What is a waiting period?

A waiting period is the amount of time you have to wait before you can start to claim on your health insurance. Waiting periods apply to both hospital and extras covers and you cannot claim for procedures/services that you receive during a waiting period.

Waiting periods apply when you join, upgrade your cover, reduce your excess or re-join after a break in cover. The period you may need to wait varies depending on the level of cover you’ve chosen, and in the case of Working Visa Covers, whether you were insured previously. Check your product fact sheet for full details about your selected cover.

If you have Private Health Insurance (for Australian citizens and permanent residents), you can find out about waiting periods here.

Working visa cover waiting periods

Benefits payable can vary depending on your level of cover, and some procedures may be excluded or restricted.

The following waiting periods apply to Australian Unity hospital covers. It is important to note that the benefits payable for these procedures can vary depending on your level of cover, and some procedures may be excluded or restricted. Check your product fact sheet for full details about your selected cover.

Level of Cover Waiting periods
Budget Workers Cover
2 months for psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care
12 months for pregnancy and related services
12 months for all pre-existing conditions except psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care
Mid Workers Cover & Workers Cover Plus
2 months for psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care
2 months for out-of-hospital pharmacy
12 months for pregnancy and related services
12 months for all pre-existing conditions except psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care

Non-working and working holiday visa cover waiting periods

Benefits payable can vary depending on your level of cover, and some procedures may be excluded or restricted.

Level of Cover Waiting periods
Basic Visitors Cover
24 hours for accident-related conditions
2 months for all hospital and medical treatments; this waiting period is waived when you purchase Australian Unity Overseas Visitors Cover before coming to Australia or within two weeks after you arrive
No cover for pre-existing conditions
Mid Visitors Cover
24 hours for accident-related conditions
2 months for all hospital and medical treatments; this waiting period is waived when you purchase Australian Unity Overseas Visitors Cover before coming to Australia or within two weeks after you arrive
24 months for all pre-existing conditions
Top Visitors Cover
24 hours for accident-related conditions
2 months for all hospital and medical treatments; this waiting period is waived when you purchase Australian Unity Overseas Visitors Cover before coming to Australia or within two weeks after you arrive
12 months for all pre-existing conditions

What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is any illness, ailment or condition where, in the opinion of a medical advisor appointed by Australian Unity, the signs or symptoms have existed at any time during the six months up to and including the day on which you became insured under the policy—regardless of whether you were aware of it.

Depending on your level of Overseas Visitors Cover, you may still be able to claim on pre-existing conditions after having served a waiting period.

Find out more about pre-existing conditions.

Why do waiting periods exist?

If waiting periods didn’t exist, people could take out health insurance or upgrade to comprehensive cover only when they knew or suspected that they might need cover for a procedure/service, and then immediately make a claim. If these new members then cancelled (or downgraded) their membership after making a claim, their costs would have to be paid for by the fund’s long-term members. Not only is this unfair to existing members, it could also lead a fund having to increase premiums.

Switching from another Australian health fund

If you were previously covered by an insurer outside of Australia, you will be considered as a new member and all applicable waiting periods will apply.

If you are transferring from another registered Australian private health insurance fund, you need to purchase health cover with us within 30 days of cancelling your old cover and provide a Transfer Certificate (sometimes also called a Clearance Certificate) from your previous insurer.

Depending on the cover you purchase with us, we will recognise the following:

  • Non-working and working holiday visa covers: the initial two-month waiting period will be waived.
  • Working visa covers and extras covers: Australian Unity will recognise the waiting periods you’ve already completed under an equivalent or higher level cover.
Waiting periods for extras

If you’re going to be in Australia for an extended period, you may consider purchasing extras cover to get money back for things like going to the dentist or physiotherapist or getting a new pair of glasses.

Check your product fact sheet for full details about the waiting periods that apply to your selected level of extras cover.

Upgrading your level of cover

Upgrading your cover means increasing your level of hospital or extras benefits or reducing your excess. You may have to serve new waiting periods for services you weren’t previously covered for or for services with increased benefits payable.

You will still be entitled to the benefits payable under your previous level of cover while you are serving the waiting period for the higher benefits.

Getting your permanent residency (PR)

As far as your health insurance is concerned, a resident is someone who is eligible for full Medicare entitlements.

Once you get your permanent residency, you can switch from your Australian Unity Overseas Visitors Cover to a resident’s Private Health Insurance cover. As long as you cancel your old cover on the same day as you start your new cover, we will recognise all waiting periods you have already completed and apply those to your new cover.

If your Overseas Visitors Cover is with another health fund and you are switching to Australian Unity Private Health Insurance, you will be considered as a new member and all applicable waiting periods will apply.

Find out more

To find out more about waiting periods, call us on 13 29 39 or visit the Private Health government website.