Moratorium underwriting vs full medical underwriting 

The choice of health insurance underwriting can significantly impact both your monthly premium costs and overall claims experience. To assist you in making an informed decision, we have written a guide on moratorium underwriting and full medical underwriting, explaining the differences between the two options, and helping you select the most suitable one for your needs. 


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What are the primary types of private medical insurance underwriting? 



  • Moratorium underwriting 

  • Full medical underwriting 



Private medical insurance policies offer two main underwriting options: moratorium underwriting and full medical underwriting.  

The choice of underwriting does not impact the coverage of your policy. Your health insurance provider will still offer coverage for essential services and treatments, along with a selection of optional extras, allowing you to customise your coverage according to your specific needs. 

Every health insurance provider has standard exclusions that apply to all policies. These exclusions typically include chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, or angina, as well as treatments for addiction, cosmetic surgery, and routine pregnancy and childbirth. However, the specific list of exclusions may vary among different insurers. 


Pre-existing medical conditions and the moratorium period 


Health insurance policies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions. These conditions are ones for which you have experienced symptoms requiring medical advice or treatment within the five years before your policy starts. This means that any private medical treatment related to those pre-existing conditions will not be covered by your insurance. For instance, if you have received treatment for hip pain, your insurance will not cover any related treatments, such as a hip replacement. However, it’s important to note that you can still receive treatment for these conditions through the National Health Service (NHS). 


The moratorium period 


A moratorium is a waiting period that applies to your policy before coverage for a pre-existing condition begins. If you received treatment for a condition within the five years before your policy started, it will be excluded from coverage. However, if you remain symptom-free for two consecutive years after the policy begins, your insurer may offer coverage for that condition. 

It’s crucial to understand that the two-year symptom-free period needs to be continuous, as a rolling moratorium is usually in place. This means that if you remain symptom-free for a year but then require treatment, the moratorium period will restart. 


Moratorium underwriting 


When you choose underwriting with a moratorium, any pre-existing conditions will not be covered for the initial two years of your policy. Let’s explore some of the benefits of moratorium underwriting and a possible drawback.



The underwriting process 


When you opt for moratorium health insurance, the application process is usually fast and straightforward. The insurance company won’t require you to share details about your medical history or any pre-existing conditions during the application. This makes moratorium underwriting a suitable option if you have a favourable medical record since there will likely be no pre-existing conditions to exclude. 

You can get a price estimate for the health insurance policy you want and start paying the monthly premiums without having to share detailed information about your medical history. 


The claims process 


One drawback of moratorium underwriting is that the processing of your claim might take longer. When you contact your insurer, they will examine your medical history to determine if a particular pre-existing condition is excluded from coverage. As a result, there could be a delay before you can begin your treatment. 




Moratorium policies come with higher premiums compared to policies with full medical underwriting. The reason behind this is that insurers evaluate the likelihood of you making a claim when they provide a quote. Since you do not provide any medical information before obtaining the policy, the insurer must account for the risk that you might require costly treatment in the future. As a result, this risk is often factored into higher insurance premiums. 


Switching to a new health insurance provider 


When your health insurance policy is up for renewal, you may be interested in comparing other insurance providers to see if you can find a better deal. However, if you haven’t needed treatment for a pre-existing condition in the last one or two years, you might be reluctant to switch. Doing so could reset the waiting period for coverage of that condition, which might affect your decision. 


Fortunatley, When you change insurance companies, you can keep your existing moratorium. It’s called switch moratorium underwriting, or continued moratorium underwriting. This means you can transfer the time you’ve already waited for coverage to your new insurance provider. 


Full medical underwriting 


Full medical underwriting (FMU) works much like moratorium underwriting in that it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions during the first two years of your policy. However, the key differences between the two types of underwriting are in how they assess and handle your medical history and claims. 



The underwriting process  


If you choose full medical underwriting, you’ll need to complete a health questionnaire with details about your entire medical history and any pre-existing conditions. You’ll also need to sign a declaration confirming the accuracy of the information. 

Because of this detailed process, it might take longer for your application to be processed as your insurer may contact your doctor for more information about your medical history before deciding on coverage. 

However, the advantage of this approach is that your insurer can assess beforehand if you have any pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered. This way, you’ll know exactly what’s covered and what’s not under the policy. 


The claims process 


One significant advantage of full medical underwriting is that both you and your insurer have a clear understanding of what is covered by your health insurance policy right from the beginning. This reduces the risk of having a claim rejected later. Additionally, the entire process is faster because your insurer does not need to investigate your medical history before making a decision. 




In general, choosing full medical underwriting typically results in lower premiums. This is because your insurer can accurately evaluate your individual situation, including any pre-existing medical conditions, and assess the risk of you needing treatment before providing you with a quote. 




Switching to a new health insurance provider 


When it’s time to renew your health insurance, you might find a different insurer that offers better coverage for less money. But if changing insurers means they won’t cover a pre-existing condition, continued personal medical exclusions underwriting lets you keep that condition covered under the new policy, just like it was in your current one, even after switching to a new insurer. 

In conclusion, when considering Moratorium underwriting vs. full medical underwriting for your health insurance, it’s essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option. To make an informed decision and ensure you have the right coverage, consulting with an independent specialist health insurance broker like My Health Protected is crucial before switching to another insurer. They can help you understand the differences between the two types of underwriting and find a policy that suits your specific needs and circumstances, providing you with peace of mind and the right protection for your health. 






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