Q I am starting a new job and one of the benefits is company paid health insurance for my family. I already have good health insurance coverage in place and am due to have knee surgery in the coming months which my current insurer has confirmed to be fully covered. If I join the group company plan, I will have to change plans with another insurer. Given my impending surgery, I’m afraid to switch insurers in case I’m not fully covered. How can I check this as I want 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 by joining the new plan through your employer group plan, your family should be covered immediately.
The fact that you have already confirmed full cover with your current insurer means that similar conditions should apply with the new insurer – assuming you switch to an equivalent plan.
However, you should take note of the upgrade rule. Under the upgrade rule, if the new plan provides you with increased coverage (compared to what you currently have), the new insurer is entitled to limit your benefits to the lower amount that would have been paid on your plan. precedent for all existing conditions.
If the upgrade rule is applicable, the additional coverage will not apply for an additional 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 of your current surgery (including procedure code, consultant name, the hospital you attend) and your insurer will confirm your exact coverage.
Assuming everything is in order, you can then join the company’s new group plan knowing that your next surgery will be fully covered.
Charges and updates on the old pension after changing jobs
Q I have worked for the same company for almost 20 years, but I will soon be changing jobs. I’ve been saving in the labor pension plan all this time. I decided to leave the pension where it is – as a deferred benefit – rather than transferring it to a personal retirement bond.
Will there still be costs associated with this pension even if I no longer contribute to it? Also, will I continue to automatically receive the annual performance update on this pension once I leave my job – or do I have to make my own arrangements to ensure I get regular updates?
Peter, County Cork
A Once you leave your job, you will become a deferred member of the pension plan. You will no longer be able to make contributions, so you should consider joining your new employer’s pension plan as soon as possible. You will continue to pay fees to the pension provider for your deferred benefits. These fees will likely remain the same or similar to what you currently pay as an active member. You should contact the pension provider for confirmation of the amount of the annual management fee once you leave the service and request details of any other fees that may apply, such as policy fees.
The occupational benefit provider will provide you with an annual statement of pension benefits from 1 January 2023. This will provide you with an update on the fund value, investment performance and a projected value of your pension fund on the date of retirement from the plan. Plus, even once you become a Deferred Member, you’ll still have access to the Pension Providers’ online platform where you can view fund value, investment performance, and take advantage of many other useful resources. If you have never used the online platform before or do not know your login details, contact the pension fund and request them before leaving the service.
As you have worked for 20 years, I expect that retirement will increasingly be at the forefront of your thoughts.
I encourage you to seek independent financial advice to review how your pension is invested and to ensure it matches how you plan to take your retirement benefits through an approved retirement fund (ARF – a post-retirement investment fund) or an annuity (annuity for life).
Additionally, an advisor can help you review the fees of your current plan and determine whether it would be more beneficial to transfer it to a buy-back obligation or to your new employer’s pension plan, depending on your personal circumstances.