When is a child in your family not a dependant? That is the question that many will be asking as they wave their 18, 19- and 20-year olds off to University this September – are they still a dependant if in full-time education?

It is a routine question asked by countless insurance policy applications, what is the number of household dependants?

But it’s not an easy question to answer and is even more important to get right with Private Medical Insurance (PMI) as this is cover your children or dependants may need to access away from you and home. How many of us can say we know what the term ‘dependant’ truly means and that we are making the most of the cover provided to us with respect to our younger children, but also to our grown-up ones too?

The outbreak of Coronavirus and efforts to slow the pandemic is likely to have an ongoing effect on the way we live our lives and the medical treatment available to us for some time. Young people nationwide are meanwhile preparing to take their first steps towards university life, to attend college for the first time, or make their first foray into the working world this year under somewhat unusual circumstances.

There has never been a better time for families with PMI in place to double-check the terms of their policy when it comes to the age and circumstances of all those covered, therefore. Anyone looking to take out PMI for the first time might also consider the benefits available to those living under their roof but studying or working elsewhere some of the time too.

How is ‘dependant’ defined?

Most people taking out private healthcare cover will be offered the choice to include their spouse, partner, and any children within a household on their policy, either as an inclusive package or with various family members as ‘add ons’.

What many people don’t realise, or often neglect to remember, is that cover for ‘children’ included in these policies can remain effective well into adulthood too. This is because they are defined by insurers as ‘dependants’ – that is, individuals who are financially or otherwise dependant on the adult policyholder taking the cover out.

How exactly dependants are defined varies from one provider to another but is often based on a combination of how old the dependant is and whether or not they remain in education past the age where they would also be eligible to enter the workplace full time.

When does a child stop being a dependant?

There are various reasons why adult children might no longer be eligible for cover under family healthcare cover, all of which will be stipulated by the individual provider and policy concerned.

Both Aviva and AXA have no upper age limit for dependants, for example. Aviva offer child rates where a premium is paid for the eldest child aged under 20 and all other children aged under 20 are covered free.  AXA define a dependant as being unmarried, living at home or for as long as they are in full-time education (including higher education).

BUPA provides for children up to and including aged 20 who are living at home at time of joining, and for those aged up to and including 23 and in full-time education at the time of joining. There is no upper age limit once joined, so long as they are unmarried and living at home. Similar guidelines also apply at The Exeter for those aged up to 21 living at home or aged up to 25 in full-time education.

Freedom will cover dependants aged up to 25 at renewal, while at G&M a child is considered dependent up to their 21st birthday or 26th birthday whilst still in full-time education, the first child being chargeable and all remaining children free subject to the aforementioned criteria.

WPA meanwhile provides for anyone under the age of 18 living at their main address at the cost of a child, with dependants of any age eligible to remain on the family plan providing they reside at the main address.

To make sure you’re getting the full benefit of healthcare cover on offer to you and your family, or if you’re thinking about putting PMI in place for the first time, call our freephone Health Insurance number 0800 862 0373 and we’ll go through all the options with you.

Compare Health Insurance Quotes