7 hidden health insurance benefits you could be missing out on

Medical insurance can be confusing, and while it can be annoying if something you thought was covered isn’t, you could also be missing out on benefits you never knew your policy had. Of course these benefits vary depending on your policy type, so it’s worth checking with your insurer, but here are some common examples of benefits that largely go unclaimed.

1. Baby bonus

If you’ve had a child recently you could be entitled to make a claim for this cash benefit. Many policies include a baby bonus ranging from £100-200 on the birth of your child. Either the father or mother can claim, but if you’re both on the policy then only one of you is entitled to the benefit. You’ll usually be sent a cheque out in the post. For verification reasons you’ll have to provide details of the hospital your child was born, their name and date of birth.

It’s worth mentioning that most insurers have a requirement that your policy has been active for 10 months before they’re willing to accept any baby bonus claims, but this can differ with some corporate policies. Like anything check your policy wording for the specifics, or call your insurer for clarification.

2. Parent accompanying child accommodation

If you have a child and they’re staying in hospital, you could be entitled to claim for the accommodation costs of staying nearby. Your insurer won’t pay for a 5 star hotel, but you’ll be able to reclaim your costs for an average priced local hotel. Only one parent is covered for this, but if you’re buying a room there’s no reason you both can’t stay. There’s normally an age limit for your child between 11-14 years old, which differs depending on your insurer.

3. NHS cash benefit

If you stay in an NHS hospital your policy could entitle you to a cash benefit. This ultimately saves your insurer money as they’re not having to shell out for expensive private treatment. Your insurer won’t cover you for the first 3 nights of an emergency admission, but after this you’ll receive around £100 a night.

Insurers distinguish between ‘planned’ and ‘unplanned’ in patient admissions. If you’ve got a procedure booked then this will class as a ‘planned’ admission and you can claim cash benefit from your very first night. However, for example if you go to your GP that morning and are asked to go into hospital later in the day, while this isn’t an emergency admission, it’s classed as unplanned, so the 3 night exclusion period will apply.

It’s worth mentioning that your claim will need to be assessed in the usual way when you call your insurer. This means you’ll only be entitled to NHS cash benefit for any stays in hospital which your policy would have covered you if you’d used it. So say you’re excluded for asthma and you’re admitted to hospital with an asthma attack, you won’t be entitled to the cash benefit on your policy, as this is something your policy wouldn’t have covered you for anyway.

4. Private ambulance

If it’s medically necessary that you travel between hospitals by private ambulance, your insurer should cover this. Primarily this is used when a patient has been admitted as an emergency to an NHS hospital, and later they wish to transfer to a private facility. Insurers won’t pay out for a private ambulance unless it’s absolutely necessary, to if a taxi could do the job, then you’ll have to pay for this yourself.

5. Home nursing

Some insurers will cover you for home nursing if you need it following an accident or operation. This often works out cheaper for your insurer, as the alternative could be you staying in hospital for longer. However, it’s worth mentioning that this benefit is only available on very comprehensive policies, and some insurers still don’t have this option on any of their policies.

6. Dental / Optical benefit

On some policies dental and optical benefits are included as standard. This is particularly true with company policies, so you may be able to claim back some of your routine expenses through your cover. All you need to do to claim this benefit is call your insurer, get a claim reference number and send in your receipts.

7. International cover

If you’re going abroad some policies cover you for medical treatment for up to 90 days as standard on your policy. This doesn’t replace the need for travel insurance as it won’t get you back home, but it does cover any transfers to the nearest facility with appropriate medical treatment. It’s a useful addition that’s handy to have in case of an emergency.

There may be other benefits you’re entitled to receive. The best way to learn about these is to check your policy wording or call your insurer. If you ask then your insurer will explain all the additional benefits to you, and a good claims assessor will always point out where you could be claiming additional benefits when you make your claim.

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