Harry Ashton

By Harry Ashton

At Fairer Finance, we rate providers and products to encourage a 'race to the top'. Our customer experience ratings evaluate how well providers treat their customers and how transparent they are in their communications. Our product ratings, on the other hand, use a one to five star scale to assess the comprehensiveness of a product.

Comprehensiveness matters to customers. In our most recent survey of private medical insurance customers, we asked them why they were satisfied with their provider. 27% of respondents said they were happy because 'my policy includes a good level of cover' - this is the same proportion that gave 'relatively, it's low cost' as a reason for satisfaction (respondents could choose multiple options). This shows that when it comes to health insurance, customers don't simply pick the cheapest option - they want to know that they'll be covered when they make a claim.

To get five stars in our ratings, a product has to meet all of our 'red line' criteria. These red lines are product features that we consider important for customers. So, the more comprehensive an insurance product - that is, the broader the cover that it offers - the more likely it is to get five stars.

We deliberately make it hard for a product to meet all of our red line criteria and set a limit of 15% of products in any market that can get five stars. This is to make sure that only the most comprehensive products get our highest rating.

To get five stars in our new private medical insurance (PMI) product ratings, a policy has to have:

Comprehensive in-patient cover.

  • This means that there are no limits on the number of surgeries that are covered each year, and that all drugs, dressings and scans are fully covered. The policy must also include - or have the option of adding - in-patient mental health treatment.

Comprehensive out-patient cover.

  • This means that all out-patient scans are covered and that the policy either includes or has the option of adding out-patient physiotherapy and mental health treatment.

Comprehensive cancer care.

  • This means that the policy has full cover for chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as cover for genetic tests, bone strengthening drugs and monitoring after cancer treatment.

Other key benefits.

  • The policy must include unlimited video/telephone consultations with a GP.

  • The policy must provide cash benefits for policyholders receiving NHS treatment and for parents who are staying in accommodation while their child is in hospital.

  • The policyholder must not be forced to use a restricted hospital list (i.e. they should have a range of options for hospital lists).

  • The policyholder must not have to seek NHS treatment first (there are policies where treatment is covered only if the NHS cannot provide treatment within a certain period of time).

The policies that meet all of these criteria and so achieve our five-star rating are: AXA Personal Health, Bupa By You Comprehensive, The Exeter Health+ and Vitality Personal Healthcare.

Many products fall short of our red lines, however, as the chart below shows.

This reveals the importance of reading carefully when shopping for private medical insurance, since the policy you buy may not have all the product features you expected.

You can see the full product ratings tables for PMI here.

Our full PMI product ratings methodology is available here.

We're always keen to get feedback on our ratings, to make sure they're fair to providers as well as being useful for customers. If you have any comments or feedback, please fill out this survey or contact corporate@fairerfinance.com