What's the deal with waiting periods?

Once you get health insurance for everyday policies like dental and GP, you generally can't make a claim right away - you must have your policy in place for a certain amount of time first. This is what's known as the 'waiting period', and once it's passed you can begin making claims.

So why are waiting periods in place, and what do they mean for you?

Why are waiting periods necessary?

Waiting periods help keep health insurance fair. Without them, premiums for everyone could be much higher! Waiting periods prevent people taking out insurance or upgrading their policy once they already know they need treatment, and want to save money or bypass public health sector.

How long are waiting periods?

Waiting periods vary depending on your insurance provider, the level of cover and the type of claim involved. For example, under a health policy that covers day-to-day health expenses like AA Health Everyday cover you'll normally need to wait:

  • 2 months for physiotherapy, dental treatment and GP consultations
  • 6 months for optical appliances

For a private health policy like AA Health Private Hospital, you'll normally need to wait:

  • 12 months for wisdom tooth extraction
  • 3 years before some pre-exsting conditions are covered. Some pre-existing conditions will never be covered. Please check the policy wordings for full details.

What happens if I upgrade my existing cover?

When you upgrade an existing policy, you'll need to go through an additional waiting period for the benefits you're adding on. For example, if you already have cover for Private Hospital but want to add more benefits to your policy like day-to-day cover, you will need to serve the waiting period for the specified benefit under the day-to-day cover.

What about pre-existing conditions?

In summary, pre-existing conditions are illnesses or injuries that you already have, or have symptoms of before you take out health insurance. Some pre-existing conditions will generally be excluded from cover altogether, but others can sometimes be claimed on after a waiting period. The length of the waiting period will depend on your condition and your insurer. With AA Health, many pre-existing conditions can be covered after three years.

If you have further questions about waiting periods, get in touch with your health insurer - or to find out more about AA Health, visit aahealth.co.nz or phone us on 0800 758 758.


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