What is moratorium underwriting?

If you are buying a private medical insurance policy your quotations may feature moratorium underwriting. Now as this is not a common term, what does it actually mean?

For consumers in the UK, underwriting for health insurance is usually either Full Medical Underwriting or Moratorium.

The choice you make between the two options should ultimately depend on your own medical history.

What is the definition of moratorium underwriting?

You are not asked to give details of your medical history when setting up the policy. Instead the insurer does not cover treatment for any medical condition that you have received treatment for, taken medication for, asked advice on or had symptoms of for a specific time period (often 5 years). These conditions may become eligible for cover in the future. This would only happen when you do not have symptoms of, receive treatment for, medication, tests and advice (from your GP, a healthcare professional or a specialist) for that condition, or a related condition for a continuous period of two years after your policy has started. If you make a claim, the insurer might ask for medical notes that are needed to decide if your claim is covered.

Each insurer will have their own definition of the moratorium that they apply. We would recommend that you check the policy wording to be clear about the terms of the moratorium offered.

There is a short video produced by Aviva explaining the difference between full medical underwriting and moratorium underwriting:


Will moratorium underwriting save you money?


If you already have a private medical insurance policy you may be offered moratorium underwriting to save money.

No-one wants to pay more for a policy than they have to.  We would however urge people to consider the consequences of changing their underwriting.

You may have been insured for a number of years and have no exclusions on your policy.  Depending on your own personal medical history, new underwriting could result in exclusions in cover for pre-existing conditions. This applies for both moratorium or full medical underwriting options.

If you are fit and healthy without medical history to consider, this could be a great way to save money.  You could save money on this basis without reducing your cover and benefit levels.

Essentially there is no such thing as a one size fits all. New underwriting will depend completely on your own specific circumstances.

If you have health insurance in place and are looking for ways to save money, speaking to a specialist broker would be advisable. There may be different ways to reduce the cost of your cover without affecting your cover for pre-existing conditions.

Will you have cover for pre-existing conditions on moratorium underwriting?

There are some conditions, for example chronic conditions, that will probably never be covered. This is because you would always need treatment, medication, tests or advice for them. Think about conditions such as diabetes and asthma as good examples.

However, if you had a medical condition 20 years ago (regardless of its severity) providing you have been signed off from your consultant and been symptom, treatment, advice and medication free for the timescales specified prior to the start of your policy then this would not be excluded. Moratorium underwriting can really offer flexibility for the policy holder.

If you have moratorium underwriting there would be no “specific” exclusion shown on your certificate for pre-existing conditions. Exclusions would apply however for medical conditions that fall within the moratorium term.

Do you have to complete a medical history declaration?

Many people opt for moratorium underwriting because they do not have to fill in a complicated form at the start. Your claim will be underwritten at the time you make it and no medical history is required at inception.

On this basis the application process is a quick and simple one.

You will have to apply for the policy whether online or via a paper/ emailed form. This is not a difficult process.  You will provide the insurer with your contact details, complete a direct debit mandate (where applicable) and providing the details of your GP surgery. You will need to sign (electronic or wet signature) to confirm that you understand the terms of the moratorium and that you wish to proceed with your purchase.

What impact does moratorium underwriting have when you make claim?

It is important to remember that your insurer has no knowledge of your medical history and therefore may ask you for more information when your claim is registered.

They can also request a report from your GP to ensure that your medical condition does not fall within the moratorium terms. It is worth noting that if your GP charges you for the medical report it is unlikely you will be able to claim this money back from your private medical insurance policy. You would need to check your benefit cover levels to be sure.

If there is a long delay in your GP providing the required information to the insurer, the pre-authorisation of your claim may be delayed. GP surgeries are normally aware that this is the case and in general, medical reports are provided promptly.

The cost of your GP report may vary and it would be advisable for you to find out the cost so you know how much you will need to pay.

Is Moratorium underwriting available for company policies?

Absolutely! If you are looking to buy a company private medical insurance policy for your staff, moratorium underwriting is available. For all small businesses, you would have the choice between full medical underwriting and moratorium.

Medical History Disregarded underwriting (MHD) is also available for larger company schemes.

Can you “switch” provider at renewal if you have moratorium underwriting?

Each insurer has their own switch criteria and recent/ pending claims could affect the premium quoted.

Changing your private medical insurance provider at renewal will depend on the following:

  • your recent claims history
  • whether you have any treatment planned or pending.

If you have moratorium underwriting and want to change provider on a switch basis this would be known as continued moratorium. Your new insurer will agree to accept the switch, keeping the original moratorium start date in place.

Example: If you originally started your policy on the 1st August 2012 on a new moratorium and then switched provider on the 1st August 2020 on continued moratorium the moratorium start date would be the date that the original policy was taken out. The moratorium start date in this case would remain as the 1st August 2012.

A reminder of underwriting that is available for private medical insurance in the UK:

  • Full medical underwriting (FMU)
  • Moratorium underwriting (MORI)
  • Continued personal medical exclusions (CPME) when switching provider with FMU underwriting
  • Continued moratorium (CMORI) when switching provider with MORI underwriting
  • Medical History Disregarded (MHD) available for larger company schemes

As a specialist private medical insurance broker we have many clients on different types of underwriting and moratorium underwriting is a popular option.

By working with closely with clients and liaising with the underwriting teams of the insurers we are able to establish the best form of underwriting for our clients whether as an individual, family, SME or corporate scheme.

If you would like to know how we could help you with your private medical insurance in 2020 then please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team have many years of experience in the health insurance sector and can help you find a great solution both now and for the future.

Contact telephone: 01245 929129/ 0800 047 0127

Contact email: enquiries@smphealthcare.com