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National Friendly health insurance – is it the best choice?

Want to learn more about National Friendly? Here's our thoughts on their health insurance policies and how you can save money

A photo of Dom Limberg, the author

By Dom Limberg

Published on: 18 October 2023

12 min read

National Friendly health insurance – is it the best choice?

As someone who’s often reviewing health insurance policies, it’s refreshing to find one as simple and understandable as what National Friendly have to offer.

The website isn’t over complicated, they don’t have a huge complex range of policies but they do try their best to deliver good quality cover – which is all we can really ask for. Of course, National Friendly isn’t going to work for everybody and you might prefer what another insurer has to offer which is fine.

I’m here to explain a bit more about who National Friendly are, what they do and if they’re providing good value for money for UK consumers. Hopefully by the end of this guide, you should have a better feel for if National Friendly is a good fit for you.

I’d always recommend doing a bit of research yourself before committing to a new insurance policy, so you can be confident in your decision. National Friendly may seem great, but it’s definitely a good idea to check out what other insurers are offering as well.

QUICK SUMMARY – National Friendly health insurance review

National Friendly are well reviewed by their customers and provide a choice of 4 simple options for health insurance cover. Buying health insurance can often be complicated and confusing, which is why I find National Friendly’s more stripped back approach refreshing.

  • National Friendly’s 4 policies are based on ‘levels of cover’ and what you are most concerned about protecting yourself against. You have level 1 which focuses on fast diagnosis, level 2 which puts more focus into treatment options, level 3 which is similar to level 1 (but with more cover) and on level 4 which is the most comprehensive.
  • There are also some additional benefits to National Friendly such as virtual GP services and the promise that your claims history won’t affect how much you pay for at least five years.
  • There will be some cons to national friendly (admittedly they don’t offer as many extra perks and discounts as certain other providers e.g. Vitality). If this is your main concern, you’re probably better looking at another provider for your health cover.
  • Though National friendly’s product range is pretty simple, you might still have questions about how it works and if it will be right for you. My best suggestion would be to talk to a health insurance specialist for proper advice and guidance.

Chances are you’ve not heard of smaller providers like National Friendly before or you don’t know that much about them. They may not be a huge name like Aviva or AXA, but they have been providing health cover in the UK for over 150 years.

While you should definitely take the time to do some research and form your own opinions, there are a few main points about national friendly that could make them appealing for consumers:

  • 4 simple cover options to make things easier to understand (even more useful if you’ve never bought health insurance before)
  • Option to add up to 10 children to your policy (if they all live at the same address)
  • Good customer ratings (currently 4.6 out of 5.0 stars on TrustPilot)
  • No price increases based on claims for the first 5 years of your policy

It’s tough to say whether National Friendly would work better for you than another provider because everyone’s situation is different. National Friendly will be a great option for some people and not others. This is why I’d always suggest shopping around and having a look at a few different options to make sure you’re 100% happy with the insurance provider that you’ve chosen.

There are some brilliant options for private medical insurance in the UK with other providers such as:

I would say national friendly is a great option 4 consumers have never bought health insurance before and want simple and easy to understand cover options.

or the providers often have several different policies to choose from and various add-ons and extras which can make things a little confusing. that’s not to say it isn’t worth seeing what those providers have to offer, as they could still be good options for you.

How much does National Friendly health insurance cost?

One of the key things that most consumers will want to know before buying health insurance is how much they can expect to pay. To be honest this is a hard question to answer in that everybody will pay slightly different prices.

This is because health insurance pricing is based on factors like:

  • Your age
  • Your post code (where you live)
  • Amount of excess
  • Claims history
  • Level of cover

Because everyone’s circumstances will be slightly different, you could pay a completely different price to someone with the exact same policy as you.

Are National Friendly policies worth the money?

Whether you believe National Friendly policies are worth the money is realistically a personal opinion. Some National Friendly customers may feel they’re getting great deal and all those may be considering making switch to a new provider (absolutely fine to do, by the way).

What I will say is that National Friendly does offer a good range of core benefits and features within their cover and are highly rated by their customers (4.6 out of 5.0 stars).

How can I save money on National Friendly health insurance?

Don’t worry if your budget is a little bit tighter, there are some easy ways that you can save money on health insurance. Here are some of my top tips to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to:

  • Consider a lower level of cover – think carefully about how much cover you need and whether you really want to pay out for benefits that you may not even use. If you can get away with a slightly lower level of cover this could help you save money.
  • Pay more excess – as with other types of insurance (e.g. car insurance) you will need to pay excess when you claim on a health insurance policy. Ihis is an amount that you’ve pre arranged with your insurance provider and if you agree to a higher amount this can lower the cost of your monthly payments. Be careful though, make sure the amount you agreed to is still affordable for you.
  • Shop around – I’m always going to suggest checking prices across multiple providers, because this is the easiest way to work out where you’re going to get the best deal.

One thing that can be frustrating is when insurers make things overly complicated for their customers when it’s really not necessary. I like National Friendly approach where they’ve really simplified their health insurance options.

National Friendly has one health insurance product (National Friendly My PMI) which gives you four options for the level of cover that you need, so you can choose what’s right for you.

Here’s some more details about what each level of cover would include:

Level 1 coverLevel 2 coverLevel 3 coverLevel 4 cover
Strong focus on quick diagnosis
Good choice of hospital lists
Outpatient cover Private GP access
Cover for scans and tests
Therapies cover
Cover for specified minor operations
Good choice of hospital lists
Cancer treatments and operations
Outpatient cover
Day patient cover
In patient cover
Choice of excess  
Good choice of hospital lists
Outpatient cover
Private GP access
Cover for scans and tests
Therapies cover
Cover for specified minor operations
Up to £1million cover per year for day patient/inpatient treatment
Good choice of hospital lists
Outpatient cover
Private GP access
Cover for scans and tests
Therapies cover
Cover for specified minor operations
Unlimited cover per year for day patient/inpatient treatment
Extra benefts e.g. bone marrow treatments

National Friendly only sell one type of health insurance which is their my PMI policies. However, if you really like National Friendly and you’re interested in other types of cover they do sell various other policies and products like:

Type of policyNational Friendly Private Medical Insurance
Policy optionsNational Friendly My PMI – Level 1
National Friendly My PMI – Level 2
National Friendly My PMI – Level 3
National Friendly My PMI – Level 4
What is included in my policy?This is what you can claim for with National Friendly My PMI policies:  

One face to face
Private GP consultation per year (up to £100)
Specialist diagnostic consultations (out patient cover)
Specified diagnostic tests
Additional therapies e.g. physiotherapy/podiatry/chiropody
Initial psychiatric assessment and up to 10 face to face counselling/ psychotherapy sessions
Specified minor surgeries (following referral from your GP)
Women’s health benefit (pays for menopause associated consultations up to £300 per consultation) – 3 consultations every 5 years
Men’s health benefit (pays for prostate specific antigen tests and associated tests up to £300 per consultation) – 3 consultations every 5 years
Second medical opinions (need to be authorised by National Friendly)
Medical prosthesis and appliances In patient and day patient costs (private hospitals)
Follow up appointments and monitoring
Specified dental procedures
NHS Overnight stay benefit (level 2-4) and fixed cash allowances
Private ambulance (only when necessary)
Specified pregnancy and childbirth complications, heart treatments and reconstructive surgeries
Extensive cancer cover
Palliative care (Level 4 members only)  

Note: If there are restrictions they will be explained fully in your policy terms and conditions. 
Is there anything National Friendly won’t cover?There are some medical situations and conditions that National Friendly will not pay out for including:  

Emergency medical treatment
Treatment of substance abuse and addiction
Age related medical conditions
Pre existing medical conditions, congenital conditions or chronic medical conditions
Allergies
Corrective medical treatment
Complementary medicines
Treatment of developmental conditions
Dialysis
Elective or experimental treatments
Fertility treatments
Out patient medication and treatments
In patient or day patient mental health treatment
Gender dysphoria or reassignment
Overseas medical treatment
Vaccinations and other preventative treatments
Self inflicted injuries
Injuries as a result of criminal activity or specified sporting activities
Sleep disorder treatments
Weight loss treatments 
How long does National Friendly health insurance cover you for?National Friendly policies will cover you for 5 years from when you buy your policy – your monthly premiums can still change each year.
Where can I claim for medical treatment with National Friendly?National Friendly will only pay out for medical treatment within the UK.
Levels of cover availableEach of National Friendly’s cover ‘levels’ will offer varying amounts of cover.  
Level 1 will usually be cheapest, through to Level 4 which should offer the highest level of cover.
When will I pay for National Friendly health insurance?You can pay monthly or annually for your health insurance cover.

What is National Friendly’s cancer cover like?           

I personally will always check a health insurance provider’s cancer treatment cover before anything else. This is because like millions of other people in the UK, I have a notable family history of cancer. As my chances of developing cancer are higher, this would be a main priority for me within health insurance cover – and I’m sure many other consumers will feel the same way.

The cancer cover available for you with National Friendly will depend on which level of cover you choose.

Level 1 – Only covers cancer diagnosis

Level 2 – Covers diagnostic scans and tests and limited cover for chemotherapy/radiotherapy

Level 3 – includes cover for diagnosis (within your annual cover limits) and up to £1million worth of cover for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological therapies

Level 4 – Unlimited cover for diagnosis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, biological therapies, bone marrow and stem cell therapies

Does National Friendly cover pre-existing medical conditions?

Sadly, National Friendly won’t cover you for pre-existing medical conditions or long term medical issues. This definitely feels unfair but it’s normal within health insurance and you’re unlikely to find an insurer that will cover pre-existing conditions of standard.

You’re still absolutely fine to apply for National Friendly health insurance if you already have medical conditions, you just won’t be able to claim for treating them. You can use National Friendly to access private healthcare for medical issues that crop up after your policy has been bought.

What are the pros and cons of National Friendly health insurance?

ProCon
High levels of cover and minimal amount of exclusions (things you can’t claim for)No option available for unlimited outpatient cover (is available with other providers)
Simple cover options with one policy type and 4 cover ‘levels’ to choose fromDiagnostic scans like MRI or CT scans will come out of your outpatient limit when claiming
No increase in price based on claims made (for the first 5 years)You won’t be covered for pre-existing medical conditions or long term medical conditions

One of the perks of dealing with a smaller business like National Friendly is that it’s usually much easier to get hold of them when you need to.

National Friendly keep things nice and easy for their customers with one main contact number, so you don’t have to second guess if you’re calling the right department.

National Friendly contact details

Tel. 0333 014 6244

Email: info@nationalfriendly.co.uk

Opening hours: 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday (not including Bank Holidays)

Post:

National Friendly,

11-12 Queen Square,

Bristol,

Is it easy to claim on National Friendly health insurance?

Something that I find frustrating about certain insurance providers is when they make it overly complicated to claim. The whole point of health insurance is to help cover costs of private medical care, so the last thing you want if you’re unwell is to be fighting through confusing processes with your insurance company.

The steps to claim with National Friendly actually are quite simple which is great, as all you need to do is:

  1. Get an open referral from your GP for the treatment that you need
  2. Contact National Friendly online or over the phone to get your claim approved
  3. Choose from your chosen list of hospitals and specialists or be given a shortlist of recommendations (guided option)
  4. Have the treatment you need in National Friendly will sort the bill for you

How do I cancel National Friendly health insurance?

Believe it or not you know tide into insurance policies indefinitely and you’ve always got the option to cancel at any point. If you’re unhappy with National Friendly and you don’t want your cover to continue, just get in touch with them.

You can call their main contact number (they only have the one) or submit an online inquiry via their website. One thing to be aware of is that unless you cancel within the initial 30 day cooling off period, you’ll lose the money you’ve already paid.

How do I complain about National Friendly health insurance?

I know that not everyone’s going to enjoy complaining (I certainly don’t) but you’re always allowed to complain if you feel your insurance provider hasn’t lived up to expectations.

If you aren’t happy with National Friendly’s customer service or policies, they have procedures in place for if you want to submit a complaint. They say on their website that they aim to have all complaints resolved within eight weeks – though they’ll try to fix things before this.

If you feel like they’re taking too long or you’re just not happy with the outcome, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) for extra advice and support. They are an independent organisation whose main aim is to help resolve issues between businesses like national friendly and their customers.

National Friendly complaints contact details

Email – complaints@nationalfriendly.co.uk

Online – National Friendly – Contact Us

Financial Ombudsman Service contact details

Tel. 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Tel. 0207 964 0500 (overseas)

Should I read National Friendly health insurance reviews?

I definitely suggest readings and customer reviews before you commit to buying a new insurance policy. It’s not something that everyone will do and you don’t have to but I do think it can be very helpful.

Independent customer reviews can give you a feeling for if an insurance provider is generally liked or if there are any problems that seem to be cropping up a lot. The best place to find independent reviews would be websites like TrustPilot who are well known for highlighting consumer reviews.

National Friendly actually do really well on Trustpilot with a rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.

National Friendly Insurance (TrustPilot score) – 4.6 out of 5.0 stars (with 179 reviews)

% of 5 star reviews – 95% of reviews rated National Friendly 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 4 star reviews – 2% of reviews rated National Friendly 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 3 star reviews – 0% of reviews rated National Friendly 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 2 star reviews – 0% of reviews rated National Friendly 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 1 star reviews – 3% of reviews rated National Friendly 1.0 out of 5.0 stars

(These figures are from 17/10/2023 and National Friendly’s customer rating may change over time)

How do I buy health insurance from National Friendly?

There are a couple of different ways to get a health insurance policy from national friendly.

You have two convenient options:

  1. Apply online through National Friendly’s website, or over the phone
  2. Reach out to a health insurance specialist for a helping hand

Choosing the perfect health insurance plan and provider can be a big decision and not one that should be taken lightly. I’d say if you’re not 100% sure of which provider or policy would be right for you, it’s worth getting the extra advice.

To learn more about National Friendly (and health insurance in general), you can talk to our trusted health insurance partner on 0800 009 6559 or click here.

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