Price not enough to com­pare in­sur­ance

Pilbara News - - Lifestyle - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood Gwyn­neth Hay­wood is the se­nior re­gional of­fi­cer for Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion.

Con­sumers can be for­given if they feel over­whelmed or con­fused by the myr­iad in­sur­ance op­tions cur­rently be­ing ad­ver­tised.

At the end of ev­ery fi­nan­cial year health in­sur­ance providers start talk­ing about tax, sur­charges and re­bates, but don’t let this rush you into a poor de­ci­sion.

Health in­sur­ance is a com­plex area and your needs may change with time, so when you are look­ing to take out or re­view your health in­sur­ance pol­icy there are a num­ber of con­sumer tips that can help with your de­ci­sion.

The first is when you com­pare poli­cies you need to read more than the la­bel. A re­cent re­view highlighted that if you just com­pare “top” cover be­tween in­sur­ers what is ac­tu­ally in­cluded in that cover can vary greatly.

Top hospi­tal cover on one pol­icy may be com­pa­ra­ble to a lower level of hospi­tal cover with an­other in­surer.

We rec­om­mend you com­pare poli­cies in de­tail and think care­fully about your needs be­fore shop­ping for poli­cies based on price alone. Some cheaper poli­cies may not be value for money in the long run be­cause they may have a num­ber of im­por­tant ex­clu­sions.

The re­sults from com­para­tor web­sites can also be am­bigu­ous be­cause they do not al­ways make it clear that they don’t com­pare the en­tire mar­ket when they re­turn the “best” price.

The gov­ern­ment web­site pri­vate­health.gov.au is a great place to start a full re­view of your health in­sur­ance.

This web­site is set up un­der leg­is­la­tion and ev­ery in­surer is re­quired to pro­vide up-to-date in­for­ma­tion about what is cov­ered by each pol­icy and its prices.

The site has a com­par­i­son fea­ture you can use for health in­sur­ance poli­cies from all the pri­vate health in­sur­ers and also of­fers ad­vice on man­ag­ing your pol­icy, in­clud­ing leav­ing or switch­ing com­pa­nies.

An­other key point is that if you wish to switch to an­other in­sur­ance com­pany’s pol­icy, which has the same or lower level of ben­e­fit, you will not have to serve an­other wait­ing pe­riod.

How­ever, if your new pol­icy cov­ers new or higher ben­e­fits which were not cov­ered in your pre­vi­ous one, then you will need to serve those wait­ing pe­ri­ods, un­less oth­er­wise ne­go­ti­ated with your new fund provider.

Any claims you have al­ready been paid by your pre­vi­ous fund may be taken into ac­count in your an­nual ben­e­fit lim­its.

Re­mem­ber you are not obliged to stay with your cur­rent in­sur­ance com­pany.

A health fund can­not refuse to in­sure you or refuse to sell you any pol­icy you want to buy on the ba­sis of your health or how likely you are to claim.

You can al­ways con­sider switch­ing in­sur­ers to ob­tain a bet­ter deal and you won’t be charged exit or set-up fees to do so.

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