Vitality Health insurance review: is it worth it?

17 min Read Published: 19 Jun 2024

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 at sports events across the country. While the cute dog does a great job of grabbing your attention it does little to explain the private health insurance product or the benefits and rewards which is why we have created this in-depth review of Vitality health insurance. So is it worth the money?

1 min summary - Vitality Health insurance review

  • Get £100 cashback* when you take out any new Vitality health insurance policy. Speak to an independent expert or get an instant online quote. See how Vitality Health compares to Axa Health, Bupa and Aviva. Offer ends 31st July 2024.
  • Access to virtual private GP appointments with all policies
  • Advanced cancer support included
  • Earn exclusive rewards including Free Amazon Prime, Odeon and Vue cinema tickets, Cafe Nero coffee as well as discounted gym membership and offers on an Apple Watch

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 30 million people 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, healthy living discounts and partner offers in return for leading a healthier lifestyle and living a better life. 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 insurance and Vitality Health insurance. You can now buy life insurance, illness covers, health insurance and even car insurance with Vitality to enjoy rewards. 

Vitality Health 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 buying a Vitality health insurance policy.

Vitality's life insurance and health insurance policies are 5-star Defaqto rated which means that they are extremely comprehensive compared with similar products available to buy. Trustpilot, the customer review website rates Vitality as ‘Great' with 4.2 out of 5 stars based on over 41,000 customer reviews.

What is Vitality health insurance?

Health insurance (sometimes referred to 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 health insurance, which can broadly be described as basic, intermediate and comprehensive cover.

The level of cover you get will depend on the type of health insurance you select and as every insurance company offers a slightly different policy, you are often best speaking to an independent health insurance 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 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 onto the core cover at an additional cost.

Vitality Health insurance will cover you for pre-existing 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 Apple watch 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 health insurance cover do you get with Vitality?

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:

  • Integrated primary care
  • Virtual Vitality GP consultations
  • Out-patient surgical procedures
  • Mental health support
  • In-patient treatment
  • Physiotherapy
  • 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 list choice
  • Mental health cover
  • Therapies cover
  • Dental cover
  • Optical cover
  • Hearing 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 want to bolster your core cover, but remember it comes at an additional cost.

How much does Vitality health insurance cost?

Vitality Health insurance prices are usually calculated based on your age, whether you smoke, your geographical location and the options that you choose to include within your health cover which we describe in detail earlier in this article.

The key factors that will affect the cost of your Vitality health insurance are whether you add your partner and children to the policy, the level of out-patient cover you choose, the excess you are willing to pay towards any insurance claims you make and the hospital list you wish to access. A larger amount of out-patient cover will increase your monthly premium as will a small excess amount. You should select your hospital list based on the hospitals that are conveniently located for you so that you're not left disappointed if you ever need medical treatment either as an in-patient or out-patient.

Below we have listed Vitality health insurance quotes for people aged 20, 30, 40 and 50 years old who do not smoke and live in South-East England. We have selected out-patient cover at £500 which will allow you to claim up to £500 medical expenses for outpatient tests, specialist consultations and physiotherapy. The quotes assume that you are happy to pay a £250 excess towards any medical claims each year (remember to get quotes for different excess levels as we found that the cost difference between a £250 and £500 excess was almost negligible). For hospital choices, we have included Vitality's Consultant Select option which is the standard option where Vitality will find a consultant and hospital for you – choosing for yourself will cost more.

Monthly cost of Vitality health insurance cover

Your age Monthly cost of Vitality health insurance¹
20 years old £43.99
30 years old £44.01
40 years old £44.01
50 years old £61.06

¹ Quoted prices are correct as of 6th June 2024 and do not include mental health cover, therapies cover, optical/dental/hearing cover or worldwide travel cover

How to tailor your Vitality health insurance for your budget

The cost of your Vitality health insurance policy is based on your personal information such as your age, smoker status and where you live. However, there are choices that you will make when you arrange your health insurance policy that will determine how much you pay for your Vitality health insurance policy. We have described these options below to explain which choices could help you to get the healthcare insurance you want at a price that is affordable to you.

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 given that if you reduce your excess, your premium will increase. 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 private hospital list. ‘Consultant select' is the standard option where Vitality will select the consultant and hospital for you, usually paying the consultancy fees directly. Choosing a hospital list that allows you to select the hospital you are treated at will cost more. Countrywide allows you to access hospitals in the BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health, Spire Healthcare and Ramsay Health care groups while the London Care option provides access to all private hospitals in the UK including many London hospitals you may not otherwise have access to as well as all NHS hospitals with private facilities in the UK.

Vitality's hospital list options for you to choose from:

  • 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 agrees, you need. 
  • Countrywide – This 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 three choices. These are Full Medical Underwriting, Moratorium Underwriting or Continued Medical Exclusions Underwriting – the one that is right for you will depend on whether you previously held private medical insurance, your health and what you wished to be covered for.

  • Full Medical Underwriting – you will have to provide your medical information allowing Vitality to assess your health and lifestyle. This will determine exactly what you will and won't be covered for. This is good for those who want to know exactly what they are able to claim for and may even cover health concerns that would otherwise be excluded as it is personalised. Vitality has automated this application process so that more customers can enjoy the benefits of full medical underwriting without the delays that were previously experienced when the process was manual. Although not all types of health history will go through the automated underwriting system, many will so it is worth considering. 
  • Moratorium Underwriting – you won't have to share your health information for this type of underwriting, instead Vitality will decide if you are covered when you make a claim. This is good for those who don't want to answer health questions at the application state, making it faster to get covered and are happy that they won't be covered for any health concerns that have presented over the last 5 years until they reach 2 years of not needing treatment, medication or advice for that concern. 
  • Continued Personal Medical Exclusions Underwriting (CPME/Switch) – you can switch from an existing private health insurance policy with another provider using this option by answering a few simple questions about your health and opting to carry forward any exclusions that applied to your old insurance. This is good if you are simply switching to Vitality from another provider and are otherwise happy with what you are covered for. Also, depending on how you answer the simple health questions you may even qualify for a 10% discount on your premium.
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Pros and cons of Vitality health insurance

Pros

  • Advanced cancer cover included
  • Mental health support and talking therapies
  • Access to Vitality rewards, discounts and benefits
  • Healthy lifestyle rewarded with premium discounts at Platinum status

Cons

  • Prices can start to increase if you don't engage in healthy living towards your Vitality Status
  • Virtual GP consultations may be limited to 4 appointments per plan year depending on your level of cover
  • You may not be covered for pre-existing medical conditions

Vitality Health insurance rewards – What do you get?

When you take out a Vitality Health insurance policy with a premium of at least £38 per month, you automatically unlock a number of rewards within the Vitality programme. 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

Health

  • Up to 50% off Virgin Active gyms
  • Up to 50% off Nuffield Health gyms
  • Up to 50% off PureGym
  • Free annual subscription to Headspace
  • Up to 81% off a screening at Bluecrest Health Screening
  • Free quit smoking programme with Allen Carr worth £349

Travel

  • Up to 75% off a stay at Champneys Spa resorts
  • Up to 20% off up to four Expedia hotel bookings each year 
  • 25% off £200 to £500 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 36% off Fitbit devices including smart scales and kids' 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 (points can take up to 48 hours to appear in your member zone). 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 £0-10,000 over the year and 1% cashback on the amount that you spend over and above £10,000 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 9 – available for as little as £39 upfront and starting at £7 upfront for other models of the 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 pay no more than the upfront fee. 

Food and Drink

  • Waitrose & Partners – Up to 40% 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 up to £1,000 per month for up to 6 months when undergoing active cancer treatment. The amount payable is made up of £570 plus the cost of your health and life insurance plans with Vitality. 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).

 Partner Reward 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) £70 £190 £310
Apple Watch £0 £360 £360
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 6-month subscription for £30 £250 £250 £250
Odeon / Vue tickets (1x £11 adult and 1 x £6 child ticket assumed) £0 £204 £204
Total Savings £800 £2,714 £2,214

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 expect to earn enough Vitality points to be rewarded with the Vitality benefits to match the amount that would 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) £100 £290 £410
Caffe Nero (1 coffee per week at £2.50 per coffee) £0 £130 £130
Odeon / Vue tickets (assuming £12 per ticket) £0 £144 £144
Total Savings £100 £564 £684

Vitality Health insurance Rewards – The techy one

Partner reward No Activity Maximum Activity & highest Vitality status Vitality Pink
Apple Watch £0 £360^ £360^
Total Savings £0 £360 £360

^based on RRP £399 minus upfront cost of £39 for a Series 9 Apple Watch

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 the experience of customers who try to contact Vitality in order to get help with quotes, advice and applying for cover. The quality of customer 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 from other health insurance companies 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 a health insurance adviser, which is what most people will do.

This specialist health insurance adviser* offers a price guarantee on all new quotations and in addition, will pay £100 cashback on all new private healthcare policies. Offer ends 31st July 2024. 

 

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 – Howden Life & Health