I recently wanted to purchase a new private health insurance policy for me and the family having left a job and lost the company provided scheme. Being internet savvy and being 2008, i fully expected to be able to go online and get a price and feature comparison of some leading insurers products and to be able to select and buy my policy instantly online. For the benefit of readers, this is often also referred to as private medical insurance or PMI.
I visited various sites that appeared in Google for the search health insurance. My expectations were met when i found a range of sites offering instant quotes. However i was flabbergasted with the number of sites that scammed me and took my fully personal details before announcing that "an agent will call me straight away to discuss my requirement" (or equivalent message). In some cases the sites just simply passed my details (without my permission) directly to one insurance company without any assessment of my needs or requirements. I will name and shame some of these companies, so that you can avoid them.
MediCube - Health insurance for less
In the worst case, a company called MediCube, claimed "MediCube compares over 35 leading insurers including..." and provides an "instant quote within seconds". They took all my details including date of birth, sex, name, address, phone numbers, postcode, email address. Enough information to commit identity theft and impersonate me. I suppose i should have guessed from the final question "when's the best time to call". The next screen after that, unbelievably, tells you:
Thank you! Our insurance partner Health-On-Line have received your details and are already preparing your quote.
I was so angry at being misled in this way, that i called up the company to complain and gave a pretty major tyrade to the poor receptionist. I told her that i would be calling Health-on-line to tell them that under no circumstances would i buy their policy as i had been misled. A bit later i was called back by the Managing Director of MediCube who very eloquently explained that he had reviewed the systems and that they had discovered a glitch today and that this would never happen again. He was so convincing that i believed him. As it turned out, i did buy a policy from Health-on-line but via another broker who did need to call me but at least admitted this fact on their website - if only on the third page.
I went back today, several months later, to see if this company is still doing the same. I couldn't believe it, i asked for a quote and exactly the same thing happened. This company unscrupulously misleads you into providing your personal details and then discloses that information without your permission. This is an infringement of data protection, is mis-selling and is, in my opinion, illegal.
Right To Health - Independent health insurance specialists
In another example, a firm called Right to Health say "Get a Free Online Quote" and back it up with "competitive and affordable health insurance quotation comparing all leading providers". Am i going mad or does this not imply that i should expect the quote to be received online. Again i provided my personal identity information including name, email, date of birth, address, post code and phone number, click the "Get a quote" button and hey presto :
Thank you One of our advisors will be in contact shortly.
Best Deal Insurance
These guys say on their homepage "fill in your details once and get an instant online quote from over 20 insurance companies in less than 30 seconds". Now i will admit that this is under the heading of "life insurance" but it definitely misleads you in to believing that this applies to health insurance because when you take the link to health insurance you get to a form which has 3 visible steps: Step 1 requires Name, Date of birth, family details, phone numbers, email, address etc. At the top you can see that step 2 is called "Quotes". So of course you fully expect to receive quotes after completing the form. Instead, when you click the link you get "Thank you for submitting your details, one of our advisors will contact
you within the next 24 hours to discuss your requirements with you ..."
And of the big names in Price Comparison: MoneySupermarket hit me with 3 lots of pop-up adverts and sponsor links before taking some rudimentary details and offering me a choice of 82 policies. In this case, the leaders in online financial services price comparison are committing a different crime. They are pretending to assess your needs and present matching policies when in fact they are assessing nothing and just giving you a bewildering and meaningless list of policies with some insurers appearing over 20 times in the list. In end the purpose of this is clear. Its to drive you to click any one of the linsk
I do not wish to be bullied by these companies so i have written this article using a nom-de-plume for the time being. However if you wish to contact me or comment on the article, just add a comment using the link below. Also i have not included links to the perpetrator's websites because we don't want to indirectly help them - do we ?
For reference, here are some of the insurance companies that provide good health insurance schemes: Allianz, AXA PPP Healthcare, BCWA Healthcare, BHSF, BUPA, Capital Healthcare, Cigna, Exeter Friendly Society, Freedom Healthnet, General & Medical, Groupama Healthcare, Health-on-Line, Norwich Union Healthcare, Patient Choice, Permanent Health Company PHC, Prudential - PruHealth, Secure Health, Standard Life HealthCare, Universal Provident Limited, Western Provident Association - WPA