Who is Vitality health insurance?
Vitality has been offering health insurance in the UK since 2014, when its parent company, Discovery UK, acquired PruHealth. They currently operate in 30 countries worldwide, although, for this guide, I'll focus on their health insurance offering for businesses in the UK.
Vitality's main aim is to help their health insurance customers to live healthier, happier lives, and their focus on healthy living goes to the heart of their health insurance policies and rewards scheme.
What does Vitality offer to businesses?
Vitality health insurance is available to self-employed people and businesses of all sizes. Their policies offer coverage and support services that reflect the demands of different-sized companies. For example, their health insurance for larger businesses includes access to health insights and support to help you develop a wellness strategy for your workforce.
Their self-employed health insurance allows you to access private healthcare as a sole trader, while their health insurance for small and medium-sized businesses is available for limited companies with between one and 249 employees. This differs from most business health insurance offerings as insurers typically only offer coverage to companies with a minimum of two employees.
You can opt for a corporate policy if your business has over 100 employees, which gives you the flexibility to choose the policy that works best for the needs of your business.
How private health insurance benefits your business
Private health insurance enables you and your employees to access high-quality private health care when needed. It allows your employees to avoid NHS waiting lists, access treatment and get back to work. Clearly, that has benefits for your business in terms of reduced absenteeism. However, health insurance is a highly valued benefit that makes your employees feel more valued and allows you to attract the best people.
What do Vitality's business health insurance policies include?
The coverage you'll get with the various Vitality health insurance business policies is broadly similar. However, some key differences between each type of policy will impact its suitability for your company.
Self-employed health insurance
If you're self-employed, the success of your business could rest entirely on your shoulders. Vitality offers health insurance focused on helping you avoid ill health while still having quick access to private health care when needed. Of course, health insurance won't replace your lost income if you need to take time off work, but it should minimise your time away.
Here's what's included.
Vitality's core medical insurance includes all the coverage you'd expect as standard.
In-patient and day-patient treatment
Coverage includes surgery and anaesthetist fees, diagnostic tests, and scans carried out in the hospital.
Every Vitality health insurance policy includes advanced cancer coverage, which covers eligible treatment costs, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and follow-up consultations. In addition, other therapies, including stem cell treatment and hormone and biological therapies, are fully covered. You'll also get contributions towards wigs, mastectomy bras, prostheses, end-of-life nursing care at home, and discounted cancer screening for bowel and cervical cancer.
Mental health support
The core cover provides online mental health support and talking therapies.
Video GP appointments
You can book an online appointment with a GP that fits your schedule. Vitality states that you'll be able to make an appointment within 48 hours.
Vitality's rewards programme incentivises healthier living long-term. While most of the UK's leading providers include a rewards programme, Vitality's goes a step further, allowing you to earn points and increase your rewards and discounts. You can earn points for healthy habits, which translates into discounts from various retailers, including Amazon, Fitbit, Champneys spas and Waitrose.
You can also earn up to 10% of your premiums back when you renew your policy, saving you some serious cash.
Optional extras allow you to tailor your private health insurance policy to your circumstances.
It's worth paying extra to add outpatient cover to your private health insurance. It enables you to see a consultant privately and access diagnostic tests and scans to give you a quick diagnosis. With it, you'll be able to access private treatment once you've been diagnosed via the NHS and confirmed the treatment you'll need. In addition, outpatient cover lets you have other private treatments, such as physiotherapy.
Add a hospital list
Vitality's core cover lets you choose your treating consultant from a list of ten offered when you make a claim. If you'd like more choice over where you receive your hospital treatment and which consultant treats you, you can add a hospital list to your policy.
You can choose the Countrywide list, which includes private hospitals from other private providers and NHS private patient units across the UK, including some in Central London. Alternatively, the London Care hospital list provides access to all approved private hospitals in the UK and all NHS private patient units. The Countrywide list gives you two face-to-face GP appointments in London, whilst the London Care list covers unlimited face-to-face GP appointments.
This extends your coverage for private therapies to include alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
Additional mental health cover
Additional mental health cover provides unlimited talking therapies cover and higher coverage limits for outpatient and hospital treatment.
Dental, optical and hearing cover
If you aren't entitled to free dental check-ups, eye tests or hearing tests on the NHS, it's worth comparing the cost of a dental, optical and hearing plan to see if it could save you money in the long term. Vitality's optical cover pays for eye tests, glasses and contact lenses if your prescription changes, although the level of coverage varies depending on which optician you choose.
You can also claim back the total cost of routine dental check-ups and treatment for accidental damage, along with 80% of the cost of hearing tests, hearing aids and other dental treatment costs.
Worldwide travel cover
A standard private health insurance plan only pays for treatment in the UK. However, it may be worth adding worldwide travel cover to your policy if you travel regularly. You'll be able to access private emergency treatment overseas and claim for travel disruption, including cancelled flights or lost luggage.
Small business health insurance
Vitality health insurance for small and medium businesses is available to companies with between one and 249 employees. This differs from most group health insurance policies which typically only insure a minimum of two employees.
Here's what's included.
- In-patient and day-patient treatment, including all of your employees' private hospital fees, eligible surgery costs and consultant fees when admitted to a hospital.
- Cancer cover will cover all cancer treatment costs but not the initial diagnosis.
- Up to eight face-to-face counselling sessions or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Vitality GP online GP appointments plus up to £100 for private prescriptions or diagnostic tests provided or recommended as a follow-up to a Vitality GP consultation.
- Cashback if your employee spends a night in an NHS hospital bed.
- Cover for pregnancy complications and a cash benefit when your employee gives birth or adopts a child.
- Oral surgery - even if you don't have a dental plan.
- Rehabilitation after a stroke or brain injury.
- Private ambulance cover.
If you decide to extend cover or give your employees the option to add their children to the policy, they'll also be able to claim accommodation costs if their child is admitted to the hospital. The policy can also cover 75% of the cost of a corrective surgical procedure or weight loss surgery, with the policyholder covering the other 25%. These are subject to health criteria and age limits, with most corrective surgeries only available to people under 21.
Adding outpatient cover to your business health insurance gives your employees many additional benefits, including fast access to an initial diagnosis. Outpatient cover also pays for treatments, including physiotherapy. You can choose from different levels of coverage by applying a financial limit or opting for comprehensive cover. There's also a lot of flexibility in the coverage, with tailored options to increase the number of physiotherapy sessions an employee can receive or guarantee full cover for diagnostic tests.
Enhanced mental health cover
The core cover provides up to eight face-to-face treatment sessions, but you can opt to provide additional treatment if it's an issue for your team or if you work in a high-stress environment.
The additional cover includes in-patient or day-patient psychiatric care, further CBT treatment, counselling sessions and outpatient consultations.
If you'd like to extend the types of treatment your employees can opt for, you can add coverage for various alternative therapies. These include osteopathy, chiropody, acupuncture, homoeopathy and chiropractic treatment.
Dental, optical and hearing cover
This optional extra contributes to the cost of routine eye tests, hearing tests, dental checks, and follow-up dental treatment. It will also pay for hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses if your employees' prescription has changed. There's a small but essential difference between the coverage available here and the self-employed health insurance plan in that it only contributes towards the cost of eye tests and treatment for any dental accidents. On the plus side, there's more coverage available for hearing aids and dental treatment.
Emergency cover for business trips overseas
If your employees regularly travel abroad on business, it's worth providing them additional travel insurance, particularly if they spend extended periods overseas. Most standard travel policies will cover up to 31 days, so your employees won't be covered if they're away for longer.
Vitality's emergency overseas cover funds emergency medical treatment for your employee, whether working or on holiday. That could make it a valuable employee perk in its own right, even when you factor in the £50 excess your employee will need to pay. It covers trips of up to 120 days and includes repatriation costs and burial or cremation costs outside the UK. The only downside is that it doesn't cover some elements you'd usually expect with travel insurance, such as cancellation fees, travel disruption or lost bags. They'll only be covered if you opt for worldwide travel cover, which covers emergency medical treatment for trips of up to 120 days and gives you access to vaccinations and preventative treatments that you'd need to pay for via the NHS. I must admit to being slightly puzzled that these are offered as two separate options. However, it allows you to tailor your coverage to the finer details.
Employee Assistance Programme
Vitality's focus on health and wellbeing means that your employees can access wellbeing resources and rewards for healthy living. However, the optional employee assistance programme provides a telephone helpline that operates 24/7, 365 days a year, offering practical, confidential support for emotional, legal and financial issues. It's an independent service which can give your employees peace of mind and the ability to speak in confidence. Your staff can also receive up to six counselling sessions each year.
Corporate health insurance
Corporate cover offers the same levels of coverage as Vitality's small business health insurance but provides additional resources to help you manage a larger workforce. It's available to businesses with more than 100 employees, so if you have between 100 and 249 staff, you can opt for either policy, choosing the features that you need most.
Vitality's health insurance for larger businesses focuses on flexibility and allows you to tailor almost every element of your coverage to give you all the benefits of private health insurance. Their corporate health insurance brochure has more details on the options available.
The core coverage and optional extras on the corporate policy are broadly consistent with those available on the small business policy, so I won't go over them again here. However, a few additional items are covered by this policy.
Members of the corporate plan can access Togetherall, a platform providing tools and support that enable users to improve their mental wellbeing and the Headspace mindfulness app.
Your employees can complete an online self-referral for access to physiotherapy and mental health support without a referral from a GP.
Vitality Health insurance has teamed up with Peppy to support your employees through menopause. Menopause can result in physical and psychological symptoms, from hot flashes to brain fog, so a range of tools is available. These include peer support, online or phone consultations, instant messaging and treatment referrals, all bookable via a convenient app.
The Vitality Care service supports employees with complex or ongoing claims and helps them to get the best out of their coverage. Female cancer patients who have had private treatment can also claim their place on a two-day group retreat at Champneys spa, which includes sessions designed to support them through the treatment's physical, psychological and emotional side effects.
Every medical insurance policy has exclusions which your policy won't cover. Some of these are standard exclusions, whilst others depend on your medical history.
Vitality's list of exclusions is similar to that of other insurers and includes the following:
- Emergency treatment
- Cosmetic surgery
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Birth control
- Infertility treatment
- Treatment for alcohol or drug addiction
- Chronic conditions that need long-term monitoring and treatment.
Pre-existing conditions that needed advice or treatment before an employee joined the plan will also be excluded unless you opt for medical history disregarded underwriting, which is only available on small business or corporate plans.
Benefits of Vitality health insurance
Vitality focuses on helping its members to achieve a healthy lifestyle. It puts its money where its mouth is, with up to a 10% discount on premiums for self-employed customers and cashback for small business customers when they hit their points target. Corporate customers can also access support tools to help them manage their employees' wellbeing.
How the Vitality programme works
The Vitality programme sets Vitality health insurance apart from its competitors and is the main advantage when you compare Vitality's policies to those of other major health insurance providers. It's available to all health insurance and business health insurance customers and allows members to earn Vitality points which translate into rewards and discounts from a range of businesses. The plan rewards healthy habits, including healthy eating, exercise and taking care of your mental health.
When you buy an eligible policy, you and your employees can earn Vitality points by registering for Vitality's member zone and linking an activity tracker. The rewards you receive increase based on the number of points you earn.
How do you earn Vitality points?
Have a health check
You can earn points by completing Vitality's online health review, which will give you your Vitality age and recommend some health goals to focus on. The healthier you are when you complete the check, the more points you'll receive.
You'll also receive points when you have a fitness assessment at Virgin Active.
Get some exercise
Receiving points for activity relies on your employees being able to prove how active they are. Vitality has partnership deals with several health clubs, including Virgin Active, PureGym and Nuffield, where members can earn points every time they attend. The obvious disadvantage of this is that your employees may not be able to earn points if they prefer to exercise at their local independent gym.
However, they can earn points using linked activity trackers based on your heart rate, calorie burn or step count. The tracker you use needs to be a specific type; however, they have partnerships with most of the leading brands. Activity points are also available to members who regularly participate in their local Parkrun event, a free 5k race at over 1,100 locations in the UK.
Take care of your mental health
Vitality recognises that mental health and wellbeing are just as important as physical health, so it offers a 12-month subscription to the Headspace app, which provides guided meditations to help with overall wellbeing, sleep and specific health concerns.
Members can earn points by using the app for ten minutes each day.
What kind of rewards are available?
Most of the rewards available under the programme are linked to living a healthy lifestyle. These include discounted gym memberships, smoking cessation programmes, mindfulness and meditation apps and fitness-tracking tech. However, you can also treat yourself to a coffee or a discounted spa break. Earn more points, and you'll increase your Vitality status and earn discounts on travel and boutique hotel stays.
The programme also includes cashback on some purchases if you meet the required activity levels., For example, you can earn cashback on the Peloton bike by completing regular 20-minute workouts.
Wellbeing support for larger businesses
Monitoring your employees' wellbeing allows you to provide tailored support to prevent ill health before it arises, but that can be challenging when you have a large workforce.
Vitality's corporate coverage includes health checks for all members, along with annual health reviews and gives you insights into their overall health and wellbeing. You'll also have access to a client manager who'll help you evaluate the results and tailor your wellbeing strategy.
Disadvantages of Vitality medical insurance
There are few significant disadvantages to a Vitality policy, although some of their less favourable reviews mention issues with the claims process and customer services; more on that shortly. Their exclusions are similar to other insurance providers. The only real disadvantage I could find in terms of healthcare provision was the limited access to face-to-face GP appointments. They're only provided in London and are restricted to a phone or video call elsewhere. If your employees need a face-to-face appointment outside London due to the complexity of their condition or the nature of their symptoms, this could mean that they have to wait longer or take time off work to see their NHS GP.
Vitality's rewards scheme and the associated discounts also rely on your employees being able to provide evidence of their activity levels. If they're active but aren't fans of the gym or if the budget won't stretch to a fitness tracker, even with a discount, they won't be able to prove how active they are and earn the rewards.
Vitality's reviews on Trustpilot give them a solid 3.9* rating, with 67% of their 26,630 reviews giving them a 5* rating.
Their positive reviews describe excellent insurance coverage, helpful customer service staff and competitive prices. In addition, Vitality makes a courtesy phone call to all new customers to help with any issues, and this is generally appreciated.
Many reviews describe difficulties setting up online access to their rewards account and linking a fitness tracker. The good reviews show that, in most cases, the courtesy call has enabled them to resolve this. However, customers leaving negative reviews describe having issues for several months without help or support.
The negative reviews describe two main problem areas. First, the claims process is described as slow, and some customers have had several claims rejected. It's unclear why this is; pre-existing conditions aren't covered, so if a customer has opted for moratorium underwriting, their medical history will only be checked when they make a claim, which can slow things down. Slow telephone service is also frequently mentioned, with some reviewers describing being on hold for lengthy periods before being cut off.
Whilst most reviews are positive, it may be worth checking what support will be available should you or your employees face any of these issues before you decide whether to take out a policy.
Getting professional advice
Vitality is just one health insurance provider. So while you may be impressed with what you've read so far, it's a good idea to compare insurers to discover whether Vitality's health coverage meets your needs. Contact Globacare for a comparison quote and impartial advice tailored to your business.
Frequently asked questions
How many employees do I need to take out a business policy?
Vitality offers business healthcare cover for self-employed people and businesses with one or more employees. Business health cover is typically only available for companies with two or more employees, so it may enable you to get cheaper monthly premiums than you'd find on an individual policy.
What's the process for claiming with Vitality?
You can make a claim online or via Vitality's app, where you can also book virtual GP appointments, specialist and counselling appointments. Your employees can also use the Care Hub to self-refer for physiotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
Are there any online tools I can use as an employer?
A business policy gives you access to an online employer hub that makes it easier to add new recruits to your scheme and remove employees who have left.
How does Vitality's rewards programme work?
When new employees join your policy, they must create an online account in the Member Zone and link a fitness tracking device. They'll then be able to earn points, which will give them discounts on various products and services.
Can a Vitality Health insurance policy help me to save money?
The cost of a business healthcare policy can increase employee engagement and retention and reduce workplace absence. It can also allow your employees to save money. Vitality's ROI calculator helps you look at the potential savings in detail.
Are there any alternatives to business health insurance with Vitality?
Vitality offers Vitality at Work Business (for companies with 10-249 employees) and Vitality at Work Enterprise (for companies with 1000+ employees) as an alternative to health insurance. Members can access unlimited online GP appointments, physiotherapy and up to eight counselling sessions with no exclusions. They'll also receive an annual health check which gives you insights into the health of your workforce and allows you to create a wellbeing strategy supported by Vitality's Workplace Wellbeing team. They'll also receive some benefits from the rewards programme, including discounted gym memberships.