When you apply for health insurance, you can choose how we assess any pre-existing medical conditions you have. We’ll use either moratorium underwriting or full medical underwriting to do this.

If this is new to you, or sounds a bit baffling, don’t worry. Here’s a simple guide to what the key terms mean, and what you need to think about when deciding which one’s best for you.

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When you take out your private medical cover, you have a choice to make about how you want us to deal with pre-existing conditions. You can choose between ‘moratorium underwriting’ and ‘full medical underwriting’. It’s important you understand the difference so that you can make the right choice.  

Pre-existing condition

To understand the difference between both types of underwriting, we first need to explain what we mean by a ‘pre-existing condition’. This means if you have experienced symptoms, or received medication, advice, treatment or diagnostic tests for any disease, illness or injury before you join the policy, even if you were not diagnosed at the time, this is classed as a pre-existing condition.  

Full medical underwriting

If you choose full medical underwriting, you will have to fill out a health questionnaire and tell us about any pre-existing conditions when you apply for the policy. We may also need your permission to get further information from your GP. We don’t usually cover pre-existing conditions, however once we have assessed your questionnaire and any information from your doctor, we will let you know in your policy documents which symptoms or conditions we can’t cover under your policy.

It is important you answer our questions accurately and fully. Having a complete picture of your health at the beginning means we can be clear about what you are and aren’t covered for at the start. It can also speed up the claims process, as we are already aware of your medical history.

Moratorium underwriting

If you choose moratorium underwriting, we will not need information about your medical history when you apply for the policy. However, each time you make a claim, we will need to ask you questions about your medical history and may need information from your GP. This is to understand if your claim relates to a new or pre-existing condition or symptom. This can sometimes mean it takes us longer to deal with your claim. 

Under moratorium underwriting, you may be covered for pre-existing conditions, depending on when you last experienced symptoms or received medication, diagnostic tests, treatment or advice for it. If this was within the five years before you joined, then you will not be covered for it until you have been free from any medication, treatment, diagnostic tests or advice for two continuous years.

Let’s think about that in real terms. 

If you had pain in your left knee three years before you joined the policy, treatment for that condition will not be covered when you join. You may still experience symptoms, but will need to wait until two continuous years have passed after joining the policy without any treatment, diagnostic tests, medication or advice for that knee condition. You will then be covered for that condition after that two-year period has ended.  

If you receive any treatment, diagnostic tests, medication or advice about the knee condition within two years after you join, you will have to wait until two continuous years have passed from when it all stopped.  

Our full terms are available in our policy booklet, and if you still have any questions, you can always call us. 

What's a pre-existing condition?

It's when you've had symptoms, medication, advice, treatment or diagnostic tests for a disease, illness or injury before you take out the policy. We need to know about these conditions, even if you weren't diagnosed at the time, so we know what we can and can't cover. That's because health cover is usually meant for new and unexpected medical conditions.

Compare your health underwriting options

There are a few key differences around applying and making a claim when it comes to pre-existing conditions:

Moratorium underwriting

  • You won't need to tell us about any pre-existing conditions when you apply
  • If you had a pre-existing condition in the five years before you take out cover, you'll only be covered for it once you've been free from medication, treatment, diagnostic tests or advice for the condition for two continuous years after your cover started
  • Each time you make a claim we'll look at your medical history, and may ask for information from your GP, to understand if your symptom or condition is new or pre-existing. So the claims process may take a bit longer

Full medical underwriting

  • You complete a full health questionnaire and tell us about any pre-existing conditions when you apply. We may also ask for information from your GP
  • Pre-existing conditions aren't usually covered. Once we've considered your information, your policy documents will tell you which symptoms or conditions we can't cover
  • When you claim, we'll already know what you're covered for, so the process may be quicker
  • It may cost less than moratorium underwriting

You can choose which type of underwriting you'd like us to use when you reach the medical history step of your application.

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