If you're considering Vitality as your provider, this review should give you all the information you might need to make a smart, data-driven decision.
Here’s what we’ll go over:
- Vitality’s reputation
- Coverage basis (underwriting)
- Core cover
- Additional plan options
What is Vitality's reputation?
The first step in any assessment of a private health insurance provider has to be a deep look into the company’s background. It won’t make a difference if the promise is there but the provider of the product is not trustworthy.
In those terms, Vitality seems to tick all the boxes.
- They were awarded the title of “best individual provider” by the Cover Excellence Awards eight times since 2000 – in ‘07, ‘08, ‘10, ’15 and 2016
- Named as Best Personal Medical Insurance provider eight times in the last twenty years by Moneyfacts Investment
- 5 star Defaqto rating - five times since 2010 in a range of categories, from critical illness cover to life assurance (Defaqto is an independent company that compares financial products)
- They were among the top fifty UK companies for customer service in 2015 and 16 and got to the finals of the UK Customer Experience Awards in 2016
Awards aside, Vitality might not be for everyone. It’s important to take the time and look at the policies behind the awards.
The devil's in the detail, so let us move on to the specifics of the cover options you can get from Vitality Health.
Types/Basis of coverage (Underwriting)
Flexibility is important here. Choosing the underwriting basis is a crucial step in getting to what’s exactly right for you.
*underwriting is a term used in the industry to describe what information the company uses to assess your application
The three options are:
- Full underwriting – they will ask you questions about your medical history before they make an assessment. It’s based on you proving complete information.
- Moratorium based - allows you to cover pre-existing conditions starting from some point in the future. In other words, you disclose the condition but agree not to make claims related to it for a defined period. The condition is not covered for the defined period (typically two years) and is then added to your insurance plan.
- Continued personal medical exclusion – you currently have coverage but want to supplement that with Vitality. In the scenario, any exclusions you have will be carried.
Vitality Health Insurance Review – the plans
Your final Vitality Health plan will be a combination of the basic “Core cover” and additional options you choose.
These additional adjustments are precisely defined. They can either mean adding or excluding some parts of the Core cover.
The whole process can be split into two parts:
- deciding whether the Core plan suits what you need
- if yes, choosing to add/exclude options and adjust your premium.
What does Vitality health cover?
Your final Vitality Health plan will be a combination of their core plan and the additional options.
Understanding the Core plan is crucial if you do decide to go with Vitality as your provider. Once you’re clear on this, all-the add-on options become intuitive.
We found that most reviews out there are still too complicated for an average reader and did our best to rectify that. In the private medical insurance arena, more often than not, simplicity means clarity and is a good indicator that nothing is hidden in the small print. It's one of the key positive points that we've seen when analysing the reviews of people who are already chose Vitality Health.
Core cover explained
We’ll start with the broad areas and then explain what each one means:
- Primary care
- Day-patient and in-patient therapy
- Surgical out-patient procedures
- Mental health
- Cover system for advanced cancer
- Other benefits
First class service from start to finish, my advisor was extremely knowledgeable and took the time to fully understand my requirements before finding the best insurance policy for me.
What they mean
Primary care covers a broad spectrum of needs – from wellness and prevention to treatment. Let’s be specific:
Vitality GP and video consultations
Their approach here is in keeping with the changing times, which we liked from the get-go. It allows you to talk to a general practitioner of your choice using the Vitality GP app.
You can use GP video to talk to your doctor and even safely upload images to get help without meeting anybody face-to-face.
In cases where this is not an option, you have the right to a minimum of two meetings with your GP at the price of £20 per meeting.
Private prescriptions & tests
If your GP writes a private prescription you can choose whether you want it sent to your home address or a Lloyds Pharmacy of your choice. You can also have minor diagnostic tests done.
Vitality will cover up to £100 of the two combined per year (most prescriptions and minor tests).
Pathway of further treatment and wellness
Your Vitality GP has access to all the relevant information they need to make decisions and can offer recommendations based on just the one consultation.
This one seems obvious but it’s not a given for all providers. With a poorly chosen health insurance product, you can find yourself making an additional claim for the referral.
Full cover of day-patient and in-patient therapy
Vitality will pay any physician fees as long as they are accredited and Vitality recognizes the accreditation. In layman terms, this covers most specialists.
Coverage of any hospital fees, ranging from the stay, drugs, intensive care, operating theatre, and nursing.
Whether you’re admitted as a day or in-patient, all eligible tests will be covered – from basic bloodwork to x-ray, CT, PET, and MRI scans.
Full cover of out-patient surgical procedures
You might also know this one as same-day or ambulatory surgery. It extends to all surgical interventions that don’t require an overnight stay.
NHS Hospital Cash benefit – you can choose to get treatment through NHS and claim cash for it.
Childbirth Cash benefit – this one applies once 10 months have passed from the coverage start date. Any parent gets £100 per child. If both you and your spouse happen to be covered by the Core plan, you can each claim the money.
Full coverage of home nursing – this one is self-explanatory. If the GP proposes home nursing after a hospital stay, Vitality will pay for the service.
Private ambulance – ambulance transportation between hospitals is fully covered by your insurance policy, given that a consultant deems it necessary.
Parent hospital stay – if your child (under 14) is covered by a Vitality health insurance plan and they’re admitted to a hospital for an overnight treatment, your private medical insurance will cover the costs of your stay.
Oral surgery - this one is pretty broad and it covers a range of surgical options – from the removal of buried roots, problematic teeth, and jaw cysts to apicectomy (root end surgery).
Pregnancy problems/complications – extends to a range of pregnancy complications including miscarriages, missed abortions, postpartum bleeding, retained placenta, abnormal growth of a fertilized egg (hydatidiform mole), ectopic pregnancy, and stillbirth.
Mental health – if the mental health panel makes the assessment that you’d benefit from Cognitive Behavioural therapy, Vitality offers to cover the cost of up to 8 sessions.
Rehabilitation – offers cover in the case of serious brain injury or a stroke. Rehabilitation costs are covered for a maximum of 21 days right after the end date of your in-patient therapy.
Extended Cancer cover
Vitality’s Core plan extensively covers full treatment costs that might arise from a cancer diagnosis, even stem cell therapy.
We won’t get into the technicalities of each procedure and treatment covered; it would make for a difficult and complicated read. It also wouldn’t mean much to you if you're not already familiar with the terms.
In short, the insurance policy defined by the extended coverage allows their clients not to worry about money when facing the most difficult of challenges.
This is probably the one thing that stand out the most about the basic cover. It's not common for an insurance company in UK to offer this type of full-cover promise when it comes to cancer.
This one is far from a given under basic plans. Core cover allows for both corrective and weight loss surgery with a 25% contribution cost.
Not all interventions are covered and, if this is a decision point for you, we recommend going over it in detail on their website.
Options to choose from when tailoring your final plan
As we said early on, the Core plan is the foundation and it was our primary objective to clarify it. The additional options are more granular in definitions with precise patient cover rules.
Choosing which of these you apply to the Core cover will ultimately define both your plan and premiums.
Out-patient options – you can choose to add either full coverage or set a limit for out-patient treatment
CT, PET, and MRI – if you add this option, all of the eligible scans will be paid in full (without taking away from the out-patient limit if you have one)
Physiotherapy – you have two options here, to either add physiotherapy limited to Vitality’s network of recognized practitioners or include those outside of it. Perhaps “limit” is not the right word because their UK network lists 1,400 clinics. In most reviews we've seen, it was more than enough.
We would say that going wider and including physicians outside of the network would only happen in extraordinary circumstances – i.e. if you want to be treated by a specific physician and they happen not to be recognized by Vitality.
The second option also counts toward your outpatient costs and it has an upper limit of £35 per session.
Diagnostics (out-patient) - this is an upgrade to the out-patient add-on. Opting for it means that all diagnostics costs are covered in full and no changes are made to the other out-patient limits (consultations and physiotherapy).
Psychiatrist – covers up to £15,000 or £20,000 per year.
Therapies – this is a pretty wide add-on and it includes osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy, podiatry, chiropractic treatment, and a dietitian.
You can opt for either full or limited coverage (up to £350).
Cancer treatment – allows you to adjust the level of cancer cover defined in the Core plan. It will lower the premium but set some limits on the level of cover.
Major and routine dental cover
Under the additional dental cover you can choose between two plans:
- major interventions
- major and routine interventions
The difference between the two is self-explanatory. One offer covers major work like crowns, extractions, dentures, etc. while the other also covers routine checkups and procedures.
We’d say that the most important difference between the two offers is that “major and routine” covers fillings.
Both plans have clearly defined limits, both per claim and per plan year.
Worldwide travel cover
Adding travel cover to your Vitality health plan will give you a comprehensive cover for a range of travel-related mishaps.
Besides health insurance, it extends to expenses that might arise from things like travel delays or passport loss.
The time limit is 120 days per year. There are also limits set for each scenario – down to things like losing your ski pass.
Vitality points - rewards for healthy living
In the reviews we've seen, the rewards system is talked about just as often as the patient cover.
The system works by rewarding Vitality members for making healthy lifestyle choices, especially being active. You register for the program, get active, track it in your "member zone" and earn Vitality points.
You can then spend the points on rewards that range from a free coffee to amazon prime subscription or an Apple watch. As you earn more points you get a higher Vitality status - you start of with a bronze status and earn your way to silver, gold and platinum. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the better the rewards become.
It's an intelligent way to promote healthy living and, for us, it changes the perception of private healthcare. Sure, it is a business and it's in their interest that you don't make a claim. We feel that doesn't take away from the fact that it's a good mechanism to motivate you to take care of yourself.
Pricing policy, cancellations & pre-existing conditions
The pricing policy of Vitality health insurance is based on a system they call ABC - stands for Age, Base rate, Claim and engagement. Premiums are typically defined on per month basis.
Explaining the model in detail is beyond the scope of the review and we feel that Vitality did a great job with that on their website. We recommend giving that a thorough read - it's clearly written with real-world examples.
Can you cancel Vitality health insurance?
Yes, you can cancel by phone or online.
They do have options that cover pre-existing condition but the cover level is limited,. To be fair, this is true for most UK providers.
So, is Vitality health any good?
In our opinion, Vitality strikes just the right balance between cost and benefits in their offers.
The positives we've seen when gathering data for this analysis outweigh any issues by far.
The core cover is well-rounded and the additional policies seem flexible enough to cover most needs. The limits are fair and, just as importantly, clearly communicated.
We especially liked the rewards system. It's refreshing to see a company with a well-thought out approach to prevention.
We'll do our best to stay on top of things and regularly update this analysis to keep the information relevant.
For more general information be sure to read our article about the best health insurance in the UK.