Private medical insurance jargonbuster

The following definitions have been set by the Association of British Insurers.

Acute condition

A disease, illness or injury that is likely to respond quickly to treatment which aims to return you to the state of health you were in immediately before suffering the disease, illness or injury, or which leads to your full recovery.


A malignant tumour, tissues or cells, characterised by the uncontrolled growth and spread of malignant cells and invasion of tissue.

Chronic condition

A disease, illness, or injury that has one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. it needs ongoing or long-term monitoring through consultations, examinations, check-ups, and / or tests
  2. it needs ongoing or long-term control or relief of symptoms
  3. it requires your rehabilitation or for you to be specially trained to cope with it
  4. it continues indefinitely
  5. it has no known cure
  6. it comes back or is likely to come back

Day patient

A patient who is admitted to a hospital or day patient unit because they need a period of medically supervised recovery but does not occupy a bed overnight.

Diagnostic tests

Investigations, such as X-rays or blood tests, to find or to help to find the cause of your symptoms.


A patient who is admitted to hospital and who occupies a bed overnight or longer, for medical reasons.


A qualified nurse who is on the register of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and holds a valid NMC personal identification number.

Out patient

A patient who attends a hospital, consulting room, or outpatient clinic and is not admitted as a day patient or an inpatient.

Pre-existing condition

Any disease, illness or injury for which:

  1. you have received medication, advice or treatment; or
  2. you have experienced symptoms;

whether the condition has been diagnosed or not in the xxx years before the start of your cover. (the same period is not common to all insurers)'


Surgical or medical services (including diagnostic tests) that are needed to diagnose, relieve or cure a disease, illness or injury.

It is recognised that some firms use the term 'active treatment'. This has the potential to confuse customers given the current agreed definition of treatment. If firms do use the term it must be accompanied by a specific definition.