Cancelling any type of insurance is fairly straightforward and there are certain rules in place to prevent consumers from becoming stuck with a financial product that they've changed their mind about.
In this article, we explain how to cancel your health insurance policy and the cancellation rules that you should understand when doing so. You can also speak to an independent health insurance specialist* who can provide you with the pros and cons of cancelling your health insurance and even help you to reduce the cost of it. If you do switch to a cheaper health insurance policy, you will receive £100 cashback (the offer ends 31st July 2023).
Can you cancel your health insurance?
Yes, it is possible to cancel health insurance, also referred to as private medical insurance, and the Consumer Contracts Regulation that was brought about in 2013 ensures that certain standards are applied for anyone who chooses to cancel a contract within 14 days of completing the purchase. However, you will find there are differences in your rights to refunds and continued claims, depending on when in the policy year you cancel your health insurance which we describe further in this article.
Can you cancel health insurance at any time?
You can cancel your health insurance policy at any time but you may not receive a refund for the premiums paid in certain circumstances and you may even be required to repay any claims that have been paid prior to cancellation. If you have claimed during the current policy year or are in the middle of a claim, you may be required to continue your cover for the duration of the claim.
How to cancel health insurance during the cooling-off period
If you buy a health insurance policy and decide that you do not wish to continue the cover, you can change your mind within the cooling-off period. The cooling-off period is the time given to each customer to consider their decision after starting the policy. The beginning of the cooling-off period can vary between different insurance companies - it will either start from the date that your cover was taken out or from the date that you receive your full policy terms by email or post. You will find the cancellation terms, usually towards the end of your policy terms and conditions booklet.
A 14-day cooling off period must be offered by all health insurance providers as a minimum but as you will see from the table below, some insurers give you more time to consider your decision and change your mind.
How long do I have to change my mind about the health insurance plan I have bought?
|Health insurance company||No. of days cooling off period^|
|AXA health||14 days|
|The Exeter||30 days|
^ you can cancel your health insurance within the cooling-off period and you will receive a refund of any paid premium amount if you do so
How to cancel health insurance outside the cooling-off period
You can cancel your health insurance plan by emailing or calling your insurer to notify them of your wish to cancel your policy. You should also cancel the direct debit instruction from your bank so that no more premiums are collected as you are unlikely to receive a refund of any paid premiums outside the cooling-off period.
If you have made a claim or a claim is continuing to be paid from a previous year of cover, you may be required to either continue your health insurance for the remainder of the policy year or pay back the amount paid for the claim. The insurer may also charge an administration fee upon cancellation which will be detailed in the policy terms and conditions.
Do you get a refund if you cancel your health insurance policy?
If you cancel your health insurance policy within the cooling-off period then you will usually get a refund of any premium payments made, as long as you have not claimed on the policy during this period. You generally cannot get a refund if you cancel after the cooling-off period has passed.
It is unlikely that you will receive a refund even if you cancel your health insurance during the cooling-off period if you make a claim. Furthermore, you will most likely be expected to pay the claim amount if you choose to cancel your health insurance before your policy year ends.
Should I cancel my health insurance to save money?
Whether you are merely trying to reduce your outgoings or if you can no longer afford to pay for your health insurance, you should give careful consideration before cancelling your health insurance. Of course, if you are not able to pay for your health insurance then you may have no choice but to cancel it. However, do consider ways of reducing the cost of your health insurance before doing so as you may find ways to keep your cover by stripping it of some of the extra options and benefits that it may include.
If you are considering cancelling your health insurance policy, one thing to be mindful of is your moratorium period. When you renew your health insurance policy each year, your cover continues with the same terms, even if you switch providers, meaning you are more likely to be covered for existing health conditions. A gap in your cover could mean that if you do decide to later buy health insurance again, you will need to go through another moratorium period - usually two to five years - meaning you won't be covered for medical conditions and symptoms that you have been treated for or have seen a doctor about during that timeframe.
The best thing to do is to speak to a health insurance broker* who will help you to evaluate how you could reduce your health insurance costs; perhaps switch providers for a better deal and if you really do have to cancel your health insurance they will ensure that you do so easily. For a limited time, you will receive £100 cashback if you buy a health insurance policy this way - the offer ends on 31st July 2023.
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