Charlie Weston: How to bag the best deals with ever-rising cost of health cover
If you are among the thousands due to renew your health insurance in the coming weeks the likelihood is that you will be faced with a much higher premium than you paid last year.
There were multiple small price rises throughout last year. Some of these sneaky rises may not have been noticed, but when combined they mean that there were average rises of 10pc last year. This means that some families will be facing rises of between €300 and €500 when they renew now.
Close to half of those with health cover are due to renew their policies in the first three months of the year. This means almost one million people will be faced with higher prices.
There are around 350 different health plans, and some of them are being adjusted almost monthly, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.
Yet 85pc of consumers renewed on the same policy, with the same insurer, at their last renewal, according to Central Bank research.
These people are almost certainly paying more than they need to for their cover, which goes to show that loyalty is for suckers.
Your best bet if you are due to renew is to block off an afternoon. Get out the details of your current plan.
Ring you insurer and ask for the nearest equivalent plan to the one you are on, but cheaper. Say you want to be given the best options across all plans offered by the insurer.
Remind the staff member that calls are being recorded.
Ask about corporate plans, and nurses and teachers affiliate plans - which everyone is entitled to get if they ask for them.
Get the insurer to explain in detail what is different about the policies being outlined to you compared with your current one.
Stay on the phone until you are sure of the ins and outs of the plans being recommended. Ask and ask again if you do not understand something. Then get the insurer to write to you with the full details of the plans outlined.
Do all of this again by ringing other insurers for quotes and plan details. You will not lose out if you opt for a similar level of cover from another provider. With so many plans in the market there is bound to be a better-value alternative to your current one.
You can reduce the cost of your cover by taking on an excess - an amount you pay when you have to make a claim.
Worth considering is splitting your cover, where you put the children on lower value plans than the adults.
Ask yourself if you really need a private room, which can't always be guaranteed anyway.
Sunday Indo Business