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Switching Health Insurance – What You Need To Know

We answer the biggest questions you have about switching

A person throwing their child playfully into the ocean. Text reads "ready to make the switch?"
A person throwing their child playfully into the ocean. Text reads "ready to make the switch?"

When it comes to your health insurance, things with your current fund might not be working out the way you thought they would.

At nib, we consider ourselves your health partner – and whether it’s helping you stay at your healthiest or helping you navigate the health system when you do need to visit hospital, we’ve got your back.

So when you’re ready to make the switch to nib, before you call your current health fund to say ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, read up on some of the biggest questions you might have when it comes to transferring your health insurance.

Related: A guide to saving money on your health insurance cover

Can I switch health funds anytime?

Yes, you have the flexibility to switch your health insurance provider at any time. If you've paid any premiums in advance, your previous health fund is normally required to refund the remaining amount for the year's cover when you switch to a new health fund.

When is the best time to switch health insurance?

In some cases it can be beneficial switch your health insurance before the annual premium increase, which generally happens on 1 April each year. This is due to the fact that many health insurance providers allow you to pre-pay your premiums for the year.

One of the key benefits of pre-paying your premium for the year is being able to lock in your current premiums before the 1 April increase. The potential savings will depend on the rate at which your new provider is increasing its premiums.

Remember, the goal of switching health insurance should always be to secure the best health insurance for your lifestyle.

How do I switch health insurance?

Transferring to a new health insurance provider is typically straightforward, and at nib we'll handle most of the work for you!

Once you've selected your new health fund, you'll need to provide them with the details of your previous health insurer. Your new health fund will contact your old health insurance provider to request the cancellation of your previous membership and a transfer certificate.

If you have direct debits set up with your old insurer, ensure to cancel these once your new health cover is in place.

I want to switch to nib, how do I do it?

Private health insurance should be easy, right? So we’ve made choosing the right cover and getting a quote as simple as possible. You can get a quote online in minutes and, once you’re ready to sign up, you can sit back knowing that we’ll contact your previous fund on your behalf.

What is a transfer certificate?

Under the Private Health Insurance Act, when you switch to nib your previous fund is required to send us a transfer certificate within 14 days. The transfer certificate outlines details of your previous cover, including any waiting periods you’ve served, the type of cover you had and your claims history. You can start claiming on services that you’re eligible for as soon as we receive this certificate.

If I transfer to nib from another fund, do I have to re-serve waiting periods?

If you’re transferring to a policy that has an equivalent or lower level of benefits, you won’t have to re-serve any waiting periods on the services covered with your previous fund. We’ll also recognise partially served waiting periods – so even if you’ve only served three months of a 12-month waiting period, we’ll make sure that the three months still count when you transfer to us.

For more information, check out our article What’s a waiting period and why do we have them?

What happens to my annual limits if I transfer?

The benefits you have claimed with your previous fund this year will be deducted from your new nib policy. We work by calendar year at nib, so if you’ve got an annual limit of $1,000 for major dental treatment and you’ve already claimed $400 this calendar year, you’ll still have $600 remaining.

Two women sitting on the couch on their phones

How does my excess work?

Already made a hospital claim this calendar year with your previous fund? Don’t worry; if you’ve switched to a policy that has the same level of excess (or a lower excess) and you’re readmitted to hospital this year, you won’t have to pay your excess again with nib.

If you’ve transferred to a policy with a lower level of excess, your new excess amount will kick in two months following your transfer to nib.

The exception to this is if you’re admitted to hospital for a pre-existing condition within your first 12 months with nib after switching, then your previous higher excess will be applicable.

At nib, we offer our members a range of options when it comes to their excess. As an nib member, you can choose between a $500 and $750 excess for singles, and $1,000 and $1,500 for couples or families. This means you have the ability to opt for a higher level of excess in return for a lower premium.

To find out more about nib’s excess options, head to our article Excess changes: How to reduce the cost of your premium.

If I transfer, will it affect my Lifetime Health Cover (LHC)?

If you’re transferring your Hospital Cover to nib you can rest assured that your Lifetime Health Cover loading won’t be affected so long as you haven’t taken a break that will exceed your ‘absent days’ between transferring health covers.

If you’ve got LHC loading, we will recognise the years you’ve had private Hospital cover for. This means we will know when you have hit the magic 10-year mark to remove your loading and reduce your premiums.

I’ve paid my cover in advance with my old fund, will I lose this?

If you’ve paid your private health premiums in advance and decide to transfer your policy to nib, your old health fund should refund you the excess money you’ve paid.

What should I do about my direct debit payments with my other fund?

The best thing to do is to cancel any direct debit arrangements you have previously made with your financial institution and then leave the rest to us! nib will contact your previous health fund to advise them that you have decided to switch and to request your transfer certificate.

If you set up automatic direct debit payments from your bank, building society or credit union cheque or savings account, you might be eligible for a discount of up to 4% on your nib premium1.

Keen to learn about more ways you can save? Check out our article: A guide to saving money on your health insurance.

How can I claim with nib?

We believe that claiming your benefits with nib should be simple. When you need to make a claim, you can submit it using the nib app via member account.

Related: How to claim on the nib app

I've switched to nib, when does my new cover start?

When you switch to nib, your cover and waiting periods start from the date you nominate. If you've already served your waiting periods you can begin to claim for services received from the date your cover started as long as we have received your transfer certificate from your previous health fund.

I want to stay with nib but need to change my cover

That's great to hear! The first step is choosing the right level of cover to suit your needs. Once you've found the right cover, your can change your policy online in your member account, via the nib App or contact us and we'll talk you through the process.

Are you serious about your health? At nib, we can tailor your cover to include the things that are important to you and it only takes a few minutes to get a quote.

1Discount not available on Ambulance Only cover.