When you apply for health insurance, you’ll usually be able to choose an excess amount. This will have an impact on your premium and help decide how much discount you get.

So, what exactly does this mean, and how does it work when you make a claim on your policy? 

What is a health insurance excess?

It’s the amount you agree to pay towards your treatment if you make a claim on your health insurance policy. You can choose the amount that’s right for you when you first apply for cover, or when the policy’s due for renewal.

So, say you agree to a £500 excess and have a procedure covered by your policy that costs £3,000 – and it’s your first claim that policy year. When it comes to paying the bill, you’ll pay £500, and your insurer will pay the remaining £2,500. 

Why would you pay an excess?

The higher the excess you choose to pay when you make a claim, the lower the cost of your cover will be. 

Make sure you read the policy terms, though. Not every health insurance policy offers the same excess amounts or terms, and you’ll need to know what happens when it comes to paying the claim bill. 

How much is a policy excess?

It depends on the insurer. With our Healthier Solutions policy, you can choose from £100, £200, £500, £1,000, £3,000 and £5,000. 

If you’re not sure how each would impact your premiums, you could try a few options when you get a quote.

How often do you need to pay a policy excess?

You only need to pay the excess if you make a claim. Some policies have a cap on what you pay – so you pay an excess only once each policy year, regardless of how many claims you make. Others charge an excess every time you make a claim, which could certainly add up.

With our health insurance, you only pay one excess amount per person on the policy, each policy year, on the first claim. Just bear in mind that, if your treatment starts in one policy year and continues into the next, the policy excess would need to be paid again for that claim. So, if your policy renews in April and you make a claim in March, and your treatment is ongoing, you’ll pay the excess twice. 

Can you change your policy excess once you’ve taken out the health insurance policy?

Yes, you can change your policy excess amount at each annual policy renewal. 

So you could choose a higher excess, to help reduce your monthly premiums, or a lower excess, to pay less on your first claim. Or you could opt to agree an excess if you didn’t have one before.

Who do you pay the excess to, and how does it work?

If you have an excess on your policy and make a claim, you’ll need to settle this amount with the hospital or specialist, or whoever provided your approved treatment. Your insurer will explain how to do this when you make the claim.

The rest will be covered by your insurer, unless the bill is for outpatient treatment and you chose a reduced outpatient limit. With our cover, you can reduce your outpatient cover to a limit of £0, £500 or £1,000, to lower your premium.

These examples help to explain how it works if you have a health insurance policy with us:

  • If you have a £200 excess, and your treatment bill is £10,000: you’d pay £200 to the hospital or treatment provider, and we’d pay £9,800. If the treatment continued into the next policy year, another excess would apply, so you’d pay £200 towards your first treatment bill in that policy year
  • If the treatment you’re claiming for costs £1,000 and your excess is £1,000: you’d meet the full cost of that treatment yourself. That would be it for the excess payment in that policy year, though
  • If you have a £200 excess, and your treatment costs £150: you’d need to settle the full amount with your treatment provider. If you have follow-up treatment totalling £100, you’d settle the first £50 and we’d pay the difference 

If you don’t make a claim because the treatment you have costs less than your excess amount, your no claim discount won’t be affected. 

When would you not need to pay an excess?

With our health insurance, you won’t need to pay an excess if you make a claim for any of these benefits:

  • NHS cash benefit: if you use the NHS for inpatient or day treatment, instead of making a claim for private treatment, we’ll pay you £100 for each night you’re in hospital, for up to 30 nights
  • NHS cancer cash benefit: we’ll pay you £100 a day for cancer treatment as an NHS inpatient or day patient
  • Cancer treatment wigs benefit: we’ll pay towards the cost of a wig due to hair loss caused by cancer treatment
  • Donations we make to a hospice: we’ll pay a maximum of £70 a day, for up to 10 days, if you have hospice care
  • Baby bonus: we’ll give you £100 for each baby born or adopted in their first year

Which excess amount is right for you?

Try to be realistic about what you can afford to pay if you, or another person covered on your policy, needed to make a claim. 

It’s natural to want to make your premiums as low as possible by choosing a higher excess amount. But you can’t predict your future health, and you may need to be ready and able to pay your contribution towards your treatment at relatively short notice. 

Remember that your excess amount isn’t set in stone, and you can always adjust it when it comes to policy renewal time. 

Want health insurance?

Our comprehensive cover gets you the healthcare you need, when you need it. 

Health articles

Keep on top of your health and wellbeing with our guides and articles.