Is it more expensive buying health insurance through a broker?

Kirsty France
Personal Finance and Healthcare Expert
Kirsty is a personal finance and healthcare expert who enjoys demystifying legal and insurance topics for a wider audience. She’s a former solicitor with a personal injury and insurance background.
Kirsty France
Reviewed by
Chris Steele
Founder and Editor
Cert CII (F1, IF7 & I10)
Chris is our resident private health insurance and healthcare expert. He has over a decade of experience writing about private medical insurance and treatment. He's Chartered Insurance Institute qualified and is regularly quoted by the national press.
Chris Steele
Reviewed by
Updated on
May 8, 2024

If you've decided to buy health insurance, you might think that working with an insurance broker will make your policy more expensive, as you're adding a middleman. However, a good broker could save you money. Here's how brokers can reduce the cost of your health insurance.

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Does it cost more to buy health insurance through a broker?

The short answer is no; using a broker to buy health insurance usually doesn’t cost you anything more. In other words, your premium won’t be increased to cover the broker’s fee.

A good broker will, more often than not, save you time and money and help you find a health insurance policy that fits your needs and budget. 

How do health insurance brokers work?

A health insurance broker is an intermediary between you and a health insurance company. There are many health insurance companies in the UK market, and health insurance brokers help you to choose the right one for your needs. Your insurance broker will also help you choose the best health insurance policy and tailor it to suit you.

When you choose a health insurance broker, they'll start by talking with you to understand your requirements. Next, they'll obtain quotes from health insurance companies and talk you through them to help you understand the pros and cons of each quote so you can choose a suitable policy.

An illustration of two individuals engaged in conversation. The text overlay reads: "Four things to think about when choosing an insurance broker: Is the company authorised and regulated by the FCA? How much experience does your adviser have? Do you feel comfortable talking to them? What are their clients saying?"

The benefits of buying health insurance through a broker

Health insurance brokers can help you reduce your health insurance premiums, but there are other benefits. Specialist health insurance brokers have an in-depth knowledge of the UK insurance market and can offer expert advice on the best insurance company and policy for your needs.

You may think the most straightforward way to get quotes is to contact each health insurance company directly. However, this approach can be time-consuming, especially if you must chase insurers for quotes. Health insurance brokers provide a time-saving service, as they'll get quotes and do all the chasing for you.

Illustration of two people having a conversation showcasing the 7 benefits of working with a health insurance broker. The text reads: "7 benefits of working with a health insurance broker: 1. Saves you time; 2. Brokers are unbiased; 3. Help with jargon and complexity; 4. Support with renewals; 5. Likely saves money; 6. Knowledge of the health insurance market; 7. Support when you make a claim.

How a health insurance broker can help you save money

Health insurance brokers can help you reduce your health insurance premium in various ways. When you first speak with a health insurance broker, they'll work to understand your life and circumstances. Your lifestyle can influence the health insurance cover you need and how much your premium will cost.

Your health insurance broker's advice may also help you spend less elsewhere. Here are a few ways a health insurance broker can save you money on your health insurance.

1. A broker can introduce you to new health insurance providers

When you buy insurance, you might be tempted to stick to the leading providers you've seen advertised on TV or in the press. However, many smaller insurance companies provide excellent coverage but have a lower profile than the major insurance providers.

Health insurance brokers have in-depth knowledge of every provider and can recommend those that meet your needs. For example, some insurers have family-friendly policies, while others focus on health and well-being. An insurance broker can guide you towards providers whose policy features best meet your needs and who you may not have contacted yourself.

2. You won't waste money paying for cover you don't need

Health insurance typically starts with core cover that the insurance provider includes on every policy. This usually includes in-patient treatment, cancer care, some limited mental health support and out-patient coverage for diagnostic tests or procedures.

Next, you can tailor your coverage by adding optional extras at an extra cost, such as full out-patient coverage and therapies such as physiotherapy or acupuncture. Your broker can give you personalised advice on which optional extras are worth having so you don't waste money buying coverage you're unlikely to use and only add extras that will benefit you.

3. They'll let you know where to spend more

It might seem counterintuitive to discuss spending more when talking about ways your insurance broker can help you reduce costs. However, if you want cost-effective coverage, it's wise to spend your money where it'll benefit you most.

Your health insurance broker can give you expert advice on policy coverage that meets your specific requirements. For example, you might have a family history of cancer and want the most comprehensive coverage, or you might need plenty of coverage for physical therapies because you're at risk of musculoskeletal problems.

By helping you reduce your premiums elsewhere, an insurance broker can free up your remaining budget to spend on the things that matter most.

4. They can advise you on the best ways to reduce your premium

There are several ways to reduce your health insurance premiums. Reducing the amount of cover your policy provides is one way, but there are others. Your health insurance premiums will depend on some personal factors you can't control, such as your age or medical history.

However, some policy terms also help you lower your premium. A policy excess means you pay some of the treatment costs yourself when you claim. Some are per treatment, and others are annual, and increasing the excess will reduce your premium. Your health insurance broker will discuss your options with you and help you decide what is affordable so you don't avoid using your health insurance because the excess is too high.

They can also explain other options. Guided consultant choice reduces the number of consultants your policy covers. A six-week wait option means you can only claim on your policy if you'll wait more than six weeks for NHS treatment.

5. A broker can help you reduce your expenses elsewhere

A health insurance broker can assess your living costs and advise you on ways your health insurance could help you reduce them. Your total monthly or annual expenses will likely still increase when you start paying your health insurance premium, but your policy can help you offset that increase if you choose wisely.

Here are two main ways your health insurance can help you lower costs.

Regular health expenses

If you already pay for routine healthcare such as eye tests or dental check-ups, your health insurance coverage could provide the same cover for less. You can include optical and dental cover on most private health insurance as an optional extra. Your health insurance broker can advise on whether the increased premium is lower than your current price.

Alternatively, many policies let you add a health cash plan that pays cashback on routine health expenses. You can claim back all or part of the fees for your eye test, glasses, dental check-ups and treatment. Most plans also cover treatments such as private physiotherapy and pay a fixed sum if you receive NHS treatment.

Reward schemes

Every insurance company has a member reward scheme offering rewards and discounts on various products and services. Some schemes provide the same rewards to every member, while others let you earn more by increasing your activity levels and hitting your health goals. Rewards typically include everything from discounted cinema tickets and free coffee to discounts on gym memberships and fitness tracking technology.

A health insurance broker can help you decide which insurance company offers the right scheme for your needs. For example, if you're fit and active (and can prove it), Vitality's reward scheme lets you earn more rewards. However, if you'd prefer not to track every step, your health insurance broker can offer advice on a suitable alternative.

6. Who do you want to include in your policy?

When you first speak with a health insurance broker, they'll ask about your family circumstances to guide you toward a suitable private health insurance policy. If you and your partner want health insurance, a couples' policy can reduce the price per head.

Your broker can also suggest cost-effective ways to add your children to your health insurance plan. Some insurers let you add all your children while only paying for the first one or include adult children who've left home, which could be ideal if you have a teenager about to head to university.

7. Brokers provide free and impartial advice

Insurance brokers don't charge for their services, meaning you get free advice when you use an insurance broker. Instead, insurance brokers work on a commission basis, meaning they receive payments from insurance companies when you buy a policy.

You might suspect brokers will encourage you to choose an insurance company that pays the best commission. However, their professional rules prevent this. The Financial Conduct Authority regulates every health insurance broker, meaning brokers must act in your best interest.

A regulated broker differs from a health insurance agent or a comparison website as they provide tailored advice from across the health insurance market. Agents can only recommend products from the company they represent. Comparison sites can show you various options but don't help you compare policy coverage, terms and conditions to help you understand the pros and cons of each policy.

8. Your broker has access to exclusive deals

While brokers must provide advice based on your best interests without favouring a particular insurance company, an experienced health insurance broker naturally builds relationships with different companies over time. This can give them access to the best deals and incentives unavailable to the general public.

Using a broker lets you benefit from lower prices or perks, such as a month's free cover when you first buy a policy. However, brokers must still ensure that the policy is the right choice for you regardless of any discounts.

9. Professional advice whenever you renew your policy

When you work with a broker, they're there as long as you need them. Most brokers will answer questions about your coverage, and some also provide claims assistance, especially for complex claims.

When your policy is due for renewal, they'll contact you to check that your existing policy still meets your needs or whether you need to make changes. Switching to a new provider can be complex, but a broker can explain your options and guide you through the process.

Getting professional advice

MyTribe guides help you learn more about health insurance, but they aren't a substitute for professional advice. Contact us for a comparison quote, and we'll introduce you to a regulated, high-quality broker for tailored advice.

Disclaimer: This information is general and what is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Please speak with a financial adviser or do your own research before making a decision.

This article was written by:
Kirsty France
Personal Finance and Healthcare Expert

Kirsty is a personal finance and healthcare expert who enjoys demystifying legal and insurance topics for a wider audience. She’s a former solicitor with a personal injury and insurance background.

Article reviewed by
Chris Steele
07 May 2024

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