As students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland collect their A level results this week, many will be making plans for university and preparing to leave anxious parents behind as they embark on a new life and, in some cases, make a new home hundreds of miles away too.
For the majority of parents with Private Medical Insurance (PMI) in place, that worry could be slightly alleviated by knowing that their child is still eligible to claim for private medical treatment and is still classed as a dependant whilst they are at university regardless. Of course many Universities are running virtual terms, certainly for the remainder of 2020, but for those making the move to a new town or city, and fending for themselves, it is a big challenge.
As with all personal finance questions, the answer to when a child is still a dependant isn’t as easily answered, however, and varies between insurance providers.
Protection insurance comparison site ActiveQuote has delved into the policy documents of its PMI partners to find out what’s what when it comes to university age dependants and the cover provided for, therefore, on behalf of anxious parents nationwide.
Rod Jones, Head of Partnerships at ActiveQuote, said: “It’s a big step for any child heading off to university for the first time, but it’s also a big upheaval for parents too. Leaving your children to fend for themselves for the first time is bound to lead to some sleepless nights and, with that in mind, we decided to take a closer look at how our PMI partners categorise older teenagers on their family policies.
“When taking out a private healthcare policy, most people will be offered the choice to include their spouse, partner and any children within a household on their policy, either as an inclusive package or with various family members as ‘add ons’.
“What many people don’t realise, or often neglect to remember, is that cover for ‘children’ included in these policies can remain effective well into adulthood, however,” Rod added.
“This is because they are defined by insurers as ‘dependants’ – that is, people who are financially or otherwise dependant on the adult policy holder taking the cover out.”
ActiveQuote found various reasons why adult children might no longer be eligible for cover under family healthcare cover, all of which are stipulated by the individual provider and policy concerned. Some of these depend on where they live, how old they are, as well as the policy itself.
Both Aviva and AXA have no upper age limit for dependants, for example, with Aviva stipulating a premium for the eldest child be paid while others go free, and AXA defining a dependant as being unmarried or living at home.
BUPA provides for children up to and including aged 20 who are living at home at the time of joining, and for those aged up to and including 23 and in full-time education at the time of joining. There is no upper age limit once joined, so long as they are unmarried and living at home. Similar guidelines also apply at The Exeter for those aged up to 21 living at home or aged up to 25 in full-time education.
Freedom will cover dependants aged up to 25 at renewal, while at G&M a child is considered dependent up to their 21st birthday or 26th birthday whilst still in full-time education, the first child being chargeable and all remaining children free subject to the aforementioned criteria.
WPA meanwhile provides for anyone under the age of 18 living at their main address at the cost of a child, with dependants of any age eligible to remain on the family plan providing they reside at the main address.
Rod added: “What we found was that each insurer has a different way of looking at older children and how they define the word dependant.
“What is clear is that anyone who currently has Private Medical Insurance in place should read their policy documents closely to find out if their child is covered, and those who are looking to purchase PMI insurance should consider any children who might in the future be heading into Higher Education to ensure they get a policy that will protect the whole family, no matter where they live or what they’re doing at the time.”
ActiveQuote is the UK’s leading comparison website and broker of health and protection insurance products, including private medical insurance, income protection, life insurance and critical illness cover.