Q I’m starting a new job and one of the perks is company-paid health insurance for my family. I already have good health insurance cover in place and I’m due to have knee surgery in the coming months which my current insurer has confirmed will be fully covered. If I join the company group scheme, I will have to move to a new plan with a different insurer. Given my pending surgery, I’m worried about changing to a different insurer in case I won’t be fully covered. How do I check this as I would like to join the new company plan if possible? Tom, Co Louth
A You get full credit for your previous health insurance membership, which means that upon joining the new plan through your employer group scheme, your family should be on cover immediately.
The fact that you have already confirmed full cover with your existing insurer means that similar terms should apply with the new insurer – assuming you’re switching to an equivalent plan.
You should however take note of the upgrade rule. Under the upgrade rule, if the new plan gives you increased cover (than what you currently have), then the new insurer is entitled to restrict your benefits to the lower amount that would have been paid on your previous plan for any existing conditions.
If the upgrade rule is applicable, then the additional cover will not apply for a further two years (for the existing medical condition).
The best way to check whether or not this applies to you is to contact your new insurer directly and give them full details regarding your pending surgery (including the procedure code, the consultant’s name, name of the hospital you’re attending) and your insurer will confirm your exact cover.
Assuming all is in order, you can then join the new company group scheme knowing that your upcoming surgery will be fully covered.
Charges and updates on old pension after job move
Q I’ve been with the same company for almost 20 years but will be moving job soon. I have been saving into the work pension scheme for all that time. I’ve decided to leave the pension where it is – as a deferred benefit – rather than to move it into a Personal Retirement Bond.
Will there still be charges coming out of that pension even though I will no longer be contributing to it? Also, will I continue to automatically get the annual update on the performance of that pension once I leave the job – or do I need to make my own arrangements to ensure I get regular updates?
Peter, Co Cork
A Once you leave employment, you will become a deferred member of the pension plan. You will no longer be able to make any contributions, so you should look to join your new employers’ pension plan as soon as possible. You will continue to pay charges to the pension provider for your deferred benefits. These charges will likely remain the same or similar to what you currently pay as an active member. You should contact the pension provider to seek confirmation of what the annual management charge will be once you leave service and request details of any other charges that may apply, such as policy fees.
The occupational pension plan provider will provide you with an annual pension benefit statement from January 1, 2023. This will provide you with an update on the fund value, the investment performance and a projected value for your retirement fund at the scheme retirement date. Additionally, even once you become a deferred member, you will still have access to the pension providers online platform where you can review the fund value, investment performance and avail of many other useful resources. If you have not used the online platform before or do not know your log in details, contact the pension provider and request these in advance of leaving service.
As you have worked for 20 years, I expect retirement is increasingly moving to the forefront of your thoughts.
I would encourage you get independent financial advice to review how your pension is invested and to ensure that it aligns with how you plan to take your pension benefits at retirement via an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF – a post-retirement investment fund) or annuity (pension for life).
Furthermore, an advisor can help you review the charges of your current plan and consider if there may be better value in moving it to a buyout bond, or to your new employers’ pension scheme, depending on your own personal circumstances.