Online expat health insurance premiums hiked by clickthroughs

Published:  23 Jun at 6 PM
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Most expats are happy to buying what they need online when they can’t find it in their host country, but purchasing health insurance via the internet can be a costly and unreliable proposition.

Online clients may not realise that, although search engines are the best way to find goods, they’re not suitable for finding services. Purchasing the right health insurance when living overseas is essential, but comparison sites simply redirect your search to insurance company web pages.

Once on a health insurance firm’s website, there’s no way to discern whether it’s the right company for you, with the laborious process of getting a quote having to be undertaken over and over again for comparison purposes. What most expats don’t realise is that each company makes a ‘click through’ payment of up to £60 to the comparison site, with or without a deal being made, and this payment is added to the cost of health policies offered.

Given the huge number of click-throughs the best-known companies pay for, it’s no surprise that annual premium increases are hitting double figures. Surprisingly, only one in every 10 visits referred from comparison sites results in a sale, with other policy purchasers having to cover the click-through fees for the nine who didn’t buy.

Using a broker isn’t necessarily the answer, as health insurance companies offer commissions of up to 70 per cent of the premium paid by new clients. Some providers increase the commission paid to the broker to as much as 90 per cent should the policyholder stay in the plan for a second year.

Churning by brokers is on the increase, involving switching a client from one product provider to another every year. The broker picks up the maximum commission, and the requirements of the policy-holder take second place.

Forward-looking brokers are urging the FCA to investigate churning and high commissions, fearing a market collapse. Recent moves by insurers to set up their own brokerage networks are also causing concern.
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