal process

When will The Exeter contact you?

The Exeter will contact you before your policy is due to end about renewing your cover.

Will your policy auto-renew?

NO – The Exeter does not automatically renew your policy. You will need to speak to The Exeter and agree your policy terms for the next year if you want your cover to continue.

Vitality logo

Vitality Health Insurance renewal process

When will Vitality contact you?

Vitality will contact you towards the end of your policy term about the terms for renewing your cover.

Will your policy auto-renew?

NO – Vitality will contact you with new terms, but won’t renew cover automatically. You will need to speak to Vitality and agree to your new policy terms for your cover to continue.

WPA logo

WPA Health Insurance renewal process

When will WPA contact you?

WPA will contact you before your policy is due to end to discuss options for renewing cover.

Will your policy auto-renew?

Should I stick with my current health insurance provider or switch to a new one?

Here are the pros and cons of opting to stay with your current health insurance provider.

ProCon
No claims discount (NCD) may lead to savings (if added)May charge you more when you renew based on previous claims
Familiarity with their processes and how their policies workBetter prices/benefits may be available with other providers
Less hassle than switching/looking for a new providerPolicy may not offer a suitable level of cover for what you need now
Can I cancel my health insurance at any time?YES – You are never tied into an insurance policy indefinitely.   You can cancel health insurance at any point during your policy term. Simply contact your provider and let them know you no longer want/need the cover.
Will the price go up when I renew my health insurance policy?Possibly. This will depend on if you have claimed in the last year and the terms set by your provider. The cost of health insurance may go up if you have recently claimed. 

If you haven’t claimed and have a no claims discount, your policy may decrease in price.
Does health insurance automatically renew?Several insurance providers have set their policies to automatically renew – but they should still contact you to let you know your renewal date is coming up.   This then gives you the chance to let your policy renew or opt to cancel and switch to a new provider.
What does it mean when I ‘renew’ my health insurance?If you renew your policy, this means you are agreeing to another year of cover with your current provider.   You might have the same policy terms or choose to add or remove benefits from your policy.
Do you have to renew health insurance every year?In the UK, most health insurance policies will have a maximum policy term of 1 year.   This means that you will have to renew the policy if you want to stay with your current insurance provider.
What is the renewal date of insurance?The ‘renewal date’ of your policy is the date that your cover is set to renew for another year. This is usually the date your policy term for the previous year ends.   Some providers will renew your policy automatically on this date if you don’t contact them.

The choice of what to do when your health insurance policy comes up for renewal is completely up to you. If the policy is set to auto-renew and you are happy with your cover, you won’t need to do anything.

If you think another provider will work better for you now, you can approach them directly or speak to a specialist for help with swapping your policy over. Getting help from an expert can take away some of the time and hassle of searching for new policies yourself.

Simply explain the level of cover and benefits you need and our specialist health insurance providers can compare policies for you quickly and easily.

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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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