Insurance

Moving home or abroad: A guide to getting insurance in Ireland

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Here we explore what you need to know about home, health, and life insurance if you’re moving home to Ireland or abroad.

Whether you’re moving away or returning to Ireland, there will be a lot of preparation in order to get your ducks in a row. One aspect that can’t be ignored is your insurance policies.

If you’re unsure about what to do when it comes to your insurance, or whether your policy changes if you move away, this is the guide for you. Here we look at what options you have when it comes to home insurance, life insurance, and health insurance.

Home insurance

If you own a house in Ireland and are moving abroad we’d recommend continuing to pay home insurance on the property, whether you’re renting it out or leaving it vacant. This will ensure that your property and valuables are protected against theft, fire, or damage.

Consider getting unoccupied home insurance

Standard home insurance does not provide cover when the house is unoccupied for long periods. 

Unoccupied home insurance is a special type of cover offered by some insurers in Ireland that would be a suitable option for those moving abroad.

Before taking out this type of cover, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The condition of the property: ​​If your property is vacant, you have the responsibility of maintaining it and keeping it in a good state of repair. You must take the necessary steps to prevent damage, loss, or potential accidents. 
  • Special measures: Some insurers will require you to implement specific measures while your home is unoccupied, such as draining the water system and leaving the heating on to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Security: It’s no surprise that a vacant property is more likely to be targeted by thieves. Installing security systems such as alarms, CCTV cameras, deadbolts, and motion detectors can help you lower your insurance premium.
  • Exclusions: There may be exclusions to your policy, such as vandalism. 
  • Insuring contents: Insuring your personal belongings will prove more costly as the property is empty. 

        We’d recommend asking someone, such as a relative or friend, to regularly check in at the property to ensure that the property is safe.

        Health insurance

        If you’re moving back to Ireland after living abroad and are looking to take out a private health insurance policy, there are some important points that you should be aware of.

        Waiting periods

        Usually, when taking out private health insurance upon returning home you will have to serve a waiting period of up to 26 weeks.

        Some insurers waive waiting periods on a case-by-case basis for those who have held cover, but it remains at the insurer's discretion.

        Here’s a look at the maximum waiting periods you can expect as an expat when taking out private health insurance cover in Ireland.

                                                                                                   Maximum waiting periods

        Accident and injuries

        Illnesses that begin after you’re insured

        Pre-existing illnesses in the previous 6 months

        Maternity-related claims

        None 

        26 weeks

        5 years

        26 weeks

        Once these waiting periods have finished, customers won’t be subject to them again when they switch insurers unless there is a break in cover for more than 13 weeks.

        Age-based premium loading

        For Irish residents aged 34 or older who are buying health insurance in Ireland for the first time, an aged-based loading called the Lifetime Community Rating usually applies.

        However, things are a little different if you’re repatriating to Ireland. Here’s how:

        • If you are 34 or older when you move back to Ireland you must purchase private health insurance within nine months to avoid a Lifetime Community Rating Loading.
        • For those who lived in Ireland on May 1st 2015 and moved elsewhere, a credited period is given for any time spent living abroad, as long as it’s for six months or more. This is also provided you take out insurance within nine months of returning.
        • If you fail to satisfy the above conditions a loading of 2% of the gross premium will be applied to your premium, and for every year over the age of 34. It will be applied to your premium for 10 years.

        What proof will I need?

        When applying for a health insurance policy an insurance company will look for proof that you were not resident in Ireland and moved home in the last nine months.

        This can be done by providing any of the following, for example:

        • Accommodation lease arrangements 
        • Utility bills
        • Bank statements from a foreign account 
        • Travel documentation 
        • Proof of application for a PPS number (non-Irish citizens)

        ​​Can I use my foreign health insurance when I return to Ireland?

        Insurers in Ireland are under no obligation to recognise cover held while previously living abroad, or in Ireland for that matter.

        Whether waiting periods are waived is at each insurance company's discretion. This is because Irish law outlines a maximum on waiting periods, but no minimum.

        Some insurers choose to waive waiting periods if you have previously held health insurance in Ireland, or if you were covered by certain types of health insurance while abroad, but not always.

        Consider getting international health insurance

        If you know you’ll be moving or are planning an extended vacation away from Ireland for more than six months, consider taking out an international health insurance plan.

        This will ensure all your medical insurance needs are covered while you’re out of Ireland.

        Certain insurers offer different types of international health insurance cover, with VHI being one of the most well-known.

        Life insurance

        When it comes to life insurance, thankfully things aren’t as complicated as you’d expect!

        If you already have a policy in place

        If you have an existing life or serious illness policy in place, usually this will stay valid while you’re abroad. 

        We’d advise double checking with your insurer about this, but typically there is no issue keeping up your policy while you’re living away.

        Taking out a policy upon your return

        In general, you shouldn’t run into any issues taking out a life insurance policy upon your return. 

        An exception to this is if you lived in a country that’s considered high-risk for more than a month, e.g. South Africa. 

        If this is the case, you may be required to undergo a health examination to test for certain ailments or infections, e.g. HIV.

        Depending on the outcome of these tests, a loading fee may apply to your policy premium. This is an additional amount added to the premium if you’re deemed to be a higher risk to insure. How much extra you’re charged will vary on a case-by-case basis.

        Mortgage protection insurance

        If you’re planning on purchasing a property in Ireland while abroad to live in upon your return and are hoping to take out a mortgage, you may struggle to find an insurer willing to offer you mortgage protection cover as you are based outside the country. 

        New Ireland will provide cover for those purchasing a property in Ireland while abroad, however, you must physically be in the country to sign papers in the presence of a solicitor.

        You can learn all about how to apply for a mortgage in Ireland if you’re returning from abroad in our guide here.

        Get the best value insurance on bonkers.ie

        If you’ve recently moved home and are looking for the right insurance cover, bonkers.ie has your back.

        Here at bonkers.ie we have comprehensive comparison tools for life insurance, serious illness cover, mortgage protection, home insurance, and car insurance.

        And if you’re on the lookout for health insurance, our consultation service will provide you with the policy that best suits your needs.

        Don’t forget to check out our energy, broadband, and banking comparison services as well if you’re hoping to save money on other bills when you return home. 

        If you're wondering what to do about these bills when emigrating, check out our guide on banking and utilities for Irish expats.

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