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Vitality health insurance – is it right for you?

Here's all the key details about the great rewards (and potential downsides) of Vitality health insurance plans

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 11 May 2023

16 min read

Vitality health insurance – is it right for you?

I wasn’t too familiar with Vitality until several years ago, as they are a newer insurer to the UK market. It can be a bit confusing for consumers to understand exactly what Vitality do, because their adverts focus so heavily on health and lifestyle (not your typical insurance advert).

Even after years in this industry, I’m still impressed with Vitality’s very innovative approach to personal insurance products, where they reward their customers for being healthy and active. This approach totally makes sense as the healthier customers are, the less likely they are to claim.

Vitality health insurance is becoming more and more popular with UK consumers due to the massive range of rewards, benefits and discounts on offer. You can bag yourself some great perks like heavily discounted smartwatches, discounts for holidays and even a free coffee for your morning commute.

While there are a lot of good things to mention about Vitality, it’s important to note that Vitality is not going to work best for everyone and there are some downsides. While their reward scheme is great, if you don’t engage and you aren’t active enough it could cost you more in the long run.

QUICK SUMMARY – Vitality health insurance review

Vitality is leading the way in terms of health insurance and customer rewards in the UK. There are several important things to think about though before you buy a Vitality health insurance policy.

  • Vitality health insurance works best when you engage with their reward scheme – you could find yourself paying more or not making the most of the benefits available if you’re not active enough.
  • Vitality health insurance offers some great policy features like advanced cancer cover (included as standard), NHS cash benefits and cover for specific weight loss surgeries (not usually covered).
  • There’s a heavy focus on apps and technology, which might mean another insurer is a better choice if you’re not as tech savvy.
  • If you’re not sure about how Vitality health insurance works or if it’s the right choice for you, it’s worth getting some free advice from a health insurance specialist.

A Vitality health plan (also known as Vitality health insurance or Vitality private medical insurance) is a policy designed help you cover the cost of private medical care. We’re all a bit concerned about the NHS at the moment, so a lot more people are now turning to private treatment and want a bit of helping covering the cost.

Features of Vitality health insurance include:

  • Faster diagnosis for your health concerns
  • Access to specialist treatments and drugs
  • Avoid long NHS waiting lists
  • Cash pay outs if you do undergo NHS treatment (£250 per night for in patients and £125 per day for day patients)
  • Advanced cancer cover included as standard

Vitality has a very different approach compared to other insurance providers in the UK, which can be really beneficial for their customers. It’s definitely impressive and it’s easy to understand the draw of their wide range of rewards.

Vitality actively reward their members for making healthy lifestyle choices, by tracking things like daily steps and other forms of exercise in the Vitality app. You will earn rewards points for being active which you can cash in for various discounts and freebies.

Some of the main perks of Vitality health insurance include:

  • Discounts help to reduce the cost of your cover
  • Excellent health support for Vitality members
  • Encourages you and reward you for keeping fit and active
  • You can save hundreds of pounds (but only if you engage with the vitality rewards scheme)
  • Ideal insurer for people who are already active, so don’t need to make significant changes their lifestyle to benefit
  • Good level of health cover
  • Vitality premiums are generally lower (though pricing can vary)
  • Option to add on extra benefits like optical and dental cover

I can’t tell you whether to choose vitality over a different insurance provider, because they’re definitely not going to be the right choice for everybody. To get full value for money out of your policy you’re going to need to be more active (if you’re not already).

You won’t qualify for as many rewards and benefits if you don’t engage with Vitality ‘s rewards programme by being active and tracking your points. I completely get that this is not going to be something that everyone wants to do. You might not have the time to add more activity into your day, or you might not want to and that’s OK.

Luckily if you don’t think Vitality feels like the right fit for you, there’s a range of other UK insurance providers that sell health insurance such as:

Vitality health insurance is going to work best for people who are active and happy to track their activity in return for their rewards points. this is how you will earn all the perks that come alongside vitality such as Apple Watches from as little as £39 (or an alternative such as Garmin or Polar).

Outside of this, there are certain groups of customers that tend to do well with Vitality health insurance:

  1. Younger customers – Vitality is generally affordable for younger customers, especially if they are particularly active and can claim their Vitality rewards
  2. Smokers – Smokers or vapers will normally pay more due to associated health risks. Vitality tends to provide fairer pricing for smokers compared to some other insurance providers.
  3. Families – Vitality is seen as a good option for families, especially as the whole family can benefit from rewards like holiday discounts and free cinema tickets.
  4. Pre-existing medical conditions – Medical conditions can affect the price of cover too. Vitality is one of the better providers that I’ve seen for people with pre-existing conditions.

At first glance, Vitality health insurance sounds great because of all the additional rewards and benefits that you can get your hands on. I know I personally am unlikely to say no to huge discounts on smartwatches or holidays and extra perks like free cinema tickets if I can get them.

Vitality might promise an ‘all singing all dancing’ product, but ultimately there are some downsides to Vitality health insurance and Vitality in general. You only really get the picture that Vitality want you to see when you’re looking at their website or social media. I’ve talked to actual vitality customers about their experiences and some of the things that can be frustrating about being a Vitality member.

1. Confusing technology and app

Vitality want to be cutting edge and innovative, which means they have a big push on new technology and tracking rewards points through their app.

If you’re not the most tech savvy, you might find it a bit complicated to work out what to do with your Vitality app. Even those of us who are constantly on our phones might find the app confusing at best and completely unusable at worst.

2. Rewards points can be frustrating (and sometimes don’t show up)

The hazard of relying on technology or apps is that sometimes things go wrong and your reward points might get lost. I know I’d be very disappointed and frustrated if I’d worked hard to be active to earn my points and they didn’t even count towards my rewards.

Occasionally, you might enter points into your app and find that they don’t show up. If this happens often, I’d suggest getting in touch with Vitality to complain – especially if this leads to you missing out on rewards you would have qualified for.

3. Vitality’s expensive if you don’t engage with the rewards programme

Vitality does offer a lot to their customers in terms of policy features and rewards, but if you don’t engage with their reward scheme you could end up paying more than you really need to for your health insurance. Vitality can be expensive and other providers might have a better price available, even if they don’t have such a wide range of benefits on offer.

If you don’t engage properly with vitality, you could be looking at paying at least 5% more next year. This is because you won’t benefit from member discounts, so you really need to engage to make the most of the benefits and savings on offer.

4. You only get one Apple Watch per plan

One of the main and best known perks of vitality insurance products is the massive discounts available for smartwatches (e.g. Apple watch). When you having a smart watch or other wearable device to track your point it makes sense for them to offer a big discount to their members.

You will only get one Apple Watch per plan though, so you can’t upgrade or get multiple watches even if the plan covers your whole family.

5. Vitality rewards and benefits can change over time

The thing with deals and discounts is that sometimes they will change and Vitality is no exception to this. There might be one perk in particular that you really like about your vitality policy which then gets pulled and isn’t available anymore.

How can I save money on Vitality health insurance?

The price you pay for any health insurance will vary depending on factors like:

  • Your age
  • Where you live (post code)
  • Claims history
  • Level of cover
  • If you’ve added extra benefits

Some easy ways to save money on Vitality health insurance include:

  • Paying more excess (the amount you pay towards the cost of a claim)
  • Removing or not adding extra benefits
  • Take advantage of multi product discounts (Vitality offer discounts for members who have multiple policies e.g. life and health insurance)
  • Be more active (the main way to save money is to fully engage with Vitality or prices can go up)

I can’t tell you if Vitality health insurance is going to be worth the money you spend, as this is a very personal opinion. What I will say is many vitality members save money overall due to all the discounts they can claim with other brands because of their policy.

The main issue with Vitality is that you have to properly engage with the reward scheme to get full value for money. If you don’t track your activity, you won’t be able to claim any rewards and the price of your cover can go up each year.

How do Vitality health insurance policies work?

Something that can be seen as a positive and a negative for Vitality is that they only sell one personal health insurance policy and not a wide range of different types of health cover. This keeps things simple as you don’t have to debate between different types cover. You can add or remove benefits to build the policy that you want (and even add your partner or children).

This works well for people who want a higher level of control over the benefits included in their plan, but might not appeal to you if you want to just quickly choose a policy. you can choose to just stick with the basic level of cover (core cover) or pay slightly more to add on extra benefits like:

  • Dental, optical and hearing cover
  • Worldwide travel cover
  • Mental health cover
  • Alternative therapies cover
  • Out patient cover

Whether this is something that’s worth it is up to you, as everyone’s situation is different. I’d suggest thinking carefully about if you can afford to add on extra benefits and if they’re really that important for you to have.

How do Vitality Rewards work?

Here’s the main question that most people ask, which is about how you earn the points that give you the rewards. it’s a fair question, particularly if you chose Vitality mostly because of the extra perks that are included.

I think it’s important to understand how to track your activity how to get your points and claim your rewards. To be honest, it took me a long time to get my head around how Vitality works as it’s not the simplest option for someone who’s not familiar with it.

  1. Record your daily activity (e.g. steps, exercises etc) on a smart watch or other wearable device
  2. Make sure this device is paired with the Vitality app
  3. Claim your Vitality rewards points to get your rewards and discounts

Here’s some more things you need to know:

  1. The more points you earn the better – this might seem obvious, but you have access to the most amount of rewards you need to earn the highest possible amount of points. You can earn up to 2080 points each year at most.
  2. You can claim more rewards if you have a more expensive policy – there’s some brilliant rewards included with the basic policies, but you will have access to more rewards if you pay more for your policy.
  3. You will be given a ‘Vitality status’ – your Vitality status is based on how many points you earn. Everyone starts as Bronze and then move up through the levels. For a single policy you need to earn 800 points per year for Silver, 1,600 points per year for Gold and 2,400 points per year for Platinum.
  4. You need to use a ‘wearable device’ to track your activity – you will need to use a wearable device like a smart watch to track things like your daily steps or heart rate when exercising. Something that’s good about vitality is that they do provide discounts for smartwatches because of this (how much discount you get will depend on your activity level).

It can definitely feel bit overwhelming when trying to work out how to earn your rewards points. Vitality explains a bit more about this on the website and here is a list of some simple ways that you can earn points.

  • Working out in the gym (five points)
  • 7000 daily steps (three points)
  • 10,000 daily steps (five points)
  • 12,500 daily steps (eight points)
  • 30 minutes of exercise (8 points but your heart rate must be at 70% of the Max heart rate)
  • Online vitality health checks (100 points per year)
  • Online non-smoker declaration (100 points per year)
  • Check at a vitality approved pharmacy (600 points per year)

What rewards can I get from Vitality?

Vitality partner with some brilliant big name brands for their customer rewards, which can be really appealing. Everyone wants good value for money and these discounts act as an extra bonus to a good quality health insurance policy.

All I’d say is don’t get drawn in by rewards and not properly check the features of your policy to make sure it’s right for you. Although discounts and freebies are great, it’s more important to be certain you’ve got the right health insurance policy. That being said here’s some of the rewards that you can claim from vitality:

Type of policyVitality Private Medical Insurance
Policy optionsVitality private health insurance
Range of policiesVitality health insurance (personal)
Vitality business health insurance
What is included in my policy?Vitality policies will pay out to cover the cost of:  

In patient and day patient hospital/consultation fees (full cover)
Up to £2,000 in NHS cash benefits per year (£250 per night in an NHS hospital and £125 per day)
Out patient surgical procedures (full cover)
Advanced cancer cover (included as standard)
Private prescription costs (up to £100 per year)
Some specified weight loss surgeries
Specific pregnancy complications
Childbirth cash benefit
Cover for rehabilitation treatment
Home nursing cover (only after Vitality approved hospital treatment)
Hospital accommodation benefit (for parents, if their child is covered on the policy)
Is there anything Vitality won’t cover?Vitality won’t allow claims for:  

Routine medical care
Treatment of chronic medical conditions
A&E visits and other emergency medical care
Preventative medical treatments
Childbirth
Birth control
Fertility treatments
Dental care (unless you add this on)
Injuries due to self harm
Injuries or illness due to drug or alcohol abuse
How long does Vitality health insurance cover you for?You will be covered by Vitality for 1 year (12 months) with the option to renew your cover for another year after this.
Where can I claim for medical treatment with Vitality?Vitality will pay out for the cost of UK medical care (including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man)
Levels of coverYou can add extra benefits to your policy for a higher level of cover such as mental health cover or dental, optical and hearing cover.
When will I pay for Vitality health insurance?You can pay either monthly, quarterly or yearly by Direct Debit.

When I’m trying to judge whether a health insurance plan offers good value for money one of the main things that I’ll look at is their cancer cover. Being diagnosed with cancer is a main concern for many people, especially those with a family history of cancer (myself included). A lot of UK consumers will want decent cancer cover as standard from their health insurance.

Vitality understand this and their cancer cover is actually really good. They include advanced cancer cover with all of their health insurance policies, which pays out for inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Features of Vitality Advanced Cancer Cover:

  • Full cover for radiotherapy and chemotherapy
  • Full cover for alternative therapies like biological therapies, hormone and bisphosphonate, and stem cell therapy
  • Full cover for any cancer surgeries (including reconstructive surgery)
  • Full cover for follow up cancer consultations and discounted screenings and risk assessments for bowel and surgical cancer
  • Up to £1000 a day for end of life home nursing care (up to 14 days maximum)
  • Pays out for mastectomy bras (up to £200) and external prostheses (up to £5,000)
  • Option to receive certain treatments from the comfort of your own home

It’s annoying and frustrating that health insurance generally won’t pay out for the treatment of chronic (long term) medical conditions or conditions you had before you bought the policy (pre-existing).

This can feel unfair but it’s just how this type of policy works with most insurers, including Vitality. They might agree to cover conditions that you haven’t needed treatment for in the last 5 years – this isn’t guaranteed though.

What are the pros and cons of Vitality health insurance?

ProCon
Brilliant discounts and rewards available with brands like Apple, Expedia and Caffe NeroClaims process is a bit complicated to navigate
High level of health cover (including advanced cancer care)Heavy reliance on technology and apps – may not appeal to all consumers
Multi product discounts are available if you have other Vitality policies e.g. life insuranceNeed to engage properly with the Rewards scheme to get full value for money from your policy

Most of us know how irritating it can be when you need to speak to your insurance provider and have no clue how to get in touch with them. No one wants to waste time we put on hold for ages, because you rang the wrong number. contacting vitality is fairly simple was there only two main numbers for their health insurance policies.

Tel. 0808 291 6125 (new policies)

Opening hours: 9am – 8pm Monday to Thursday, 9am – 6pm Fridays and 10am – 2pm on Saturdays

Tel. 0333 242 8333

Opening hours: 8am – 7pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 1pm Saturdays

Is it easy to claim on Vitality health insurance?

I know one of my first questions when looking at a new insurance provider is how easy is it to claim. It’s all well and good to have a policy with loads of extra benefits and perks, but is it really worth it if it’s a nightmare to submit a claim?

Honestly claiming with vitality for the first time can feel a bit confusing. Unlike other providers where you simply call and speak to somebody, Vitality try to do everything online or over their app. I will admit while this would be more convenient for me personally, it’s not ideal if you would prefer to talk over the phone.

There’s some different options for how you claim depending on if you’re using the app or the website and what you’re claiming for. While this might make things easier on Vitality’s end, having to search for the right way to claim makes things a bit less straightforward for the consumer.

To submit a Vitality claim you need to:

  1. Get in touch with vitality using their website or one of the Vitality apps (member zone or their GP app) to request the treatment you need
  2. Vitality will decide whether to approve your claim (most of the time there’s an immediate decision) – someone will call you if they need extra information
  3. you can have the treatment you need if your claim is approved and can manage your treatment on the Vitality Care Hub.
What am I claiming for?Where do I request treatment?
Private GP adviceVitality GP app
PhysiotherapySelf refer via the Vitality Care Hub
Mental health concernsAccess support through the Vitality website mental health page
Menopause supportLog in and talk to a Peppy advisor (Vitality partner)
Claiming for treatment (after GP open referral)Start your claim via the Vitality Care Hub (can access through the online member zone or on the member app)

How do I cancel Vitality health insurance?

You’ve always got the option to cancel your health insurance if you’re not happy with the policy or you just don’t want it anymore. You can use Vitality’s usual contact details to call, e-mail or write to them to cancel your policy.

Something that might catch a lot of people out is that Vitality can charge a £40 cancellation fee for cancelling your cover before your next renewal date.

How do I complain about Vitality health insurance?

It’s never fun to have to submit a complaint, however sometimes it is necessary. If you feel like vitality of misled you or they haven’t treated you the way they should, you’re well within your rights to submit a complaint.

The first thing I would do is contact Vitality directly to see if they’ll do anything about the issue. It’s likely they will try and make things right, as they don’t want to get a reputation for for poor customer service. Vitality and other insurers are aware that sometimes people complain, so there will be procedures in place for if this happens.

There are a few different ways to get in touch about a complaint, so you can choose the one that works best for you.

Vitality health insurance complaints contact details

Tel. 0333 242 8333

Opening hours: 8am – 7pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 1pm Saturdays

Email: customer_support@vitality.co.uk (about renewals or cancellations)

Email: CustomerRelations@vitality.co.uk (about claims, invoice or Vitality partners/rewards)

Post:

VitalityHealth,

PO Box 617,

Darlington,

DL1 9FF

Should I read Vitality health insurance reviews?

I’d definitely recommend reading customer reviews before buying a new health insurance policy, even if you’re generally happy with the provider you’ve chosen. It just helps you to get a good idea of what other customers think of their policies and the customer service available.

The best place to look for this type of information is an independent customer review site such as TrustPilot. It’s always better to check an independent site, rather than relying on the feedback posted by insurers themselves (because realistically they’re going to highlight the most positive responses).

Vitality (TrustPilot score) – 4.0 out of 5.0 stars (with over 31,000 reviews)

% of 5 star reviews – 67% of reviews rated Bupa 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 4 star reviews – 10% of reviews rated Bupa 4.0 out of 5.0 stars

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

% of 2 star reviews – 4% of reviews rated Bupa 2.0 out of 5.0 stars

% of 1 star reviews – 15% of reviews rated Bupa 1.0 out of 5.0 stars

If you’re thinking about buying Vitality health insurance, there are a couple of ways to go about it – do what works best for you!

You can head to the Vitality website directly and apply there or you can get some extra help and guidance from a health insurance expert. Speaking to a specialist can help save a lot of time in comparing policies and finding the best prices.

With a provider like Vitality (which let’s be honest can be a little confusing to understand), it can be helpful to have an expert explain exactly how the policies work, so you know you’ve got all the right information.

To find out more about health insurance, you can speak to our trusted health insurance partner by calling 0800 009 6559 or clicking here.

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