8 min Read
02 Sep 2019

Written by Andy

Which is the best private health insurance policy provider?

In this article we take a look at private health insurance (sometimes referred to as private medical insurance) explaining what we like and what we don't like about the cover and which companies offer the best and most comprehensive private health insurance cover.

What is private health insurance?

Put simply, private health insurance (which is also referred to as private medical insurance or PMI) is a type of insurance that will pay for private medical treatment if you fall ill. It is more complex than that however as there are many options to consider, including a multitude of different levels and types of cover, so it is worth doing your research before you commit to a particular plan or provider. Check out our article Is private health insurance worth it for more information about what private health insurance covers and what types of cover are available.

How to compare the best UK health insurance policies

The best way to compare private health insurance policies is to speak to an independent specialist as comparing private health insurance quotes is tricky, due to the number of different types of policies available. An independent specialist will be able to compare every policy available and provide practical advice based on your own unique circumstances. You'll be able to compare like for like policies and know exactly what you are covered for. While you can use an online comparison tool to get an idea of prices, it is extremely tricky to compare policies side-by-side and ensure that they are offering the same benefits.

Which are the best UK private healthcare providers

It is not for us to say who is the best private health insurance provider as it depends what type of cover you need and so the best provider will be different depending on who you are and what you require. Below we have listed 5 of the biggest private health insurance providers and picked out what we like and what we don't like about each.  

Bupa Health Insurance

What we like

  • Bupa is the UK's largest health insurance company
  • Owns many private hospitals and clinics
  • Aims to cover customers from diagnosis to treatment
  • Cover can be tailored
  • 5-star rating from independent industry reviewer Defaqto

What we don't like

  • Comprehensive cover can be relatively expensive

Vitality Health Insurance (formally Pru Health)

What we like

  • One of the most 'visible' health insurance brands. Often seen advertising football, netball and cricket on the TV
  • Rewards for active and healthy living including cashback, discounted gym membership, free cinema tickets and free Starbucks coffee
  • Access to real GP's via video chat
  • 5-star rating from independent industry reviewer Defaqto

What we don't like

  • Benefits are regularly reviewed and can be removed without warning

Axa PPP Health Insurance

What we like

  • 24-hour claims helpline with access to trained nurses and councillors 
  • Offers no claims discounts and rewards to keep renewal costs low
  • Offers a 6-week clause that allows you the chance to get treated on the NHS initially - helping to bring down the cost of the cover 
  • 5-star rating from independent industry reviewer Defaqto

What we don't like

  • Reviews from customers suggest that customer service and wait times could be improved

Aviva Health Insurance

What we like

  • Global insurance brand with over 30 million customers worldwide
  • 24 hour GP helpline
  • Free cover for younger children if you take out cover for you and your eldest child
  • Offers a 6-week clause that allows you the chance to get treated on the NHS initially - helping to bring down the cost of the cover
  • 5-star rating from independent industry reviewer Defaqto

What we don't like

  • Comprehensive cover can be relatively expensive

WPA Health Insurance

What we like

  • WPA is a not-for-profit insurer meaning it does not operate in order to generate a profit for its shareholders
  • Policies can be tailored to suit your budget
  • No upper age limit
  • Can insure multiple families on one policy
  • Can add your partner free for a year or alternatively receive a 25% discount for a plan in one name 
  • 4-star rating from independent industry reviewer Defaqto

What we don't like

  • WPA offers lots of options so you need to be sure what you are buying and ensure that it is the right policy for you

What is the best way to buy private health insurance?

Step 1 - Work out your budget

Firstly, work out your budget. Once you know how much you are willing to spend you can start working out the type of cover that is affordable. There is no point in buying private health insurance cover that is beyond your budget as it is likely that you will cancel it, leaving you with no cover when it comes time to claim. 

Step 2 - Prioritise

Would you prefer to pay a higher premium in return for a lower excess or would you be better off paying lower premiums in the knowledge that you may have to pay a high excess fee come claim time? Is getting treated locally important to you? Do you place higher importance on being diagnosed quickly or maybe it is more important for you to simply receive treatment. All of your decisions will impact the potential premium that you will pay and so it is important to know where your priorities lie or at least which parts of the cover are less important to you.

Step 3 - Shop around

Do your research and shop around. Private health insurance is a competitive market and so don't take the first price that you are quoted. Frustratingly, private health insurance is difficult to compare like-for-like policies due to the different types of cover available but this brings us onto step 4....

Step 4 - Speak to an expert

Simply shopping around and comparing policies, using online comparison sites, will only get you so far. Private health insurance is a complex product and is extremely difficult to compare policies. There are companies that provide independent, impartial advice and whose job it is to compare private medical insurance policies and tailor the cover to your own specific needs and so you should get advice before you commit to buying a policy through a price comparison site. 

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