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The Exeter Life Insurance Review 2024

As a 'specialist' medical life insurance provider, is The Exeter really the best choice in the UK for people with pre-existing conditions?

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 30 January 2024

15 min read

The Exeter Life Insurance Review 2024

It’s not easy to think about how your family would cope financially if you died, but it is something that is important to consider. Policies like life insurance are there to help in this situation, but they can sometimes be frustratingly difficult or expensive to access if you have medical conditions.

The Exeter claims to be a ‘specialist’ life insurance provider which will offer cover in situations when other insurers would choose to say no (e.g. if you have serious pre-existing conditions). While this insurer may seem very appealing if you have been declined life cover before, is The Exeter Insurance too good to be true?

The aim of this guide is to explain who The Exeter Insurance are and what policies are available, to help you decide if they really are the best option on the market for people with medical conditions. Here, we cover everything that you need to know about The Exeter, including any potential issues that you might need to watch out for.

Note: Though The Exeter specialises in pre-existing conditions, they may not be the right choice for every customer with health issues. You should consider all your options carefully before agreeing to a long-term financial commitment such as life insurance.

A picture of a stopwatch

60-Second Summary – The Exeter Life Insurance Review 2024

There’s a lot to think about when choosing to buy a life insurance policy from any UK provider. If you are considering buying your life cover from The Exeter, the key things to remember are:.

  • The Exeter only sells individual term life insurance policies, so anyone who is after whole life, over 50s cover, joint life insurance or family income benefit will need to look into another provider.
  • They Exeter also does not sell critical illness insurance and any current customer of The Exeter who wants this type of cover would need to buy a standalone policy from another provider. They do sell other forms of insurance though (The Exeter income protection and The Exeter health insurance).
  • The Exeter is a specialist insurer and can often be the most available/affordable option for people who have medical conditions or a high risk occupation or hobby.
  • You can’t apply to The Exeter directly or through a price comparison site, so you would need to speak to an insurance broker if you want to submit an application.

The main question on most consumer’s minds will be whether a potential life insurance provider is offering policies that they would consider ’good quality’. It can be a bit confusing to work this out, as every provider will offer something slightly different to their customers.

Here’s some of the main factors you might find useful to look at, to help you decide The Exeter’s policies are really worth the money they charge.

  1. Customer reviews – You can check independent review websites like Trustpilot or Feefo to see what current and past customers have experienced with this insurance provider
  2. Industry ratings and awards – If an insurance provider has won many awards in areas like customer service, it can be reassuring. You should check if there are good ratings from independent bodies like Defaqto as that can help indicate quality of products.
  3. Policy features and benefits – Look to see if The Exeter is offering the right level of cover for what you need and if there are options to add extra benefits
  4. Value for money – Check how The Exeter compares to other insurance providers in terms of price or if there are any discounts available. You can request quotes from multiple providers yourself or ask a broker for help (The Exeter does not appear on price comparison websites like Money Supermarket)

The Exeter is generally well reviewed by customers with a Trustpilot score of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars. They’re also an award-winning insurance provider, having won multiple industry awards including Best Income Protection Provider (LifeSearch Awards 2022) and Outstanding Protection Product Innovation (COVER Excellence Awards 2022).

If you were interested in other types of insurance, The Exeter sells two other forms of insurance which are health insurance and income protection insurance.

‘Real Life’ insurance is the name of The Exeter’s range of life insurance products. This includes two types of term life insurance: decreasing term life insurance and level term life insurance which work to protect you financially and give you some peace of mind.

It’s important to understand the difference between these policies, no matter which insurance provider you choose.

  • Level term life insurance is the simplest to understand and most popular type of life insurance in the UK. With level term cover, your insurer will always pay out the same pre-arranged cash lump sum regardless of when your loved ones need to claim. You might see this type of cover referred to as ‘family life insurance’ online or by insurance brokers.
  • Decreasing life insurance (better known as ‘mortgage life insurance’) will also pay out a cash lump sum to your loved ones if you die during your policy term. These policies are designed specifically to protect a repayment mortgage, where your mortgage debt reduces as the years pass. The amount your policy pays out will get lower over time as you repay more of your mortgage, which means that these policies are usually cheaper than level term cover.

The Exeter policies are available to people aged 18 – 80 years old, who have been permanent residents in the UK for the last 3 years prior to applying. Even though they are a smaller provider, you can still be covered for anywhere up to £3million based on individual assessment when you apply.

Note: You can’t buy joint life insurance from The Exeter, so you would need to choose a different insurer if you want cover for both you and your partner.

What is the catch with The Exeter life insurance?

The Exeter currently does not sell whole life insurance policies, so if you aren’t interested in term life insurance you might need to look at another provider.

Whole life insurance policies can be appealing for consumers, as they protect you indefinitely (no set end date). This means you would never need to worry about reapplying for a new policy in the future and you should have a price locked in, so there won’t be any surprise increases to the cost.

You also cannot buy increasing life insurance from The Exeter, which is an option that is available with several mainstream providers. Higher costs due to inflation could mean your cover amount (sum assured) isn’t sufficient in the future to cover everything you need it to (e.g. funeral or mortgage costs). Increasing life insurance policies help to protect your policy against the impact of inflation and will normally increase by a set percentage each year or in line with UK inflation rates.

Note: It is possible that The Exeter whole life insurance and increasing cover may become available in the future and the above information is accurate as of January 2024.

What benefits does The Exeter ‘Real Life’ policy provide?

The Exeter ‘Real Life’ insurance offers certain benefits automatically (and completely free!) and getting something extra may make their policies feel like better value for money to you.

  • Free accidental death benefit – This applies during the application process and pays out if you were to die due to an accident before your policy is approved or declined. This is only available for under 55s though, which is definitely something you need to be aware of if you are older.
  • HealthWise App – The Exeter has their own healthcare support app which they recently updated to include more features including private prescription access and remote GP services. You can download the app from the Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Free terminal illness cover – Like many providers, The Exeter will allow you to make an early claim on your life insurance if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness (12 months or less to live)
  • Option to easily increase or decrease cover – You can request a lower or higher amount of cover by contacting The Exeter. This will need to be approved and it will have an affect on the price you pay each month, so make sure this is affordable if you are requesting an increase

The Exeter also gives you the option of writing your policy into a Trust, which would allow you to specify exactly who gets the money from your policy when you die. This isn’t viewed a necessity by some people, as they may already have a Will, but a Trust can act as a free alternative. It also separates your life insurance benefit from your overall estate which can be useful if you are worried about inheritance tax for example.

While all these benefits are useful, they are limited compared to what some providers will offer. If getting a lot of extra rewards alongside your policy is important to you, The Exeter may not be the right choice for your cover. Other insurers like Vitality offer comprehensive rewards schemes which may appeal more to you, but these policies may be more expensive so you should consider your options carefully.

The Exeter life insurance is designed to pay out a cash lump sum in the event of your death. The policies that The Exeter sells work similarly to most other insurance providers, so there’s no major differences to be aware of.

You simply need to apply for a policy (through an insurance broker) and wait for your application to be approved or declined. If it is approved, you pay for your policy until you either need to claim, cancel your cover or your policy term ends.

Here is a quick breakdown of some of the main features of The Exeter ‘Real Life’ insurance.

Policy typeThe Exeter ‘Real Life’ Life Insurance
What are the premium options?Guaranteed (fixed) premiums – you will pay the same amount for your policy throughout your policy term
What are the cover options?The Exeter level term life insurance (family protection)
The Exeter decreasing life insurance (mortgage protection)
What type of cover is available?Single life
Is terminal illness benefit included?Yes, The Exeter automatically provides free terminal illness benefit to all life insurance customers.   You can claim on this benefit if you are diagnosed as having 12 or less months left to live
Is waiver of premium included?No, waiver of premium is not available for The Exeter life insurance customers
Is increasing cover available?No, The Exeter doesn’t currently sell life insurance policies with increasing cover.  
You may be able to increase your overall cover amount by speaking to The Exeter directly.
Are there age limits for The Exeter life insurance?Minimum age at policy start is 18 years old
Maximum age at policy start is 80 years old  
How long will a The Exeter life insurance policy cover me for?You have to buy a policy that covers you for a minimum of 5 years  
The Exeter policies will cover you for 50 years at most  
You cannot get covered past age 90 with The Exeter.
Are there any exclusions with The Exeter policies?You won’t be able to claim for suicidal death if it occurred within the first 12 months of the policy being live.  
There also can be other specified exclusions for some applicants (if there are, they will be explained fully in your policy documents)

The Exeter Real Life Policy Summary – CLICK HERE

The Exeter life insurance works very well for specific types of customers (people with medical condition or ‘high risk’ lifestyle factors like a dangerous hobby). For someone in this situation, The Exeter is often one of the only providers willing to offer cover, or will at least be one of the lower priced options.

You should however always consider all the choices that are available to you before making any decisions. Life insurance can make a huge difference to your family’s financial situation if you died, so it’s best to take some time to research your options before choosing a provider.

Guides like this one can be a helpful starting point and you may also wish to have look on The Exeter’s website or get advice from an insurance specialist.

You don’t have to choose The Exeter life insurance, or maybe you’re not keen on life insurance altogether, and that’s fair enough. Opinions on its value differ, but it does offer that extra financial support for your loved ones, which is priceless.

While The Exeter does offer competitive pricing, remember that the cheapest option won’t always be the best fit. They also don’t sell all types of life insurance (e.g. whole life, over 50s) or critical illness cover which you might have wanted to add on.

If you’re unsure about what type of life insurance will work best for you, it can be helpful to speak to an independent life insurance specialist.

The Exeter actually isn’t owned by any shareholders or other companies unlike a lot of ‘big’ providers. They are a Friendly Society which means that they are owned by their members, so they don’t need to pay out to anyone except their members.

Of course, there will be costs associated with running a business like The Exeter (e.g. staff wages), but The Exeter claim that operating in this way allows them to reinvest more in their customers.

They do have a Board of Trustees, but this board was voted for by The Exeter members and all The Exeter customers are able to have their say in matters like this if they want to.

The Exeter is one of the only UK providers that doesn’t sell critical illness cover either alongside or separate to their life insurance policies. It’s unclear why this is, but it may cause you to consider other options if you were keen to also be covered for critical illnesses.

It is entirely possible to buy life insurance from one provider and critical illness cover from another, though you may not want the hassle of two separate application processes.

Is critical illness cover worth it?

Critical illness cover (or critical illness insurance) is a policy which will pay out a cash lump sum if you become seriously ill. However, you would only be able to claim for conditions covered by your policy, so it’s not a perfect solution to helping financially with literally any possible diagnosis.

The cash lump sum paid out can make a big difference though If you can claim, and some comprehensive policies will pay out for more than 100 specified medical conditions.

While you can’t buy critical illness cover through The Exeter, there are many UK insurance providers that do sell this type of policy including:

It’s fair to wonder how much your life insurance policy might cost and which provider will offer you the best price. From what we have found in our MPO market research, The Exeter policies are often some of the most affordable and available for people who have medical conditions or high-risk hobbies/jobs.

As specialists, they can offer better pricing in most of these situations and especially for people with more complicated medical histories. If you don’t have any medical conditions, you might prefer to apply with a mainstream provider which makes sense and is completely up to you.

There is a ‘minimum’ monthly premium of £15 with The Exeter, but any pricing above this will vary based on your own situation and the level of cover needed.

Our trusted life insurance partners recently published research which suggested the average cost of a life insurance policy in the UK is £38 per month with £152,000 worth of cover. Of course, this isn’t the exact price that everyone will pay, and The Exeter will look at various factors like your age, height and weight and medical history to calculate the cost of your policy.

Our MPO TOP TIPS to save some money on your life insurance if you have a tighter budget are:

  1. Consider lowering your cover amount (£s) – You might not need as much cover as you think, so assess your usual income and outgoings to work out if slightly less cover would still offer enough financial protection for your family
  2. Think about reducing your policy term – A longer policy term will cost you more overall, as your policy will cover you for more years, so reducing this by a few years can make your policy cheaper
  3. Check prices from multiple insurers – Getting multiple quotes is a tried and tested method to finding the best pricing. You won’t know if The Exeter is offering the best prices unless you check what prices other providers would charge for the same cover.
  4. Ask for some help from an expert – There’s nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it and this is exactly why insurance brokers exist. An experienced life insurance broker can search the entire market to find the lowest prices for you.

Note: As much as we are all about how to save money here at MPO, sometimes it is worth paying slightly more to get the right level of cover. Ultimately, it is key to remember why you are buying your policy and to choose the one that offers you the right level of protection.

Is The Exeter life insurance worth the price?

We all want to get the best possible value from our life insurance policy and most online reviews for The Exeter which mention price note that premiums are ‘reasonable’, ‘competitive’ and ‘not overly expensive’.

It is also frequently mentioned that The Exeter does generally provide good customer service and many customers liked that The Exeter is a Mutual company, so there aren’t shareholders to pay or answer to.

Others commented on the ‘human face’ and ‘personal touch’ received from The Exeter, which is something I know I personally prefer, compared to dealing with a large, faceless business that don’t seem to care.

It’s useful to know how to get in touch with your insurance provider in case you have questions or encounter any issues with your policy. If you need to speak to The Exeter, you can use the contact details below:

Tel. 0300 123 3201

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

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

Post:

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

To submit a life insurance claim with The Exeter, you will need to speak to them directly. You can do this in the way that works best for you out of the available options (post, telephone or complete an online claim form).

The Exeter will ask for a few details initially to begin the claims process which are:

  • The name of the person who had the policy (policyholder)
  • Their policy number (if known)
  • Your name and contact details
  • Whether the claim is for bereavement or terminal illness

You can call the usual customer services number if you want to start the claim process over the phone (tel. 0300 123 3201). Other details about how the claims process works can be found on The Exeter’s website claims page.

The Exeter Online Claim Form – CLICK HERE

Unlike some of the more mainstream providers, The Exeter specialises in life insurance for people with one or more pre-existing medical conditions. This means that even if you have had trouble getting life insurance before, The Exeter may be able to help.

Their attitude to insurance underwriting is refreshingly flexible which allows them to offer cover in situations where other insurance providers would immediately decline.

They will often be able to cover conditions that other providers might not including some heart conditions, HIV, mental health conditions, multiple sclerosis, overweight (BMI up to 53) and diabetes.

We would say that The Exeter is one of the best options on the market for customers who would otherwise struggle to get life or health insurance policies. However, it is important to be aware that The Exeter isn’t necessarily your only option. People with certain medical conditions may be able to get cover from other providers too, based on how severe their conditions/symptoms are.

If you have any form of pre-existing condition, it can mean paying significantly more if you don’t choose the right insurance provider. It’s key to do some research or even speak to a medical life insurance specialist for extra guidance and advice before you apply.

ProCon
Can often cover people with more serious medical conditionsThe cost of life insurance can be higher for people with medical conditions, high risk jobs or hobbies (same as most providers)
Competitive pricing compared to other providers (in some situations)Can’t use price comparison sites (only able to apply via broker)
Two simple policy options to make things easier for life insurance customersLack of choice in type of policies available (can only buy term life insurance policies)

Most people don’t enjoy having to submit a complaint to an insurance company, but sometimes it is necessary. If you feel like you have been mis-sold or The Exeter hasn’t lived up to your expectations, you are well within your rights to complain.

The first thing that we would suggest doing is to speak to The Exeter directly to see if they will do anything to resolve your problem. Something that definitely works in the interest of consumers is that insurers will normally try and address issues quickly to avoid negative reviews or cancellations.

It’s pretty easy to find out how to complain and simply searching ‘The Exeter life insurance complaints’ on Google will bring up the dedicated complaints page for their website.

You can contact The Exeter’s customer service team to complain in any of the following ways:

 Tel. 0300 123 3201

Email – customercomplaints@the-exeter.com

Opening hours – Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

The Exeter’s website states that they aim to resolve any complaints within 5 working days, but more complicated cases could take up to 8 weeks. Be prepared that it may take some time before your complaint is fully dealt with.

However, if you feel like The Exeter is taking much longer than expected or isn’t dealing with your complaint properly, you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service for help. They are a completely independent body that aims to act as a mediator between financial services businesses and their customers.

Financial Ombudsman Service contact details

Tel. 0800 023 4567 (or 0300 123 9123)

Tel. (outside the UK) – 0207 964 0500

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

Financial Ombudsman Service – Complaints we can help with

If you buy a policy from The Exeter and decide it isn’t right for you, you are free to cancel your cover at any time. There shouldn’t be any charges or hidden fees attached to this and there are two steps to cancelling your cover:

  1. Speak to The Exeter directly to let them know that you want to cancel
  2. Cancel your direct debit with your Bank or Building Society so you don’t get charged again

The Exeter’s customer service team should be able to cancel your policy fairly quickly and if you run into any issues with this (e.g. still being charged) you’re definitely entitled to complain.

It can be useful to look at reviews from real-life customers of The Exeter before buying a policy, to check if there is anything mentioned that might put you off. The best place to look for totally independent reviews would be websites like Trustpilot.

Currently, The Exeter is rated 4.2 out of 5.0 stars on Trustpilot with over 760 reviews. It is also noted on the page that someone from The Exeter will reply to any negative reviews. Most negative reviews are replied to within less than a week and 95% of negative reviews have been replied to. To me, this would indicate a business that is keen to engage with customers and resolve issues, rather than brush them under the rug.

88% of reviewers rated The Exeter as 4.0 stars or higher and most positive reviews noted the friendly staff members, competitive prices and quick and easy processes.

Screenshot of The Exeter's Trustpilot page

Trustpilot – The Exeter Reviews

While factors like customer reviews are helpful, you should always consider the full picture including policy features and benefits and how they compare to other insurers. It can be worth taking longer to do some research and assess all your options before committing to a long term policy like life insurance.

Note: The Trustpilot score for The Exeter is accurate as of 29/01/2024 but can change over time as more reviews are added.

If you believe The Exeter is the best choice for your life insurance, you will need to apply with the help of a life insurance broker. While many other insurers allow you to apply by calling/emailing or through a comparison site (e.g. Go Compare), The Exeter doesn’t accept direct applications.

While this can take slightly longer compared to using a comparison site for example, a whole market insurance broker will be able to fully explain your options from every provider – not just The Exeter.

While The Exeter themselves will be able to give you all the relevant details about their own policies, they wouldn’t explain what options might be available from other providers.

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