By Charlie Weston
Question: I am travelling to Greece this summer with my husband for three weeks and I want to take out some travel insurance to be on the safe side. As I have had a pre-existing medical condition for the last two years I wonder will I still be able to get adequate cover?
Answer: Yes, you will be able to get cover, according to Jonathan Hehir of InsureMyHoliday.ie. But you might have to jump through a few hoops first.
A pre-existing medical condition is any medical or psychological illness, disease or condition for which you or your travelling companion has received medical advice, treatment or medication within the last two to three years, depending on your insurer.
When contacting a broker for a quote, you must inform the insurer of your health condition and history in full before purchasing insurance.
You will likely be requested to undergo a medical screening process at the time of taking out your insurance. Some insurers do this online via a questionnaire, and others through external agencies. If, subject to screening, you do obtain cover for your medical condition, you may have to pay a higher excess or premium on your policy.
If cover is refused for your pre-existing condition, do remember that insurers will generally only exclude claims relating specifically to that medical condition, and the rest of your travel insurance will not be affected. If there is any change of health between the date of purchase of your policy and the date of departure it’s essential to advise your insurer as soon as possible.
Question: My late husband had a health insurance policy with Irish Life, Level 2 Hospital. I was listed as a dependent. Unfortunately, my husband died in February and as the policy was in his name Irish Life now says the policy must be cancelled and a new one organised for me. I find health cover very confusing and wonder can you offer me any advice as to the best plan out there. I am 78 and healthy. I am not on any medication. Apparently I have 13 weeks to maintain cover.
Answer: The first point to make here is that there will be no issue re-instating of the policy to ensure continuity of cover. When a policyholder dies, the insurer will normally need to set up a new policy in the name of the surviving spouse or partner, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.
Usually, the insurer will backdate this to the date of death, but the reader has up to 13 weeks to take out a new policy in her own name and there will be no new waiting periods to serve, he says.
The second point to make here is that while the Level 2 Hospital scheme is excellent cover, it’s on the market for some time now and is quite expensive at around €2,700 per adult, Mr Goode points out.
If you are open to taking on a small excess of €50 per claim in private hospitals only, Mr Goode recommends the new 4D Health 4 corporate plan from Irish Life Health which will reduce the cost to €1,466 for the year.
This plan represents a slight upgrade in cover as it covers private accommodation in private hospitals compared with semi-private on the current plan.
Question: I’m switching my mortgage to another lender for a better rate. My broker has told me I need to increase the sum insured on my home insurance policy. My new lender wants it to be over €300,000. It is currently only €200,000. I can’t understand the rationale for this.
Answer: The buildings sum insured on your home insurance policy is taken from what the valuer believes is the rebuild cost, according to the head of credit at My Mortgages.ie Joey Sheahan.
The valuer will include this figure in your valuation report. It is calculated based on the location of your property, its size and the cost to rebuild per square foot, as per the rebuild cost on the Society of Chartered Surveyors website (scsi.ie). For example, if you have a 1,600 sq ft house in Dublin, then the estimated rebuild cost is €194 per square foot and the total buildings insurance required would be €310,400.
The estimated cost of rebuilding a property has increased over the past few years so maybe the amount of €200,000 was sufficient for your property previously but is not anymore.
Unfortunately, there’s not really any way around this other than to shop around for your home insurance cover. Mr Sheahan says the market is very competitive so you may be able to negate the premium increase by securing a better deal with another insurer.
If you do obtain cover for your pre-existing medical condition, you may have to pay a higher excess or premium on your policy.
When a health insurance policyholder dies, the insurer will normally need to set up a new policy in the name of their surviving spouse or partner.
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