Vitality Health insurance review: the rewards and if it is worth it

28 min Read Published: 16 Sep 2021

Vitality Health insurance review

In this independent review, we take an in-depth look at Vitality Health insurance, paying particular attention to the benefits and rewards that are on offer.

Even if you don't know much about health insurance, it is pretty difficult to escape the marketing might of Vitality with its bright pink branding and distinctive dachshund adorning billboards and sports events across the country. While the cute dog does a great job of grabbing your attention it does little to explain the product or the benefits which is why we have created this in-depth review of Vitality health insurance. So is it worth the money?

In short, Vitality health insurance is a fantastic product with some incredible benefits and rewards but it isn't for everyone. Health insurance is a complex product and so you should always speak to an independent specialist who knows the product well and who can offer alternative options if Vitality isn't right for you. We explain the best and cheapest way to buy health insurance later in this article and we would recommend that you read the full article to understand the product fully, however you can jump to each section by clicking on the headings below.

Who is Vitality?

Vitality is owned by Discovery Holdings, a worldwide insurer and investment manager which protects over seven million people in 19 countries around the world, including Europe, the United States, Australia, South Africa, Canada and China. They were the pioneers of a revolutionary concept that rewarded customers in the form of cashback, discounts and partner offers in return for leading a healthier lifestyle. They launched the concept in the UK in 2007 with the help of established insurance company Prudential, eventually buying out Prudential's stake in 2014 leading to the launch of Vitality Life and Vitality Health.

Vitality Health has quickly established itself as one of the top providers of health insurance in the UK, which, marketing budget aside, could be attributed to its compelling membership model that rewards activity and engagement. Where Vitality has struggled however is explaining the product to potential new customers, clearly detailing the pros and cons and providing a simple journey for those that are interested in learning more.

What is private health insurance and how does it work?

Private health insurance (also known as private medical insurance or PMI) is a type of insurance that will pay for private medical treatment if you fall ill. Some insurance companies offer three levels of private health insurance, often described as basic, intermediate and comprehensive cover. The level of cover you receive will depend on the level of cover you select and as every insurance company offers a slightly different policy, you are best speaking to an independent specialist in order to truly understand the difference between each policy. We explain the best way to buy health insurance later in this article.

Vitality Health does it slightly differently as it offers a comprehensive 'core' cover, which includes advanced cancer cover (something that other insurance companies charge extra for). Vitality's Health insurance policy ranks somewhere between intermediate and comprehensive when compared to its peers, but it also offers additional cover options such as mental health cover, dental cover and out-patient cover that can be bolted on to the core cover at an additional cost. Vitality Health insurance will cover you for conditions which you have not sought any medical advice for or treatment within the past 5 years, as well as a variety of additional benefits which we go into more detail below. You will also need to select the type of medical underwriting (how you would like the insurance company to medically assess your application) as well as the excess you are prepared to pay in the event of a claim. We explain more about underwriting and excess later in this article.

How does Vitality Health insurance work?

Generous customer incentives such as up to half price Virgin Gym membership, free Amazon Prime and free cinema tickets make Vitality Health insurance a hugely appealing product, however it has one unfortunate drawback. By creating a product that provides activity-based rewards they have made an already complex product even more difficult to understand.

The job of this article is to cut through the jargon and explain in simple terms exactly what you get with Vitality Health, as well as the best way to apply for it (and it isn't by applying with Vitality directly). So, first things first. What cover do you get?

Vitality health insurance cover

Vitality Health insurance - Core Cover

Vitality Health 'core' cover provides access to private medical treatment as well as a variety of additional benefits, listed below:

  • Virtual GP consultations
  • Out-patient surgical procedures
  • Mental health support
  • In-patient treatment
  • Day-patient treatment
  • Advanced cancer cover
  • NHS hospital cash benefit
  • Childbirth cash benefit
  • Home nursing
  • Private ambulance
  • Parent accommodation
  • Oral surgery
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Corrective surgeries
  • Weight loss surgery
  • Talking Therapies
  • Rehabilitation

Vitality Health insurance - Additional Cover Options

In addition to the core benefits listed above, you can select additional cover options with Vitality Health, all at an additional cost.

  • Out-patient cover
  • Hospital choice
  • Mental health cover
  • Therapies cover
  • Dental cover
  • Worldwide travel cover

By selecting additional cover options, you are essentially adding an additional policy to your core policy. Each additional cover comes with a list of extra features and benefits and these may be worth looking into if you wanted to bolster your core cover, but remember it comes at an additional cost.

Vitality Health insurance - Selecting your level of out-patient cover

One of the choices you will be presented with is selecting the limit on the cost of out-patient treatment (which includes tests, specialist consultations and physiotherapy). As out-patient cover is effectively an additional benefit, any amount you select will add to your monthly premium. The options are as follows:

  • None
  • £500
  • £750
  • £1,000
  • £1,250
  • £1,500
  • Full cover (no limit)

The higher the limit, the higher your quote will be.

Vitality Health insurance - Selecting your excess

Another choice you have to make when buying health insurance is how much excess you are willing to pay. Most insurance companies require you to select one of the following:

  • £0 - This is usually the most expensive option
  • £100 - Not as expensive as the £0 excess option, a popular choice
  • £250 - This is the most popular selection and represents the best value for most people
  • £500 - Sometimes only a little cheaper than the £250 option
  • £1,000 - Surprisingly, not always the cheapest option

Vitality Health insurance - Selecting your hospital network

Another of the choices you will be presented with is selecting the hospital network. 'Consultant select' is the standard option where Vitality will select the consultant and hospital for you, however, you may decide to add an alternative option and we explain these options below:

  • Consultant select (included)- A consultant from a panel will decide who is best to treat you - the panel is made up of consultants from Alliance Health Group which is a doctor-owned national group of private consultants and the biggest of its kind in the UK. This option offers the 'no-quibble' advantage that Vitality will pay all fees based on the consultations and treatments that the panel agree, you need. 
  • Local - This options lets you choose your own consultants and hospitals in your area including BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health, Spire Healthcare, Ramsay Healthcare and Circle Health
  • Countrywide - Lets you choose hospitals and consultants from all over the country as well as a few London hospitals but not all
  • London Care - Lets you choose any Vitality-approved hospital and consultant across the UK and London including unlimited face-to-face GP consultations in London

Vitality Health insurance - How will your application be assessed?

When applying for health insurance your application will need to be medically assessed and you have two choices. You can choose to be fully medically underwritten which means you will have to provide additional medical information or you can choose to apply on a moratorium basis. If you decide to be fully medically underwritten then the application process will take a little longer and the insurance company will dig a little deeper into your medical past. With a moratorium policy you only need to give a limited amount of medical information, usually just a couple of yes or no answers. The policy will normally commence far quicker as a result however as you have not been fully medically assessed, you will not have full clarity on what you are covered for. If you apply on a moratorium basis, an insurer would exclude any conditions for which you have had treatment or advice within the last 5 years. Once you have taken a policy out however, if you remain symptom, advice and treatment free for two years, an insurer would normally cover you for that condition.

Vitality Health insurance rewards - What do you get?

When you take out a Vitality Health insurance policy with a premium of at least £35 per month, you automatically unlock a number of rewards. Additional rewards can be unlocked over time by tracking your daily activity, giving you access to free cinema tickets, free coffee, discounts on fresh food and even cashback. Some rewards will be based on weekly activity, some will be based on monthly activity and some will be based on your 'Vitality status', explained in more detail below.

Below we have summarised the rewards that you receive automatically and also the additional rewards that can be unlocked through getting active. We have also provided a table so that you can easily compare the rewards side by side.

What are the Vitality statuses and what do they mean?

Vitality uses activity points to motivate and reward its members. Some rewards are based on weekly or monthly activity however some are based on your Vitality status. When you take out a Vitality Health policy you begin on bronze status, once you earn 800 Vitality points you move to silver status, 1,600 points earn you gold status and 2,400 gives you platinum status, which is the highest status you can reach. The higher the status the better the rewards. We explain more about Vitality Health rewards below.

Vitality Status

Vitality Health - Automatic Rewards (not dependent on activity tracking)

Cashback

  • Up to 1% cashback when using a Vitality American Express credit card. (0.5% for the first £5,000, then 1% on everything else) Check out our Vitality American Express credit card review 
  • £50 cashback if you spend £50 or more at Runners Need using your Vitality American Express credit card

Health

  • Up to 50% off Virgin Active gyms
  • Up to 50% off Nuffield gyms
  • Up to 50% off David Lloyd clubs
  • Free annual subscription to Headspace
  • 50% off a screening at Bluecrest Health Screening
  • Free quit smoking programme with Allen Carr worth £299

Travel

  • Up to 75% off a stay at Champneys Spa resorts
  • 10% off up to four Expedia hotel bookings each year 
  • 25% off the first £200 spent at Mr & Mrs Smith luxury hotels

Sports Equipment

  • 50% off a pair of running shoes at Runners Need
  • Up to 40% off Garmin devices
  • Up to 40% off a Polar heart rate monitor

Vitality Health - Boosted Rewards (based on activity tracking)

Below are the additional rewards that you can unlock based on your activity. The rewards tend to either be based on your activity in the previous week, month or your current Vitality status. These rewards are in addition to all of the rewards above.

Cashback

  • Vitality American Express Credit Card - this credit card offer gives you 0.5% cashback if you spend between £0-5,000 over the year and 1% cashback if you spend more than £5,000 (increasing to £10,000 on 04/08/21) over the year. You can receive up to an extra 1% cashback based on your activity boosting your potential cashback to 2% overall. If you are a Vitality pink member which means you have a Vitality life insurance and a health insurance plan with a minimum overall premium of £90, your activity will earn you up to 2% extra instead of 1% meaning that your maximum cashback potential is 3% of what you spend. For a full breakdown of the Vitality American Express credit card check out our review 

Tech

  • Apple Watch Series 6 - pay an initial deposit from £37 to get your watch. This is a 36-month subscription and your monthly payment will depend on your activity. You pay between £0 and £9.50 per month. If you are an active person and earn 160+ activity points each month you will not have to pay anything.

Subscriptions

  • Amazon Prime - sign up to Amazon Prime through Vitality and get free annual membership, depending on your activity. When signing up, you will be placed on a 10-month payment plan, agreeing to a direct debit of £7.90 a month. If you earn over 160 points in a month, you will not be charged the £7.90 fee the following month. If you just miss out, points roll over and so even if you don't get Amazon Prime totally free, you are very likely to receive a heavy discount over the year.

Food and Drink

  • Waitrose & Partners - Up to 25% cashback off selected Waitrose & Partners 'Good Health' products up to a maximum spend of £100 per month for individuals or £200 for two or more adult members. The amount of cashback you receive is based on Vitality status.
  • Caffe Nero - Free tea, coffee, hot chocolate or other Caffe Nero drink can be earned with just 12 activity points per week. You can also receive 25% off selected Caffe Nero food items. The rewards appear in your Caffe Nero app to make claiming them extremely easy.

Cinema

  • Odeon and Vue - A free cinema ticket for you and qualifying children every month depending on your weekly activity. You need to earn 48 activity points in a month in order to earn your free cinema ticket. Each cinema ticket code can only be used once and is valid until the end of the following month. 

What is Vitality Pink?

You qualify for Vitality Pink if you have both a Vitality Health and Vitality Life plan with a combined premium of at least £90. Vitality Pink members receive additional benefits such as the potential to earn a further 1% cashback on the Vitality American Express credit card and an additional 15% on healthy food at Waitrose and Partners. Vitality Pink members that have serious illness cover also qualify for a cancer benefit booster which entitles members to payment of £1,000 per month for up to 6 months when undergoing active cancer treatment, as well as the value of their Vitality insurance premiums refunded. This protection benefit is a market-first and was added thanks in part to research provided by Macmillan Cancer Support that stated that the average person living with cancer is £570 per month worse off.

Vitality Health insurance rewards comparison table

Below we have summarised the annual savings you could achieve on partner rewards as a Vitality Health member. We have selected the most popular benefits and divided the table into three categories. The first column is the total saving you could make without tracking your daily activity. The second column is the total saving you could make if you maximise your rewards by reaching the maximum required weekly or monthly activity, as well as achieving platinum status. The final column is the total savings for a Vitality Pink member (you need to have a Vitality Health and Vitality Life plan with combined premiums of at least £90 to qualify).

  No Activity Maximum Activity & highest Vitality status Vitality Pink
Virgin Gym £480 £480 £480
Vitality American Express credit card (based on £1,000 per month spend) £120 £240 £360
Apple Watch £0 £342 £342
Waitrose healthy food (based on £100 healthy food spend per month) £0 £300 £480
Caffe Nero (1 coffee per week at £2.50 per coffee) £0 £130 £130
Weight Watchers £200 £200 £200
Odeon / Vue tickets (1x £11 adult and 1 x £6 child ticket assumed) £0 £204 £204
Amazon Prime £0 £79 £79
Total Savings £800 £1,975 £2,275

The above table gives the best-case scenario and the reality is that most people will not be able to maximise the savings on every reward. That said, it really doesn't take much to earn the 12 points required per week to earn a free coffee each week and if you are doing that anyway, then you will automatically qualify for free cinema tickets too. Even a moderately active person can earn enough rewards to cover their monthly premium, which is ultimately what makes Vitality Health insurance so popular.

Of course, the reality is that even if you are healthy and tracking your activity, you are unlikely to benefit from or make use of every partner reward, for example, you might not like going to the cinema or you might already have an Apple watch. Below we have provided some case studies which demonstrate the annual savings you may make based on a number of different scenarios.

Vitality Health insurance Rewards - The healthy one

Partner reward No Activity Maximum Activity & highest Vitality status Vitality Pink
Discounted Virgin gym membership £480 £480 £480
Waitrose healthy food (based on £100 healthy food spend per month) £0 £300 £480
Total Savings £480 £780 £960

Vitality Health insurance Rewards - The social one

Partner reward No Activity Maximum Activity & highest Vitality status Vitality Pink
Vitality American Express credit card (based on £1,000 per month spend) £120 £240 £360
Caffe Nero (1 coffee per week at £2.50 per coffee) £0 £130 £130
Odeon / Vue tickets (assuming £12 per ticket) £0 £312 £312
Total Savings £120 £682 £802

Vitality Health insurance Rewards - The techy one

Partner reward No Activity Maximum Activity & highest Vitality status Vitality Pink
Apple Watch £0 £342* £342*
Amazon Prime £0 £79 £79
Total Savings £0 £421 £421

*based on RRP £379

What is the best way to buy Vitality Health insurance (or just get a quote)?

While it is easy to praise Vitality for creating an innovative product and introducing the concept of member rewards there are areas where it falls down. Vitality's website is clunky, navigation is poor and can result in you going around in circles. As I've mentioned before, Health insurance is not a simple product to understand and so the addition of so many benefits and rewards has made Vitality's job of selling the product that little bit harder.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get any better when it comes to speaking to Vitality in order to get help with quotes, advice and applying for cover. The quality of service is inconsistent and the call can often feel pushy. One of the issues with speaking to Vitality directly is that they are not impartial. They are there to sell you a Vitality policy and are neither qualified or allowed to advise on similar products in the market. This is why it is always better to speak to an independent specialist whose sole job is to find the best possible health insurance policy for your own personal circumstances. It doesn't matter to an independent specialist whether you go for a Vitality Health insurance policy or a Bupa plan, so long as it is the best possible cover at the best possible price. You will never get that level of service or impartiality by speaking to Vitality to arrange your cover. An independent specialist will always have your best interests at heart and will bring the small print to your attention.

We have partnered with one of the UK's leading private health insurance comparison specialists* in order to provide you with the best and cheapest policies available and they will go the extra mile to explain all you need to know about Vitality Health insurance. The best bit is that it will cost you exactly the same as if you went to Vitality directly. To get started, click on the link above. You can then build your own quote and compare prices across the market, including Vitality. You can then apply online or call the number provided to speak to an adviser from Assured Futures, which is what most people will do.

Assured Futures* was named Best Healthcare Intermediary at the Cover Excellence Awards in 2020 and offers a price guarantee on all new quotations. That means that if you find a like-for-like quote cheaper elsewhere Assured Futures will match it and give you £50 cash.

 

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 - Assured Futures