Going it alone: How IHC guides group leavers to the best new cover
Salim Gani and Tony Dart
At IHC we aim to offer the very best service to our group clients and, of course, this extends to employees who leave group schemes and are keen to continue with private medical cover once they are no longer eligible for their employer’s scheme.
It’s something we specialise in, and it is something that often requires some explanation. Clients leaving schemes naturally have concerns and preconceptions about continuing their cover. They want to carry on with the same level or reassurance and peace of mind they enjoyed as members of a group scheme. But for group leavers, there are differences that need to be made clear.
One of the key differences is cost. Frequently, group clients moving to individual schemes expect costs to remains similar. In fact, this is rarely, if ever, the case. The cost of an individual scheme can be significantly higher, and the level of benefits may not be quite the same either.
Another common misconception among leavers of group schemes is that, as they already have cover, they need not reapply, and that their previous medical history is not relevant. This is not quite right. Just because they have been a member of a scheme – even if that membership is longstanding – they are likely to have to go through an application process before having their new scheme finalised. Regardless of their loyalty as a group member, insurers will need fresh information.
Just how we approach finding appropriate cover depends on a number of different issues. All insurers have different criteria when it comes to continuation of cover, and IHC will ascertain whether or not a client is eligible. There might be time limits in place, and it may be a challenge to find benefits that match those offered through the company scheme. We also require clients to provide all the information we need, when we need it, in order for an application to go smoothly.
At IHC, our approach makes the process as straightforward as possible for our clients. We work with all the information clients and insurers offer, checking for continuous cover eligibility, exploring the terms on offer from the current insurer and looking at various levels of cover and benefits.
While the cost of premium for individual cover is likely to be higher than that of group cover, we work hard to reduce those costs, for example by looking at increasing excess and reducing the benefits offered through a scheme. We may also look at the whole market, if there are no pre-existing medical conditions to take into account, and where available we will look at the market on switch terms too.
“The group leaver process can be tricky and requires expert advice,” says Paul Roberts, IHC consultant. “A lot of people misunderstand and think the process is just a question of replicating the cover they have had in place through a group scheme. In reality, it is rarely that simple and the service we offer, and the cover provided, is actually tailored to each individual case.”