Families save €500 as health insurers cover children free
FAMILIES will be able to save almost €500 a year in private health insurance after all three providers offered to cover children for free for a year.
Health insurers Aviva and Quinn have responded to the VHI by offering the same deal on children, in a desperate attempt to stop people giving up cover, the Irish Independent has learned.
Healthcare experts said the move would go some way to countering the multiple price hikes being imposed by all three private medical insurers.
Around 6,000 people a month are giving up health insurance.
The move to try to attract families comes at a time of the year when around 850,000 people renew their cover.
VHI kicked off the move. The state-owned insurer is offering free cover for children under the age of 18 on the One Plus and Parents & Kids plans for a year.
A family with two children will save €460 a year on the Parents & Kids plan and €460 on the One Plus Plan, according to Dermot Goode of healthinsurancesavings.ie.
However, the catch with VHI is that the offers only apply to those renewing, or switching to the VHI, between tomorrow and Friday, March 16.
Mr Goode said VHI does not allow its customers to break out of or cancel their policies inside the 12-month period of the contract.
Aviva and Quinn do allow customers to change their renewal dates, he said.
Quinn is offering free cover for children and students on its Essential Select plan. This will save a family with two adults and two children €460 over a year. The offer runs from this Saturday until the bank holiday on March 19.
Aviva is launching a new plan tomorrow called Family Value, with children under the age of 18 insured for free.
Mr Goode said it was expected that the offer would remain open until Friday, March 16.
Mr Goode said families should make sure that the plans with the free cover for children meet their needs.
"They should note that each of these plans have excesses in private hospitals and in some cases, these excesses may exceed the savings made," he said.
An excess is the amount of money you have to pay yourself before you get a payout on a claim.
VHI Healthcare said two weeks ago that its prices were set to rise by up to 12.5pc next month. It is the third rise from the State-owned insurer in just over a year, and follows a similar number of rises from rivals Aviva and Quinn.
Next month's rises will see families that have the VHI Parents & Kids plan having to shell out an additional €280 for cover.
Since January 2011 the cost of this plan for a family of two adults and two children has shot up by more than €600.
However, before the free cover for children, it was open to families to escape the hikes from all three insurers by opting for cheaper corporate plans that offer similar benefits.
Families also save by opting to drop down to cheaper plans or by switching providers, Mr Goode said.