On 7 December, the Central Bank issued a press release encouraging consumers, once they receive their renewal letters, to consider their options as regards health insurance.

During the months of December, January and February 45 per cent of health insurance policies will come up for renewal. 85 per cent of consumers will renew the same policy with the same provider. This is largely due to the fact that many policies automatically renew if consumers don't contact their insurer before the renewal date and only 25 per cent of consumers tend to do this. The Central Bank encouraged consumers to make sure they have the most suitable insurance cover for their situation by getting in touch with their insurance providers. Consumers are also entitled to request their insurance provider to review their current health insurance cover to ensure they are on the most suitable plan available.

Earlier this year the Central Bank carried out a themed inspection, supported by consumer research, and discovered that health insurance providers were not alerting customers to important information in their renewal notices. Health insurance providers are now required by the Central Bank to clearly explain the `auto-renewal' process to consumers in the renewal notices, to encourage consumers to contact their insurance provider prior to renewal and to include all of their health insurance plans on their websites.

The Central Bank also found that, especially when customers are buying cover on-line, insurance providers should be particularly careful to ensure they are offering the most suitable policy.

A link to the press release is here.