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What is family health insurance?

Here we are sharing all our best tips and tricks for finding the right health insurance policies to look after your whole family

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 22 September 2023

10 min read

What is family health insurance?

Family health insurance is popular option for consumers in the UK. It’s totally understandable to want to protect your whole family and family health insurance does just that.

Family health insurance gives you and your family members access to the best private healthcare in the UK. There are loads of different options for policies though which can make things confusing when you’re trying to compare.

Here we are sharing all our best tips and tricks for finding the right health insurance policies to look after your loved ones. This includes which providers work out cheapest (most of the time) plus where you can find the best discounts and rewards currently on the market.

Which is the best family health insurance UK?

There are quite a few different health insurance providers in the UK, and some will work better than others for families. Some of the biggest UK insurance providers have health insurance for families as part of their range of products.

You can choose to have separate health insurance policies e.g. individual cover and children’s cover. This can feel like a lot of work though to set up and manage multiple different policies, especially if they aren’t all with the same provider.

What is family health insurance?

Family health insurance is like an individual policy, the main difference is that it covers multiple people. It’s designed to help look after the health of your entire family by giving you access to private health care. This can cover the cost of private medical treatments including cancer treatment, day patient treatment and care, inpatient procedures and more.

A lot of people find it easier to have one policy for everyone instead of juggling multiple policies. With family health insurance, you can cover yourself, your partner and your children.

NHS waiting times have been getting longer and longer in recent years. This has led to a significant rise in the number of people buying health insurance, hoping to avoid big queues for the treatment they need.

What is children’s health insurance?

Another type of health insurance that you can buy is children’s health insurance. This is a policy that will cover your children for any medical issues that require treatment.

If you’re not bothered about having your own policy or already have one (e.g. a workplace scheme), this is a good way to protect your children as well.

Child-only health insurance is often cheaper as the age of the parents won’t impact the cost of the cover. The 2 main insurance providers in the UK that will provide children’s health insurance policies are AXA and Aviva.

How does family health insurance work?

Family private health insurance is a single policy that covers multiple people. There isn’t usually a limit to how many family members you can cover, but you usually can only cover family you live with or immediate family members.

Private health insurance for families:

  • Gives you access to private medical care in a range of UK hospitals
  • Often includes benefits or discounts such as 10% off or younger children covered for FREE if you pay to cover your eldest child
  • Helps you to skip long NHS waiting lists and been seen more quickly

These are the most important things you need to know about family health insurance plans and how they work.

1. The cost is based on everyone in your household

One of your main questions might be ‘how much does private family health insurance cost?’. How much family health insurance costs in the UK can vary depending on several factors – the main one being age.

The amount you pay each month (or annually) will be decided based on the combined age of all the family members covered.

The cost will also go up or down depending on the level of cover needed for each person on the policy.

2. You might be able to cover your children up until their 20s

Your children’s cover doesn’t have to end once they turn 18. Helpfully, many insurance providers will continue your child’s cover up until age 23 or 24.

Note: Some providers will specify that this is only if the child is in full time education, otherwise the cover would end at a younger age.

3. Insurers offer great benefits to attract families

Insurers are always fighting it out to be the best in the market and have the most customers. This means they regularly update their policies and add new offers and benefits which is great for consumers.

Which insurer is best for family private health insurance UK?

There are a few UK providers which offer health insurance plans for families. Here is a list of some of the best ones plus some pros and cons to help you work out your best option for cover.

AXA Health

AXA Health is one of the UK’s biggest health insurance providers in the UK. AXA is known for their flexible policies and comprehensive cover, which makes them a good option for families.

While there might be some providers and policies that offer more rewards, they are still a strong option and especially for families with younger children.

If you want to know how other people feel about AXA family health insurance, you only need to check the reviews. AXA is rated ‘Great’ on independent review site TrustPilot with a score of 4.1 out of 5.0 stars (based on over 8,000 customer reviews).

ProCon
Can add extra benefits such as optical and dental cover, outpatient cover and extra therapies benefitDoesn’t cover childbirth or pregnancy
Provides children’s health insurance policies (if you only want to cover your children and not the whole family)Won’t cover pre-existing medical conditions or chronic (life long) medical conditions e.g. diabetes or epilepsy
FREE cover for newborn babies until your next policy renewal dateYou won’t be covered for any condition where you have had treatment or experienced symptoms before buying your policy
24/7 health support from the Health at Hand appMost plans only cover you for treatment after a diagnosis from your own GP
Helping hand team (qualified midwives) are available to provide guidance and support for new parentsWon’t cover injuries from professional or semi-professional sports

Aviva

Aviva is the UK’s largest provider of insurance policies with over 15 million customers across the country. Health insurance is one of their most popular policies sold, particularly now that NHS waiting lists have become so long.

Aviva Health have some very flexible policies allowing you to adjust your cover so it works best for you. They also provide various discounts, benefits and optional extras for their customers.

Aviva are highly rated with their customers, with a ‘Great’ rating on independent review site TrustPilot. They have a score of 4.0 out of 5.0 stars based on almost 30,000 independent customer reviews.

ProCon
Joint policy discount to help you and your partner save on health coverDoesn’t cover pregnancy or childbirth
FREE cover for your youngest child (if you have an older child insured with Aviva)Can’t claim for treatments in non Aviva approved hospitals
Great benefits for newborns including FREE cover until they are 3 months old plus £100 bonus paid to all policy holders when a baby is born or adopted (under 12 months)Won’t cover pre-existing medical conditions or chronic (life long) medical conditions e.g. diabetes or epilepsy
Protected No Claims Discount (NCD)Won’t cover any condition where you have received treatment or experienced symptoms in the last 3 years
Option to add extra benefits such as optical and dental cashback, outpatient tests and consultations cover and extra therapies benefitNo overseas cover option (you would need travel insurance to cover the cost of medical treatment while on holiday)

Bupa

Bupa is another really well-known health insurance provider with around 17 million customers Worldwide. They have a great reputation for top quality healthcare and are thought of as leader in the health insurance industry.

Bupa Family+ health insurance is a policy that has been recently reworked to include enhanced cover for children’s mental health. They also added 24/7 cancer support services and FREE cover for your younger children (if you insurance your eldest child up to age 20).

Bupa scores well with their current customers too, currently rated ‘Great’ on TrustPilot. The independent review site has their score at 4.0 out of 5.0 stars based on over 19,000 independent customer reviews.

ProCon
Enhanced children’s mental health cover included as standardDoesn’t cover general nursing care or rehabilitation following treatment
10% discount for joint health insurance policiesWon’t cover A&E visits or other emergency treatment e.g. following an allergic reaction
FREE cover for younger children (if eldest child is insured up to age 20)Won’t cover any condition where you have received treatment or experienced symptoms in the last 5 years
24/7 cancer support and comprehensive treatment coverWon’t cover pre-existing medical conditions or chronic (life long) medical conditions e.g. diabetes or epilepsy
Family Mental HealthLine for medical questions and support for your child’s emotional wellbeingCan be complicated to understand your cover options without expert advice

Vitality

Vitality is an exciting option and it’s easy to get drawn in with their offers of free smart watches, big gym discounts and more. They do live up to the hype in some ways though, as they are currently one of the top 3 health insurance providers in the UK.

Vitality is a strong option for families as their policies are very flexible and include rewards that the whole family can enjoy. They’re well known for their lifestyle focused branding, and you’d be forgiven for assuming they were a sports brand not an insurance provider.

Vitality currently only score 4.0 out of 5.0 stars on independent review site TrustPilot with over 30,000 customer reviews.

ProCon
Comprehensive rewards scheme that can be used for the whole familyDoesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions from before you applied (standard for health insurance)
Includes up to 8 online talking therapy or counselling sessionsWon’t cover treatment for chronic (life long) medical conditions e.g. diabetes or epilepsy
Multi product discount is available if you also want another type of cover e.g. life insuranceCan be more expensive if you don’t engage fully with Vitality’s rewards scheme
24/7 virtual GP access for health questionsWon’t cover birth control, fertility treatments or treatment needed as a result of self harm or drug or alcohol use
Wide range of benefits that can be added for an extra cost e.g. outpatient cover, worldwide travel insurance and moreVitality rewards can be complicated to understand and take advantage of if you are new customer

Not all health insurance providers will have specific family health insurance policies. Many do still allow you to add family members to your own policy though. You can choose to add your partner or children (but be aware the cost of your policy will go up).

One main question you might have is what age is your child covered until. Insurers can have different rules on this, so don’t just assume they’ll be covered until they are 18.

We’ve spent some time checking each provider’s policies and rules carefully to make things a bit easier for you.

Health insurance providerMaximum age for child cover
AXA14 years old
Aviva20 years old
Bupa20 years old
The Exeter21 years old (25 years if in full time education)
Freedom Health25 years old (if added to a personal policy) 30 years old (group policies)
National Friendly23 years old
Vitality14 years old

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the best discounts and offers currently available for new health insurance customers in the UK.

  • FREE newborn baby cover up until your next health insurance renewal date (AXA)
  • FREE newborn baby cover for the first 3 months of their life (Aviva)
  • Joint policy discount to make your cover cheaper for you and your partner (Aviva)
  • FREE cover for your youngest child under age 20 (Aviva)
  • £100 newborn bonus pays out £100 to every family member covered on the plan following the birth or adoption of a baby up to 12 months old. Your policy must be more than 1 year old to qualify. (Aviva)
  • 10% discount for couples living in the same household to help you save money on your cover (Bupa)
  • ALL children (unlimited) up to age 20 are covered for the price of covering one child (Bupa)
  • Extensive rewards for healthy lifestyle and activity including FREE cinema tickets, Apple Watch discounts and more (Vitality)
  • Only pay for the first child added to your policy (Freedom Health)
  • 6% discount on premiums if you pay annually (Freedom Health)

Do I need family health insurance?

No one ‘needs’ health insurance but many people like to have it. This is because it gives you some peace of mind that you will have access to private medical care if needed – without paying out huge sums of money.

Family health insurance can help boost the level of care already available to you via the NHS. It’s a cheaper way to ensure your family receive the care they need without being stuck on long waiting list for NHS care.

Many family health insurance policies also offer cover for child specific conditions, which helps set them apart from individual cover.

How to save money on family health insurance

Here are our 5 TOP TIPS to saving money on family health insurance:

  1. Buy less cover – this might seem obvious but if you take out less cover then you will usually pay less. The cost of private health insurance will be lower if you have less benefits or choose a more limited hospital list.
  2. Take off any benefits you won’t use – health insurance is flexible and you can usually remove certain benefit you are unlikely to use so you won’t need to pay for them.
  3. Pay more excess – the excess is the amount you pay towards any health insurance claim, like with other types of insurance such as car insurance. If you agree to pay more excess, this should reduce the cost of your monthly premium.
  4. Look for policies that include discounts and rewards – again it might be obvious but check if any providers are offering rewards and discounts that could save you money long term.
  5. Shop around (or get some advice) – the best thing to do is to compare what each provider is offering to find the right price. If you don’t have time or find it too confusing, you can speak to a health insurance specialist for support and advice.

Useful health insurance guides

Here are some more of our recent MPO news articles and guides about health insurance and health related topics.

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