If you have private health insurance as part of your employer’s benefit package, you might be wondering if you can continue this cover when you retire. 

The good news is that many private health insurers will be happy to carry on covering you when you stop working, but bear in mind that the policy may cost you significantly more than it used to as an employee.

Here, we explain what happens to your private health insurance when you retire, why you might want to continue the cover, and some of the alternatives you might want to consider.

What happens to your work private health insurance when you retire?

In the majority of cases, unless you continue the policy with your health insurer, your cover will end when you retire. While some companies might automatically offer continuation policies that provide cover for a set amount of time, such as 12 months after you’ve left your job, this isn’t standard practice so make sure to check your policy’s fine print.

When you move from a company policy to a standalone one, you might find that your terms and conditions change, and it’s likely you’ll be paying considerably more for cover. Generally, when switching to a standalone policy, you can expect your premiums to rise by as much as 40% or sometimes even more.

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Get peace of mind that you could be treated quickly and receive the best possible care if you fall ill. Private health insurance pays some or all of your medical costs if you’re treated privately. Compare quotes from multiple providers and get free expert advice.

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What are the benefits of continuing employee private health insurance?

One of the most significant benefits of continuing your workplace policy is that it’s more likely that you’ll be covered for a wider range of conditions, including those you’ve already been treated for, than if you took out a new policy elsewhere.

It’s common practice for new private health insurance policies to exclude treatment for pre-existing conditions, so if you were to take out a new policy rather than continuing your old one, you might find you aren’t covered, or you have to pay a lot more for cover.

How to continue your private health insurance when you retire

You can either contact your work’s policy administrator to continue your private health insurance or contact your insurer directly to put this in place. Make sure you contact your insurer before you leave your job, otherwise, you might not be able to continue your policy.

If your insurer is happy for you to carry on your policy, it’ll offer you a new quote for the cover. One of the most important things to check is that your cover for ongoing and existing conditions is maintained.

Once you’re happy with your policy, you’ll set up a method of payment and agree a date for these payments to commence from.

Calculate your pension

Use the Rest Less pension calculator to find out how much you might need to save for retirement, how much your pension pot could potentially be worth and how long it could last.

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Other options to consider

Unfortunately, not all insurers will let you take out a continuation policy, in which case, you might want to consider some alternatives:

Take out a new policy

As with any type of insurance, it’s best to shop around and compare several different policies before buying. Most insurers provide a range of private health cover, with some covering the bare minimum and others covering pretty much every possible scenario. Depending on the level of cover you need, you could find you’re paying for services that you’re unlikely to use, so it’s worth checking what level of cover you have and whether you could look at a more basic option. This may include taking off options for outpatient treatments such as therapies, scans, tests or consultations.

You can read more about private health insurance in our article Do I need private health insurance? and ways to reduce the cost of it in How much does health insurance cost?

There are two main ways to buy private medical insurance.

You can either go directly to a health insurance provider or you can ask a health insurance broker or advisor to help you find the right cover to suit your needs.

It might seem that buying private health insurance online is the cheapest and quickest option, but there are so many terms and conditions in private health insurance policies that it’s usually a good idea to seek professional advice on the best option to suit your needs.

Get peace of mind that you could be treated quickly and receive the best possible care if you fall ill. Private health insurance pays some or all of your medical costs if you’re treated privately. Compare quotes from multiple providers and get fee-free expert advice.

Self insure

Private health insurance isn’t cheap and it’s expensive as you get older. If you rarely make a claim and it’s unaffordable to continue the cover, it might be worth considering self-insuring instead. Around one in four private patients choose this option.

Self-insuring essentially means that instead of using insurance to cover private healthcare costs, you pay for any private health services you need out of your own pocket. Many people choose to fund their own private health treatment when it’s essential and otherwise use the NHS. 

Of course, the cost of private medical treatment can be considerable. For example, hip and knee replacements can cost anywhere between £10,000 and £14,000 while MRI scans typically start from £300, so you’ll need a good chunk of savings in place if you’re planning to self insure. 

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