Who are the best family health insurance providers?
The leading providers of family health insurance in the UK are:
There are of course other insurers out there, but these are those which provide the most comprehensive range of products and more importantly, consistently perform well in terms of customer satisfaction.
What is family health insurance?
Family health insurance, often referred to as private medical insurance (PMI), provides you and those closest to you with access to the UK’s private healthcare services. By paying a monthly premium, your family will be covered for a large range of illnesses that require hospital treatment. You can choose between an entry-level policy that will cover you and your family for only inpatient treatments, or opt for a more comprehensive one where outpatient treatment and even diagnosis will take place privately. As there are many providers and lots of ways you can configure your family’s health insurance, it always pays to compare quotes and crucially speak to an expert to make sure you get the right one for you. Indeed, even if you already have a family health insurance policy, you should review it each year with a broker, to make sure you are always getting the best deal.
In this guide we explain everything you need to know about family health insurance, along with answering some of the most common questions we are asked.
What are the benefits of family health insurance?
The primary benefit of family health insurance is that you and your family will be able to access private healthcare services in the UK. But what does that exactly mean and what can you expect?
Benefits of family health insurance
- Your family will be treated at a time that suits you
- You’ll avoid potentially long delays on NHS waiting lists
- You and your loved ones will have access to the latest treatments and drugs, even those not currently available on the NHS.
- You’ll be entitled to overnight accommodation if your children (that are covered by the policy) are admitted for inpatient treatment.
- With a comprehensive policy, your family will benefit from often faster diagnosis, and private outpatient treatments.
- Finally, you’ll have peace of mind that should a member of your family fall ill, you’ll receive a high standard of care.
What does family health insurance cover?
Family health insurance will only cover the cost of acute conditions, meaning those that are short term and curable, not long term, chronic conditions. As each provider, their policies and cover are different, it’s always best to speak to one of our specialists and get free advice on which provider will be best for you before making a decision. All of the lead is extremely useful.
All family health insurance policies will cover the cost of treatment where a hospital bed is needed overnight. Basic health insurance policies will often only offer inpatient cover, while more comprehensive policies will cover outpatient services too.
Outpatient cover pays for some or all of the costs relating to acute conditions that don’t require a hospital bed. The most comprehensive policies will typically cover you for all of your outpatient diagnosis, consultations and treatments too.
What is not covered by family private health insurance?
What isn’t included under your family's health insurance will vary between each provider and their policies, but consistently you’ll find that the following won’t typically be covered:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Chronic conditions
- GP services
- Emergency services
- Normal pregnancy
If you’re unclear about whether a certain condition would or wouldn’t be covered, make sure you mention it to your adviser when you speak to us, or alternatively, raise it with your insurer or refer to your policy documentation.
How much does UK family health insurance cost?
There are many factors that will affect the cost of your family's health insurance, from your age and medical history through to your chosen level of cover and hospital list. Broadly speaking, a family of four, with two adults and two children under ten can expect to pay anywhere from £800 - £2,000 per year. As you get older your premiums will increase, but it is always worth checking with us at renewal time to see if another provider might be able to offer you a better deal.
Reducing the cost of family health insurance
There are a number of ways that you can reduce the cost of your family health insurance, not all of which will result in a lesser level of coverage. Firstly, you should consider how much cover you actually need, if for instance you have dental cover included, but are keen to bring the cost down, perhaps that’s a luxury you don’t need. Equally, if you are primarily interested in having cover for serious illnesses which will more than likely require a stay in hospital, you may decide that outpatient cover is surplus to your family’s requirements.
Next you might look at increasing your excess, which is the amount you need to pay towards each claim. It’s often the case that by increasing your excess you can substantially reduce the cost of the policy, just be sure that you don’t increase it too far, to keep it affordable.
There are more ways to reduce the cost of your family’s health insurance too, but most of them revolve around speaking to a health insurance broker. Working with a specialist health insurance broker ensures that both your family's needs from a medical and budgetary perspective are considered.
How to choose the right family healthcare policy
When choosing the best private healthcare policy for your family there are several key considerations that you should bear in mind:
Do you require access to quicker diagnosis?
Outpatient diagnostics and consultations aren’t usually included on basic policies, so if you’re keen to avoid potential delays of being assessed through the NHS, you’d be best to consider a more comprehensive policy.
Better or more convenient hospitals and treatments
Every provider and policy will have a different list of hospitals and treatments that are available, so it’s important to consider those when choosing your policy. For instance, you’ll probably want to make sure that private hospitals that are local to you are included.
Cover for specific illnesses or drugs
Are there certain illnesses which your family are more predisposed to? If so you’ll want to make sure they are covered in your policy. Equally, if you want access to the latest drugs, you’ll need to make sure they’re included.
Affordability today and tomorrow
It’s always important to make sure that your health insurance is affordable, not just today, but in the future too. With premiums typically rising each year as you and your family age, the last thing you want is for your health insurance to become unaffordable.
The 7 top health insurance providers for families
While there are of course more than 7 providers in the market and our advisers always look at all of the options available to you, these insurers have established themselves as the market leaders for a number of reasons. When we are determining which providers are best for families, we take a number of factors into consideration:
- Customer reviews and satisfaction - arguably the most telling and revealing way to judge a provider’s service is to look at their customers satisfaction ratings. With each of the insurers we’ve included in this guide having thousands of customers and reviews, it’s fairly quick and easy to benchmark them, which aids us all in making informed decisions.
- Product comprehensiveness - getting the right policy often comes down to being able to tailor it specifically to your family’s needs. The broader the range of services available and the more flexible the insurer is, the greater the probability that we can configure a family medical policy that fits you and your loved ones perfectly.
- Price and competitiveness - with family health insurance typically costing anywhere from £800 per year upwards, it’s incredibly important that the policy you take out is competitive and affordable. When you consider that the premiums will in all likelihood rise as you and your family age too, it makes it all the more important to go with the best price.
- Defaqto Rating - Defaqto ratings are an independent and unbiased assessment of the quality of the product that is on offer. The rating instantly gives you insight into the comparable level of cover provided by each of the insurers. As we’re here looking at the best family health insurance in the UK, we’re only interested in these provider’s best products, so if you’re looking for anything other than a comprehensive policy, please request a quote and speak to one of our advisers.
Best family health insurance companies review
Here we review the best providers of family health insurance, giving you a summary of why each of them have made it onto our list. For a more detailed analysis, please visit the independent guides we have written for some of the providers, or request a quote and speak to an independent broker who can help you find the right company for your family.
Bupa is synonymous with health insurance and with more than 17 million customers worldwide, it’s easy to see why. Bupa currently has an excellent Trustpilot score of 4.3 out of 5, which is all the more impressive as it’s based upon over 9,500 reviews. For a company the size of Bupa, with the number of customers they serve, providing such a consistently high level of service stands them out. Next, let’s look at their Defacto rating for their gold standard comprehensive product, “Bupa by You Comprehensive”. We’re pleased to report that for 2021, Bupa received a five star rating for their most comprehensive product, confirming our belief that it is one of the best products out there for families and individuals for that matter.
The great thing about Bupa’s offering is that it’s flexible and can be configured according to your personal requirements. Not only that, but on the note of affordability, they offer a 10% discount for families who take out a joint policy, rather than individual ones.
Aviva is the biggest insurer in the UK and again a household name. With a broader range of services it’s likely that at some point or another you’ve had an Aviva policy of some description, so we’d hope you have some first hand experience of them. That said, the service provided with a health insurance policy is typically more personal than say a home insurance one, so let’s dig into some stats to see how and why Aviva are on our shortlist.
Aviva currently enjoys a Trustpilot score of 4.5 out of 5 from over 7,000 reviews. It has to be said though that these aren’t specifically for health insurance, but it should give you some confidence that the company as a whole performs so well. Aviva’s Healthier Solutions product, their most comprehensive offering, scores the top marks from Defaqto with five stars.
Aviva have also received a number of recent awards for their health insurance, it’s a key part of their portfolio and we have no hesitation in recommending it to our clients.
Axa PPP are another household name who have been providing a huge range of insurance services to consumers and business alike for many years. Based on over 7,000 reviews on Feefo, Axa PPP has scored an impressive 4.7 out of 5, that really is some feat given the number of customers they service. Reading through some of the reviews it’s easy to see that the personal service and care that each and everyone of their health insurance customers receives is second to none.
Axa’s flagship health insurance product “Axa Personal Health” received a five star Defaqto rating in 2021, cementing their place as one of the best providers of health insurance to families, individuals and businesses. While we are independent, we do often find that Axa health insurance policies fit the families we speak to better than some of the other providers. The feedback we’ve received from clients we’ve placed with Axa has been excellent and their pricing is always very keen too.
Vitality stands out for more reasons than simply a catchy brand and bright colours. They’re innovative approach to both health and life insurance, which rewards people for living healthier lives, has been nothing short of revolutionary in the market. In fact, many providers have now followed suit, and started to offer various additional benefits and perks for both taking out a policy with them and for being as healthy as possible.
Vitality currently has a Trustpilot score of 4.3 out of 5, which you might think puts them on par with both Bupa and Aviva, but importantly, Vitality has that score from over 3 times as many reviews. Yes, they’ve amassed over 22,000 customer reviews! Delivering such a consistently high level of customer service to so many customers is no mean feat and we applaud Vitality for their commitment to quality.
Vitality’s top health insurance product, Personal Healthcare, scores a five star Defaqto rating, further confirming their rightful place in our shortlist. Vitality tends to be a particularly good choice for families who like to keep active, want some extra perks like discounted gym membership and even those that like the odd free gadget here and there. We’ve placed many families with Vitality over the years and they’ve all been happy with the service and indeed price they’ve received.
The Exeter is perhaps a lesser known name on our list of top insurers, but they do deserve their place and hundreds of happy customers to prove it. They’ve only been collecting reviews on Trustpilot for a short time in comparison to the other insurers in this guide, but they’ve still received over 450 reviews with a combined score of 4.5 out of 5.
Importantly, The Exeter’s comprehensive family health insurance product Health+ scores a five star Defaqto rating, confirming its place among the other big hitters on this list. Similarly to the other companies we’ve spoken about, The Exeter allows you and your family to extensively customise your policy so that it fits your exact requirements.
In terms of price, The Exeter are always competitive and are one of the providers that show up top in our searches on a regular basis.
Again a lesser known provider but one with thousands of customers in the UK, WPA is perhaps the one provider that gives you the greatest scope to customise your policy. Indeed, they even allow you to cover extended family, i.e. those that don’t live with you if you so wish. WPA scores highly on Trustpilot with a very impressive 4.8 out of 5, albeit from a relatively small number of reviews (751).
Where their product differs from the others that we’ve mentioned thus far on this list is that in 2021 it only received a 4 star Default rating, not 5. That doesn’t make it bad, no, it’s been deemed to be not quite as comprehensive as some of the other products out there.
We very much value the flexibility of WPA’s offering and their pricing is also always very keen, so while their Defaqto rating may not be quite as high as some of the others, they shouldn’t be completely disregarded.
Freedom Health Insurance
Freedom Insurance are the final provider on our list and they are here because uniquely they specialise in health insurance and don’t offer any other products. When looking for reviews of Freedom they’re actually fairly thin on the ground. Yes, they have 30 odd on Feefo, but that pales into insignificance in comparison to the others we’ve mentioned. From discussions with Freedom, we understand that they have only recently started collecting reviews and that they intend to get more customer reviews published as quickly as possible.
Like WPA’s comprehensive policy, Freedom’s “Elite” family health insurance, is rated a good 4 stars by Defaqto. Yes, again, this isn’t as strong as some of the other providers but it’s still extremely respectable, especially when you consider they are one of the smaller providers on this list.
Why it pays to speak to a broker
We hope that you found this article useful in narrowing down the providers you might use for your family’s healthcare provision. While you can of course contact each of the providers individually and get quotations from them it usually makes more sense to speak to a health insurance broker as they can help you configure the product and get the best deal as quickly as possible. We regularly help families navigate the increasingly complex world of health insurance, so please rest assured that you will be in good hands should you request a quote from us. All of our advisers are FCA authorised and importantly independent, so you will receive expert advice, without any bias. Not least of all, the service that a broker provides is free of charge to you and you can often get a better deal by going through a broker than going direct.
Frequently asked questions
Why should I get family health insurance?
Family health insurance provides a number of benefits which broadly are:
- Avoid potential delays on NHS waiting lists, for both diagnosis and treatment.
- Choose your specialist, hospital and when you are treated
- Access new drugs and treatments, some of which won’t yet be available on the NHS
- Receive faster access to mental health and physiotherapy services
Depending on the insurer you may have other benefits too, such as discounted gym membership, free cinema tickets, amongst others.
Do I need family health insurance?
Unfortunately, as we all know, the NHS is under a huge amount of strain and targets for routine operations and even more, serious conditions are being missed. As such, family health insurance is becoming less of a luxury and more mainstream among UK families.
We go out to all of the leading health insurance providers on your behalf and will come back to you with recommendations based on your family’s specific requirements. We don’t charge for our service and the price you’ll get is the same as you’d get as going direct.
How much is family health insurance?
There are many factors which will affect the cost of your family’s health insurance premium, these include things such as your age, medical history, through to the number of people on the policy and your level of cover. As a broad estimate, a family four, with two adults and two children who are both under 10, can expect to pay anywhere from £800 to £2000 per year. This is just an example though and we would suggest that you contact us to get a free quotation based on your specific requirements.
Which is the best private health insurance for families in the UK?
All of the leading providers have their own benefits and which is best for you will depend on your family's circumstances and requirements.
What’s not included in family health insurance?
Different providers of family medical insurance will cover different things, but broadly speaking you can expect the following to be excluded from most policies:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Chronic conditions (i.e. not curable)
- Normal pregnancy
- Emergency service
- GP Services (although some insurers are now providing virtual GP services)
Where can I compare family health insurance?
While there are a number of online comparison websites you can use, you will likely find the information they provide is fairly difficult to digest. That’s why we always recommend speaking to a health insurance specialist such as ourselves. You’ll still get the same price as you would by going direct, but with the added benefit of having free advice on choosing the right policy for your family.
How can I reduce the cost of family health insurance?
There are a number of ways you could reduce the cost of family health insurance, but we would always recommend speaking to make sure you aren’t sacrificing cover that you may well need. Some of the ways you could reduce the cost are:
- Switching to full medical underwriting
- Switching to a new insurer
- Changing the level of cover on the policy
- Increasing the excess
- Reducing the number of people on the policy
These are just examples of course and when you speak to us we will be able to review your individual requirements to find the best solution.