Private health insurance is a way to get choice, flexibility and quick treatment form clinically appropriate services. You are in control and can receive the standard of treatment and peace of mind you require.

The choices you get are:

• The time you will be treated - it is usually quickly and at a time convenient for you.
• The place you will be treated – with en-suite rooms in a private hospital
• The doctors who treat you – you can choose your specialists and consultants
• The treatments and drugs - that may not be available on the National Health Service (NHS)

A policy can cover:

• Tests including MRI, PET and CT scans
• Prompt treatment for surgery
• Aftercare in a private hospital or as a private patient in an NHS hospital

Individual medical protection does not generally cover:

• GP services
• Management of long-term conditions
• Accidents and emergencies

Your treatment under PMI usually begins after you have visited a GP and they recommend you for further testing or make a diagnosis. You call your health insurer who will check that you are eligible and approve your claim. Your insurer will ensure you get quick attention from specialist doctors, nurses and consultants. This treatment could be in a private hospital or clinic, or it could be the same treatment you would receive from the NHS, only quicker.

When applying for private medical insurance, you are required to answer questions as accurately as you can. You may need to disclose medical information. If you give inaccurate or misleading information, your insurance company may refuse to pay your claim and may cancel your policy.

You should read the details of your coverage carefully before you commit, so you will know exactly which treatments are covered and what is not covered.

Medical insurance can cover individuals, families and employees. There are plans that cover dental care, back care, personal accidents, diagnosis and more. Diagnosis coverage may include:

• Diagnostic tests
• Specialists’ fees
• Private ambulance
• Parent accompanying a child
• Quick access to physiotherapy service

Treatments may include:

• Hospital charges
• Specialists’ fees
• Chiropractic, osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy, podiatry
• Dental surgery
• Psychiatric treatment
• Pregnancy complications
• Home nursing

There are some exclusions that may apply to most health policies. They include:

• Pre-existing medical conditions that were not disclosed or accepted by the insurance company for benefit
• AIDS and HIV
• Substance abuse and addictions
• Cosmetic treatment
• Dental treatment unless specifically stated
• Dialysis
• Behavioural or developmental problems
• Experimental treatments
• Dangerous sports injuries
• Weight loss treatment
• Self-inflicted treatment
• Treatment for chronic conditions that cannot be cured, but the symptoms may be relieved

Chronic conditions usually need long-term monitoring through regular examinations. You may require rehabilitation to learn to cope with the illness, which has no known cure and continues indefinitely. If it subsides for a while, it usually returns. These types of illnesses are not usually covered, but if they develop after the insurance has begun and are not from a pre-existing condition, in most cases, they will be covered.

Some insurance companies offer cancer coverage, pregnancy complications, oral surgery and parent accommodation. You can create a policy that suits your needs and budget. Extra coverage may include:

• Worldwide travel coverage
• Out-patient coverage
• Private GP helpline

PMI gives you choices about how you will be treated for the medical conditions that are covered in the policy. It also lets you get quick attention and not wait for days, weeks or months to get needed treatment.

A private medical insurance comparison website is your best option to get the exact coverage you need at a price you can afford to pay, by comparing quotes from a range of companies and brokers rather than opting for the company with the best advert on TV.