The Exeter life insurance review

8 min Read Published: 09 Feb 2024

The Exeter review In an industry full of insurance companies that offer life insurance, The Exeter may not be one that you immediately recognise, but it offers a unique specialism in offering life insurance to people with pre-existing medical conditions who may have been declined by other life insurance companies.

In this article, we will review the 'Real Life' life insurance product available with The Exeter and explain the benefits that policyholders can enjoy through the HealthWise app it offers. The Exeter is not available to buy directly so you will need to contact a life insurance specialist with the added advantage that they will search the whole market on your behalf ensuring that The Exeter is the best life insurance choice for your health history - receive up to £100 cashback* when you buy this way.

Who is The Exeter

The Exeter is a trading name of Exeter Friendly Society Limited, which is based in Exeter and provides a suite of financial products that include life insurance, health insurance and income protection insurance.

The Exeter is a mutual company which means that it has no shareholders and anyone who buys a policy automatically becomes a member. The Exeter highlights its ability to put its members ahead of profits as it does not pay dividends to shareholders as some big insurers do, which they believe makes them more able to keep the cost of life insurance low, pay claims quickly and provide high-quality, personal customer service.

The Exeter is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority; regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and incorporated under the Friendly Societies Act 1992 Register.

The Exeter has won several industry awards including Best Customer Service Provider at the 2023 Right Mortgage Awards; Best Insurer for Protecting Hard to Cover Clients at the Protection Guru Awards; Best Income Protection Provider 2022 at the LifeSearch Awards; Best Income Protection Insurance 2021 at the Personal Finance Awards; Best Individual Life Insurance & Private Medical Insurance 2019 at the Cover Excellence Awards.

What types of life insurance does The Exeter offer?

The life insurance products provided by The Exeter are called Real Life Insurance.

  • Level term life insurance - life insurance that pays out a lump sum of money that is the same regardless of when during the policy term (the number of years that cover is provided for) the policyholder dies.
  • Decreasing term life insurance - life insurance that pays out a lump sum of money that reduces over time in line with a repayment mortgage and is used to ensure that if the life insured dies before the mortgage is repaid, there is enough money to pay off the balance as it stands at the time of death.

The Exeter life insurance summary

  • Life cover is available for people who have had or are living with serious or multiple health conditions
  • All life insurance applications are individually assessed and considered for life cover
  • Real Life life insurance with The Exeter is not available through comparison sites - you have to speak to an adviser* to access it
  • Trusts that allow you to nominate your chosen beneficiaries can be arranged with The Exeter and will ensure that the money that pays out from your life insurance reaches the right people without becoming liable for inheritance tax
  • We have also reviewed The Exeter's health insurance cover which you can read at, "The Exeter health insurance review"

Which health conditions does The Exeter provide life insurance for?

The Exeter specialises in providing life insurance for people who are hard to insure because of their health, so it can be useful to apply to The Exeter if you have been declined by another life insurance company. The Exeter has a wider underwriting stance for accepting people with many different kinds of health conditions, as well as people with multiple health conditions. The following describes some of the specific health conditions that The Exeter could be more favourable for.

Upfront costs are available for people who have been diagnosed with:

  • Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Attack
  • Angina
  • Stroke
  • Obesity

Other illnesses that The Exeter specialises in providing life insurance for include:

Alcohol Abuse/Dependency

Atrial Fibrillation/Arrhythmias

  • Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • HIV Positive
  • Mental Illness
  • Multiple Sclerosis
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The Exeter Real Life life insurance policy summary

The Exeter Real Life insurance features How it works
Options Level term and Mortgage decreasing term (8% interest rate assumed for mortgage decreasing life cover)
Policy coverage Single life cover only
Cover amount £20,000 to £3,000,000 of life cover available
Term of cover Choose between 5 and 50 years of cover that runs to a maximum age of 90
Qualifying criteria UK residents who have been residents for at least 3 years and have no intention to work or reside outside the UK
Minimum age at entry 18 years old
Maximum age at entry 80 years old
Payments Monthly premiums remain the same throughout the term of the policy
Minimum payment £15 per month
Terminal illness cover included? Terminal illness cover is included and pays out if the insured person has a life expectancy of fewer than 12 months
Increasing cover option (indexation)? No, indexation is not available
Changes to cover possible? Cover can be increased or reduced subject to an assessment of health and the premium may change
Accidental death benefit A temporary cover that pays out for accidental death for applicants under the age of 55 during the application process
Waiver of premium No, waiver of premium is not included so your monthly premiums are not protected against long-term incapacity that causes loss of earnings
Additional policy benefits HealthWise is a member benefits service that offers policyholders and their children, if accompanied, access to Remote GP appointments and prescription service; Second medical opinions; Registered dietician consultations and Lifestyle and nutrition consultations.
Policy exclusions Death and terminal illness claims are not payable if:

  • the insured person dies or is diagnosed with a terminal illness as a result of suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury in the first 12 months
  • evidence that is requested by The Exeter is not forthcoming
  • information provided during the application process is inaccurate, incomplete or false
  • specific exclusions may be detailed within your policy that would apply on an individual basis

How much does The Exeter life insurance cost?

The Exeter's life insurance premiums start at £15 per month which is high compared with most other life insurance providers, which start from as little as £4 per month. However, the higher monthly premiums for The Exeter life insurance reflect the fact that it covers a larger proportion of people with health conditions.

How much will The Exeter charge for life insurance with pre-existing health conditions?

The amount that your life insurance will cost will be based on:

  • Your age
  • Whether you smoke
  • Your health
  • How much the life cover will pay out
  • How long the cover will run for

Given that The Exeter is more likely to offer life insurance to people with health conditions that are declined by other insurers, you should expect that the initial price of the life insurance will increase if you disclose a medical condition. This reflects the extra risk of their being a claim against your policy. This type of increase to an initial price for life insurance is referred to as a 'rating' and is usually denoted in percentage terms.

The additional cost is worked out as a percentage of the original cost. For example, if the initial price for a £400,000 level term life insurance for a 40-year-old woman was £10 per month and an increase of 250% was applied, the cost would increase by an amount that was equal to £10 x 250% meaning that the eventual price of the life insurance would be £35 per month.

If you feel that the life insurance cost is outside your budget, you can look to alter the policy information to bring the cost down. In a situation where you are unable to get life insurance due to your health it is wise to tailor the life insurance to your budget so that you have some life insurance instead of none.

Who should consider life insurance with The Exeter

Anyone who has struggled to get life insurance due to their health is likely to be a good candidate for The Exeter's 'Real Life' life insurance. If you are healthy and have no extra risk factors, it is likely that you will find life insurance cheaper elsewhere. The best way to check whether The Exeter is the best choice of life insurance company for your needs is to speak with a life insurance specialist* who will take the time to understand your health and personal circumstances before making recommendations based on an industry-wide search.

Is Real Life life insurance with The Exeter any good?

The life insurance that is offered by The Exeter is of good quality but has some minor limitations. There is no option for waiver of premium and you cannot buy joint life insurance. Although The Exeter is a good choice of life insurance provider for people with health conditions, there could be other providers that may be cheaper or are able to offer more cover for what you pay. As such, it is wise to speak to an independent life insurance specialist* as they will be able to search the whole market including The Exeter, and find the best life insurance for your particular health.

The Exeter life insurance customer reviews

The customer review site, Trustpilot rates The Exeter 4.3 out of 5 stars based on around 770 reviews from customers and is described as 'excellent'. The Exeter ranks number 76 out of 94 best companies in the category of Insurance Company on Trustpilot. The majority of these reviews are from customers who have bought The Exeter's health insurance plan however there are remarks about the attention to detail and personal customer service experienced by customers

The Exeter's life insurance product, Real Life is 3-star rated by Defaqto which means that it is an 'average quality' offering.

How to find the best and cheapest life insurance

The best way to have absolute peace of mind that you've chosen the right life insurance policy for your particular circumstances is to speak with an independent specialist life insurance adviser*. Specialist life insurance advisers are experts in the area of life insurance and because they are independent, they have access to a wide range of insurance companies and products. While you can trawl through the different options for life insurance online, this is time-consuming and you may not notice some of the subtle differences between the terms and conditions of one policy over another. You're even less likely to know what the terms will be after you have disclosed all of your medical history. Unfortunately, the application process can take time and it's not a process that most people want to repeat more than once.

Specialist life insurance advisers take all of your information, do the necessary research and then select the life insurance policy that will give you the best price and cover. This process will avoid any disappointment as the adviser will discuss the likely outcome of your life insurance application with you before you apply so that you're not wasting your time. They'll also support you to arrange a Trust for your life insurance policy so that you can nominate the people you want to receive the money when you die and a Trust will also stop the payout money from being liable for inheritance tax. You won't be charged for any of this service and you're under no obligation to buy but if you do go ahead, you will receive up to £100 cashback as a Money to the Masses reader.


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article