Thursday 8 December 2016

Health insurers are stepping up the price increase game

Published 01/11/2015 | 02:30

As of today, VHI will increase premiums for its health insurance products by an average of 2pc
As of today, VHI will increase premiums for its health insurance products by an average of 2pc

Most people tend to renew their health insurance plans in the first three months of the year, but if you were hoping to take out a new plan, renew or switch to a different plan or provider in the next few weeks before any new or recently announced price rises take effect, the bad news is you're too late.

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As of today, VHI will increase premiums for its health insurance products by an average of 2pc. The increases will vary across plans and will range between 1pc and 5pc.

This move will see some families having to pay more than €100 extra if they renew or take out a plan from this week.

The VHI move ends a 'price freeze' that it had in place since the start of the year. The insurer said it was the first rise in 20 months and is necessary to cover the higher cost of claims.

This is hot on the heels of an average 4pc increase announced in September across 65 Laya plans, while GloHealth and Aviva announced increases earlier in the year of 5pc and 5.5pc respectively.

Given that most of us renew our health insurance plans in the first three months of the year, announcements of annual price rises were traditionally scheduled around this time of year or a little later.

Insurers are also obliged to give one month's notice of any increases as part of the pre-renewal process, and they must inform the Health Insurance Authority a month in advance, too.

But things are no longer so simple. Nowadays there is no real pattern to health insurance increases, according to Dermot Goode of totalhealthcover.ie, a broker. They can be once a year or else multiple small increases across different plans, he said.

Indeed, price increases for specific plans rather than across the board represents probably the only distinctly new trend.

"What we're beginning to see is underwriters assessing risk on a product-by-product basis," said Mr Goode.

"If the claims experience on a particular plan is above what was priced into the product, then you can expect pricing to be adjusted to affect the new risk profile."

Sunday Indo Business

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