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Your questions: Will I get credit from health insurers for having a cash plan?



'If I join health insurance now, will I get any credit for my HSF membership?' (stock photo)

'If I join health insurance now, will I get any credit for my HSF membership?' (stock photo)

Getty Images/iStockphoto

'If I join health insurance now, will I get any credit for my HSF membership?' (stock photo)

Q: I am 40 years old and have a HSF policy for over 10 years now as I could never afford full health insurance cover. If I join health insurance now, will I get any credit for my HSF membership?

A: Unfortunately for this reader the insurers are only allowed to give credit for membership of other health insurance plans from Laya, Vhi or Irish Life Health, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie. Therefore, you will have to serve the standard waiting period which applies to all new members. There will also be a six-year loading which equates to a 12pc uplift in the gross premium as you are over 34 on joining, Mr Goode pointed out.

He recommends you check out the following mid-level plans: Benefit Plan from Irish Life Health; One Plan 250 from VHI; and the Essential Health 300 scheme from Laya. He also recommends that you consider keeping the HSF health plan in place as well, as this includes guaranteed refunds on a whole range of out-patient expenses which is not included in any of the health insurance plans mentioned above.

Q: I am currently helping my dad get his financial affairs in order. My mum passed away eight years ago, and as she used to look after this sort of thing, my dad hasn't done much on it since. He has a life and serious illness policy, but I don't know if it's what he needs at this stage of life. He doesn't have a mortgage, and myself and my brother are both financially independent. I told him that maybe he could look at reducing his cover, but he doesn't want to even try. He's afraid an insurer will tell him he needs to go for a medical and then will either deny him cover or increase his premiums. He is a fit and healthy 60-year-old. Any advice would be welcome.

A: The most important thing that your dad should do is get independent advice from a financial broker, according to Barry McCutcheon, proposition lead at insurer Royal London. Any decision to cancel or reduce cover should not be taken lightly.

A broker will go through a needs analysis with your dad and make sure that the policy is the correct one for him and advise whether there should be any alteration in cover, he said. However, if after taking advice he does decide to reduce the cover on his current policy, the insurer would not ask him to attend for a medical and would also reduce his premiums due to the reduction in cover, so he should not be concerned.

Life cover is a useful way to fund for funeral expenses and to leave an inheritance to children or grandchildren, Mr McCutcheon pointed out. In addition, serious illness cover helps protect against the financial consequences of serious ill health such as cancer, heart attack or stroke, which many people can experience as they get older. So, it may be the case that he would be advised to leave the cover unchanged. Although these may be uncomfortable topics for him to contemplate, particularly since your mum passed away, they are very important. By addressing them now, it should ultimately provide your dad with peace of mind, Mr McCutcheon added.

Q: I am thinking of taking out separate dental insurance but am wondering if it is really worthwhile if the same five-year, pre-existing exclusion applies just like health insurance. Any guidance would be appreciated.

A: The good news for anyone considering dental cover is that the waiting periods are much shorter compared with standard health insurance, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie. Check-ups are covered immediately from the day you join (100pc cover up to twice per year), he said.

Standard fillings and extractions are covered after three months (up to 70pc depending on the plan held) and cover for major treatments such as crowns and root canal treatment kicks in after 12 months. Cover for orthodontics is limited and the waiting period for this is normally two years, Mr Goode said.

If dental cover is of interest, you could contact the likes of DeCare Dental which is a specialist insurer in this area and it will explain the refunds due and what waiting periods will apply etc. Mr Goode said you should bear in mind that there are multiple options available. He said this means you should give some thought to your ideal budget for this policy before you contact the insurer.

Health insurers such as Vhi, Laya and Irish Life Health are not allowed to give you credit for having a cash plan, such as one from HSF.

Any decision to cancel or reduce a life and serious illness insurance policy should not be taken lightly, and financial advice is recommended.

Irish Independent