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The Exeter health insurance – is it a good option for health cover?

Here's all the main facts about The Exeter health insurance including policy features, potential issues and what you can (and can't) claim for

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 29 November 2023

18 min read

The Exeter health insurance – a good option for health cover?

The Exeter isn’t the most well known health insurance provider in the UK, but they are steadily growing in popularity with UK consumers. They now have more than 90,000 customers across the country and this number is rising quickly.

They have a lot to offer to their customers with a range of brilliant (and free!) benefits like post-operative physiotherapy, 24/7 virtual GP access and even cash pay outs for NHS hospital stays.

In this latest MPO review, we’re going to cover everything you could possibly want to know about The Exeter and their health insurance policies. This includes all the most popular benefits and features, as well as some potential issues you might want to watch out for.

It’s always a smart move to think carefully and do some research before choosing a new health insurance provider. There’s a range of options available, which can admittedly be a bit confusing if you’re not too sure what you want. However, it does mean that if The Exeter doesn’t feel quite right, there are some great alternatives ready and waiting for you.

QUICK SUMMARY – The Exeter health insurance – is it a good option for health cover?

The Exeter is an award-winning UK health insurance provider that are becoming more and more popular with UK consumers who want high quality healthcare without needing to pay ridiculous prices.

  • The Exeter is a specialist insurance provider and their health insurance policies have a strong level of core cover – plus additional benefits to add on for more coverage.
  • There are 3 choices for The Exeter health insurance hospital lists (Essentials, Standard and Extended) to appeal to customers with different budgets and needs for their healthcare. You could choose ‘guided’ cover instead, which lowers the cost by giving you a shortlist of specialists when you need to claim.
  • As with most health insurance policies, you usually won’t be able to claim for the treatment of chronic (long term) or pre-existing medical conditions. This is disappointing but pretty standard for health insurance and not specific to The Exeter policies.
  • If you have more questions about health insurance or how The Exeter works, it can be helpful to speak to a health insurance expert for free advice.

The Exeter is a newer insurance provider who has come into the industry with a lot to prove, and they have certainly made an impression. They are well known for providing life insurance to applicants with medical conditions who would usually be declined with other insurers.

They also have a solid range of health insurance policies that offer decent core cover plus the ability to add on extra benefits for a higher level of protection. The Exeter is a mutual company with no shareholders to pay, so all their profits go straight back into improving services and products for their customers.

The easiest way to work out why The Exeter health insurance is becoming more popular is by looking at what current customers of The Exeter have to say in customer reviews and feedback. You can read The Exeter health insurance reviews on the independent consumer review site TrustPilot.

Many of The Exeter’s TrustPilot reviews note the professional service and personal touch with communications that The Exeter uses. Other customers also liked the fact that The Exeter is a mutual society, which means they use the payments received from their members to benefit other Exeter customers and not faceless shareholders.

More key phrases that appeared a lot on The Exeter’s TrustPilot review page include:

  • Good value for money
  • Excellent service
  • Professional service
  • Simple processes

Of course, as with any type of business there will be a few negative reviews, but those for The Exeter are mostly positive. The smaller percentage of negative reviews focused on slower pay out times and issues with the claims process. It is good to see though that The Exeter do respond to all the negative comments and do what they can to resolve the issue.

There are a few simple reasons why The Exeter health insurance might be an appealing choice for UK consumers. While I can’t say whether you will think that The Exeter is ‘good’ or not, some of the most common reasons that UK consumers choose The Exeter for health cover include:

  • Flexible policies and the option to add on extra benefits for a higher level of cover
  • Choice of three hospital lists which vary in price and level of cover to suit different budgets
  • Unlimited day patient and in patient treatment cover
  • Full cover for cancer treatments after diagnosis through to recovery
  • £150 cash pay out per night if you need to stay in an NHS hospital (can claim for 30 nights maximum)

They have recently updated their policies with a new low cost option known as Health+ guided. They have advertised with fun branding and photos of drinks cans and the promise their policies are ‘refreshingly affordable’.

The Exeter is a newer insurance provider, but certainly one that is worth thinking about as they do include some great benefits with their policies. You can claim for things like CT, MRI and PET scans, home nursing costs, post-operative physiotherapy (only three sessions though) and much more.

However, it’s really important to know that like many other health insurance providers there are specific things that The Exeter won’t cover or pay out for. For example, in most cases you won’t be able to claim for treatment of any conditions that you had before buying your policy.

This might feel unfair but unfortunately it’s standard across health insurance providers, and it’s rare to find one that will cover pre-existing and long-term medical conditions. There are a few other common health issues and situations that The Exeter won’t pay out for such as:

  • Health issues related to pregnancy
  • Cosmetic surgeries or weight loss treatments
  • Emergency treatment (e.g. A&E visits)
  • GP visits and optical or dental treatments

I’m not telling you this to put you off choosing The Exeter, as it’s really common for insurance providers to list specific situations in which they won’t pay out. These terms and conditions make it clear from the start what you are entitled to claim for, and this is why it’s so important to read your policy documents carefully when you buy health insurance.

Note: The above list of policy exclusions (situations where the insurer won’t pay out) only mentions a few examples. You will be able to find a full list of policy exclusions later in this guide and within your own policy documents.

Realistically one of your main questions is going to be whether you should buy health insurance from the Exeter or think about looking elsewhere.

I fully believe that you can do both and I’d suggest shopping around and checking quotes from a few providers, even if you’re pretty sure The Exeter is who you’re going to choose. It’s always better to have the full picture and to know all your options, in case another provider can offer the same benefits to you for a lower price.

 If you’re unsure about The Exeter, it might help you to look at some independent customer reviews such as those found on TrustPilot. The Exeter has thousands of customers in the UK and many of them speak highly of the service and policies they’ve received from The Exeter.

Though they only have 746 reviews* so far, 75% of these customers rated The Exeter as 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. This gives The Exeter a TrustPilot ‘Excellent’ rating with an overall score of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars.

Note:* This is the number of customer reviews for The Exeter on TrustPilot as of 28/11/2023.

Private health insurance policies are designed to help you cover the cost of private medical treatments if you become injured or unwell. As private medical care in the UK can be quite expensive, insurance is a popular choice for people who want a high standard of care, but don’t want to pay sky high prices.

The Exeter’s health insurance products are fairly simple and here is a quick summary of how these policies work for you:

Policy typeThe Exeter Health+ health insurance
Policy optionsThe Exeter Health+ (standard cover)
The Exeter Health+ (guided specialist cover)
Range of policiesIndividual health insurance
What is included in my policy?You will be able to claim for:  

In patient or day patient medical treatment (unlimited cover)
Cancer treatment and consultations
CT, MRI and PET scans
Out patient surgery
Private ambulance and home nursing costs
Parental accommodation benefit (if a child under 18 is staying in hospital overnight)
Post operative physiotherapy (up to 3 sessions)
NHS cash benefit (£150 per night for nights spent in an NHS hospital, up to 30 nights max)
£250 hospice donation (if you are admitted for care)
Is there anything The Exeter won’t cover?The Exeter will not accept or pay out for claims for:  

Any specific exclusions set out in your policy documents
Pre-existing medical conditions (unless agreed by The Exeter)
Treatment of long term medical conditions (not including cancer)
Convalescence
Rehabilitation
Weight loss surgery and other cosmetic surgeries
Suicide attempts
Self inflicted injuries
Treatment caused by alcohol or drug abuse
Emergency treatment (e.g. A&E visits)
Experimental medical treatment
Specified out patient drugs and treatments
Health issues related to pregnancy
Preventative care or treatment
Professional sports injuries
Dialysis
Gender affirming surgeries
Elective treatment
Sight/hearing/dental treatment
GP, optician, dentist treatments
Treatments that take place in a nursing home
Overseas medical treatments
Mental health treatment and care (unless added)  
How long does The Exeter health insurance cover you for?Your cover will last for 12 months from the date you buy your policy, with the option to renew it for another year.
Where can I claim for medical treatment with The Exeter?The Exeter will only pay out for treatment within the UK (not including Channel Islands or the Isle of Man).
Levels of cover availableYou can reduce costs by opting for guided cover, which limits your choice of specialists.  
You can increase cover by paying to add on extra benefits like:  

Mental health cover
Enhanced out patient cover
Unlimited out patient diagnostics cover
Additional therapies cover
When will I pay for The Exeter health insurance?You have the option of paying monthly or annually for your cover.

Honestly nobody ‘needs’ health insurance and most people will consider this a luxury expense and not something that is essential in the way that utility bills for example are. It’s impossible not to notice the struggles of the NHS at the moment though, which explains why more people are keen to have a backup in place like health insurance.

Policies from companies like The Exeter help to make private healthcare more accessible for people who aren’t on higher wages. While it is a monthly (or annual) cost that would need he budgeted for, a lot of UK consumers believe now that it’s worth the price to know they won’t be stuck in long NHS queues if they need treatment.

One of the main reasons many people choose to buy health insurance is because they are worried about the risk of developing cancer and what treatment would be available if this happened. I know this would be a priority for me and I’m sure many consumers feel the same way.

Whenever I review health insurance providers, one of the first things I will look at is what their level of cancer care is like and how they measure up to other insurers in this area.

The Exeter claims to take cancer care very seriously and offers full cover for all stages of cancer treatment. This includes access to drugs and treatments not yet available on the NHS. I would say The Exeter does fall slightly behind other providers such as AXA Health in this area though, as other insurers will also provide benefits like:

  • Payments to cover the cost of wigs or prosthetics
  • Options for at home chemotherapy treatment (where appropriate)
  • Extra support services and dedicated cancer support teams

If cancer is your main concern and you want a lot of additional support, it may be worth comparing quotes from other providers too. This will help you to work out which insurer has all the benefits you need for the price that best suits what you can afford to pay.

Something that is interesting about The Exeter is that the company is owned by its members – its members being all of The Exeter’s customers. You automatically become a member once you buy a policy with The Exeter and this an approach that several insurance companies use.

This system is a selling point that The Exeter highlights prominently on their website and with good reason. I think this is a great approach for insurance companies to have, as removing the need to pay out to investors or shareholders means there is more money free to invest back into better products for the customers.

As a member of The Exeter, you’d also have the chance to have your say on issues that would affect the business and you can be as involved as you would like to be.

A question that pops up a lot online is if The Exeter is a part of AXA Health, one of the UK’s biggest health insurance providers.

This is a bit of a complicated one to answer, as the answer is both yes and no. The Exeter and AXA Health are completely independent of each other and actually compete for customers.

AXA Health took over managing The Exeter’s private medical insurance claims processing back in November 2016, but this doesn’t mean that a policy from The Exeter is actually from AXA. The Exeter will still be your insurer and it is still The Exeter that you would contact about claims.

The Exeter chose to hand over control of claims to AXA in a move to provide a better service to customers, which is something we can definitely get behind. Now they have access to AXA’s resources, it means that The Exeter health insurance customers can claim more easily due to longer opening hours on evenings and weekends.

More about AXA – AXA Health insurance – does it offer good value for money?

The Exeter’s policies work in a similar way to most other UK health insurance providers, and you have to make 4 decisions when you apply for The Exeter Health+ policies:

  1. If you would like traditional or ‘guided specialist cover. The guided option allows you to still get good quality cover but limits your choices for treatment to a recommended shortlist. This does decrease the price though and can be helpful if your budget is lower.
  2. If you opt for standard cover, you need to choose which The Exeter hospital list you would like for your policy. You can have The Exeter’s Essential, Standard or Extended hospital list. The list you choose affects the price you pay and how many specialists you have access to.
  3. Choose if you want fast (moratorium) underwriting which prevents claims for pre-existing conditions. Your other option is full medical underwriting, which looks at your medical history which can be cheaper but the process will take longer.
  4. Choose how much excess you are happy to pay if you need to claim. You should choose an amount that is affordable for you and The Exeter’s options are £0, £100, £250, £500, £1,000, £3,000 or £5,000.

You will need to pay for your policy (either monthly or annually) for your cover to remain in place and you will have access to customer benefits alongside your health cover. Some of the main extra benefits of The Exeter health insurance are:

  • £150 cash pay outs for every night you stay in an NHS hospital (up to 30 days maximum) meaning you could receive up to £4,500 for long hospital stays
  • Use of The Exeter’s free HealthWise App for remote GP appointments and mental health support
  • Parent accommodation benefit if a child under 18 requires in patient hospital treatment
  • No limits to cover for in patient or day patient treatments so you don’t need to worry about hitting a limit if you need to claim several times within a year

I personally think it’s worthwhile to go through the full medical underwriting process when you buy health insurance. If you agree to the insurer looking at your medical history when you buy your policy, it can make it quicker and easier to claim in the future.

They will also be able to pinpoint straight away whether there are any health issues that they won’t pay out for, so you know exactly where you stand and don’t waste time on failed claims.

Some people won’t want to do this which is fair and might prefer to choose the faster (standard moratorium) application process. The Exeter won’t look at your medical records when you apply, so your cover will be approved more quickly. Be aware, the claims process can be longer here, as The Exeter will want to check whether or not you’ve had symptoms of this problem within the last two years.

There isn’t one set price for the accident health insurance policies as every application will be assessed individually. this means you might pay a completely different price to someone else you know with an Exeter policy, based on factors that are specific to you such as:

  • Your age
  • Your postcode (prices for private healthcare vary across the UK)
  • How much cover you want
  • How much excess you will pay
  • Type of underwriting (if The Exeter looks at your medical history when you apply)
  • Any extra benefits you want to add

Don’t worry, there are a few simple ways to reduce the cost of health insurance such as reducing your level of cover or agreeing to pay more excess.

Everyone wants to get the best possible value for money when they buy a policy like health insurance, especially with the UK in a cost-of-living crisis. The Exeter does seem to offer fair value for money to their customers – in fact ‘good value for money’ is a phrase that appeared many times within their customer reviews.

However, when thinking about if the price of an insurance product is ‘worth it’, you need to look at your own situation and what is important to you. You need to consider:

  • Your budget (is The Exeter fairly priced or slightly more than you were wanting to pay?)
  • Would you use all the extra benefits that The Exeter offers e.g. Online GP services?
  • Do any other providers offer the same policy features (and more) for a lower price?

I’d always suggest thinking carefully about each of these questions and comparing what is available from a few insurers before making any decisions. It can also be helpful to talk to a health insurance specialist, if you aren’t sure whether The Exeter is your best option for health insurance.

It’s always helpful to know what number or email address to contact if you have any questions or issues with your policy. There are a few numbers and email addresses available on The Exeter’s website for both current and new customers. We’ve listed all of these below to make things simpler for you.

The Exeter health insurance contact details

Tel. 0300 123 3201 (current customers)

Email – member@the-exeter.com (current customers)

Tel. 0300 123 3201 (general enquiries)

Email – enquiries@the-exeter.com (general enquiries)

Post:

The Exeter,
Lakeside House,
Emperor Way,
Exeter,
EX1 3FD

If you want to speak to someone at The Exeter, it’s definitely helpful to know when you can get in touch. You can call The Exeter’s health insurance contact numbers during their opening hours to speak to a member of their health insurance team.

The opening hours for The Exeter’s health insurance team are:

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

On the surface it does seem pretty simple to be able to claim on The Exeter health insurance policies. The process is similar even if you choose ‘guided’ cover rather than a traditional policy. To claim on The Exeter health insurance you will need to:

  • See your own GP and either receive a referral for a preferred specialist or ask for an open referral (guided cover)
  • Call The Exeter to start your claim and you can then accept your GP’s referral or choose another specialist. If you have chosen guided cover, you will be given up to 3 recommended specialists to choose from
  • You then have your treatment and The Exeter will pay the bill for you (minus your excess)

You can call or email The Exeter to claim or fill in the simple The Exeter health insurance claims form online which you can see an image of below. The Exeter will want to call you to process your claim and allow you to select a suitable date and time slot.

A screenshot of The Exeter's online health insurance claims form

In The Exeter’s TrustPilot reviews there were negative reviews which mentioned issues with claiming on The Exeter policies. While this might be alarming or off putting, it’s important to remember:

  1. The Exeter’s TrustPilot page includes reviews for all products including life insurance and income protection insurance and so some of the claims issues may be with other products
  2. There can be valid reasons for slower claims pay outs (or declined pay outs), so The Exeter may not be fully at fault for any problems – reviews will generally give one side of the story

If you are worried that The Exeter is unlikely to pay out, looking at other sources like their claims statistics can help give you a fully balanced view. It’s important to have all of the information before completely writing off The Exeter as an option.

If you have other policies like car insurance, you’re probably familiar with the idea of no claims discount. This is where an insurer will reward you for not claiming during the policy year by reducing the cost of your cover.

Health insurance providers like the Exeter will apply No Claims Discount, but it can be a bit complicated to understand from a consumer point of view. To put things simply, there are 15 levels for The Exeter No Claims Discount and each level relates to one policy year.

Here’s a quick example of how this works taken from The Exeter’s health insurance product guide:

As you can see you could benefit from up to 75% off the cost of your cover, but admittedly you’d have to have your policy and not claim for at least 15 years to get the full discount. I know I personally would be questioning whether health insurance was worth it if I had not claimed on my cover in 15 years. It’s very possible many people won’t get the full level of discount, but even lower levels of discount could be useful in reducing costs.

You also have the potential to drop one or more levels within a policy year based on the claims you make. One good thing to know is you will never drop by more than three levels within one year. Even if you have to claim a few times, this doesn’t mean you can lose your discount completely (unless you are at Level 3 or lower to begin with).

Note: No Claims Discount isn’t automatically included with policies and you may have to pay extra to add on this benefit.

You can definitely still buy health insurance from The Exeter even if you have one or more medical conditions. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that your policy may not cover these conditions.

The cover for pre-existing conditions depends on the type of underwriting you choose during the application process. There are a few option available:

  1. Full Medical Underwriting: By providing full details of your medical history, you can potentially lower the cost of your cover. With this option, you’ll be covered for any pre-existing conditions that The Exeter agrees to cover (but it’s possible they won’t cover any).
  2. Standard Moratorium: There is no need to mention your medical conditions during the application. However, for the initial two years of cover any conditions diagnosed or treated within the last 5 years won’t be covered.
  3. Continued Moratorium: This option lets you continue the waiting period (as explained above) from a previous health insurance policy. Your two year wait to be covered for medical conditions would drop to 1 year, if you’ve completed the first year with another provider.
  4. Continued Personal Medical Exclusions: This option allows for an easier transition from another insurer, carrying over any medical exclusions or terms from your existing health insurance policy.
ProsCons
Unlimited cover for in patient and day patient medical treatmentsWon’t cover long term medical conditions (even if they develop after you buy your cover)
Can access extra benefits like online GP appointments and NHS cash benefitsIt can be hard to work out your best cover options without advice from an expert
Option for guided cover which can reduce the price of your policyCancer cover doesn’t include as many benefits as other providers
You can add No Claims Discount to your policy to save money over timeDoesn’t cover medical treatments overseas

Every insurance customer in the UK has a right to complain about the policy or service they have received if they are unhappy with it. I’d suggest contacting The Exeter directly about any issues initially, as they will usually be keen to avoid negative reviews and will do what they can to fix the problem.

If you’re not happy with the outcome of your complaint or want to take things further, you can speak to the Financial Ombudsman Service for extra help and support. They are an impartial service designed to support financial services customers and can award compensation if they think you have lost money unfairly.

The Exeter complaints contact details

Tel. 0300 123 3201

Email – customercomplaints@the-exeter.com

Post:

The Exeter,
Lakeside House,
Emperor Way,
Exeter,
EX1 3FD

Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) contact details

Tel. 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Tel. 0207 964 0500 (overseas)

Email – complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk

We’ve all been through the hassle of trying to cancel insurance policies or subscriptions and feeling frustrated by the confusing and complicated processes.

The good news is that cancelling your The Exeter Health+ policy seems refreshingly straightforward. If you ever need to cancel your health insurance, just reach out to The Exeter over the phone and it shouldn’t be a complicated process.

Tel. 0300 123 3201

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 8am – 6pm

You won’t receive any money back that you have already paid though, unless you cancel within the initial 30 day ‘cooling off’ period. You might also be able to receive a partial refund if you pay annually and cancel part way through your policy year.

I’d recommend reading the reviews of any insurance provider before buying a policy so you know exactly what you are getting into. Independent customer reviews can be useful in highlighting what the insurer does well and anything to watch out for.

The Exeter has a page on customer review site TrustPilot and they are currently rated 4.3 out of 5.0 stars by their customers.

The Exeter Health Insurance (TrustPilot score) – 4.7 out of 5.0 stars (with 746 reviews)

% of 5 star reviews – 75% of reviews rated The Exeter 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 4 star reviews – 14% of reviews rated The Exeter 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 3 star reviews – 4% of reviews rated The Exeter 3.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 2 star reviews – 2% of reviews rated The Exeter 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 1 star reviews – 5% of reviews rated The Exeter 1.0 out of 5.0 stars

It’s clear that The Exeter is well liked overall by their customers, and many commented on the personal approach and good customer service on offer. There were some complaints around the claims process though, so it may be worth asking more questions about potential claims and how they work if you choose to apply.

Note: These figures are from 29/11/2023 and The Exeter’s score may change based on further customer reviews. They are also based on all The Exeter policies and aren’t specific to The Exeter private health insurance.

While you can only apply for The Exeter life insurance and income protection through an insurance broker, you can apply for health insurance with The Exeter yourself. If you’re comfortable and confident in your choice of cover, The Exeter will happily accept direct applications.

However, if you would prefer a bit of extra guidance, reaching out to a health insurance expert is a useful option. It’s often the easiest and most effective way to ensure you’re getting the perfect level of cover and at a reasonable price.

An expert can help you quickly compare The Exeter health insurance quotes and quotes from other providers to work out where you will get the best deal.

You can speak with our trusted health insurance partners on 0800 009 6559 or by clicking here.

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