NimbleFins' AXA Private Health Insurance Review: The Provider For You?

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AXA is one of the UK's leading insurance providers, offering cover for a variety of needs including car, travel, landlord and business insurance. With a presence in 54 countries and over 105 million customers worldwide to boot, AXA is certainly an international powerhouse.

But how do they fair when it comes to their private health insurance offer? In this review we'll take a deep dive into AXA's cover; what is and isn't included, optional add-ons, customer reviews and of course, just how much taking out a private health insurance plan with AXA will cost you.

In This Review

AXA Private Health Insurance: Overall Review

Starting out in 1940 as the Association for Hospital Services, AXA was founded by both doctors and hospitals with the aim of helping everyday people on everyday wages to access healthcare. In 2020, AXA combined some of it's existing brands (AXA PPP Healthcare, Health-on-Line and AXA ICAS) under the umbrella of 'AXA Health', one of the UK's leading private health insurance providers.

With over 80 years experience AXA certainly has impressive credentials, so it may come as no surprise that they have won multiple awards along the way. For example, they were named 'Best Health & Protection Technology Innovation' at the 2023 Health Insurance Awards and received a commendation in the Moneyfacts Health Insurance Provider of the Year category in 2023.

But what do AXA's customers themselves say? They have received a strong Trustpilot rating of 4.2 out of 5 across over 11,000 reviews, but nearly 1 in 6 customers rate them as 'bad' overall.

Of course, there are many more factors to take into account when looking for private health insurance, such as any exclusions and just how comprehensive the cover really is. Before we get to those, let's first take a look at the benefits of opting for AXA's private health insurance.

Why choose AXA Private Health Insurance?

AXA offers a range of benefits that might appeal to any new customer or those who are already familiar with private health insurance. Here are a few key ones we feel are worth knowing about:

  • Multi-award winning provider: AXA has an impressive set of accolades, including winning the Moneyfacts Consumer Awards 'Health Insurance Provider of the Year' and 'Best Individual Private Medical Insurance Provider' at the Health Insurance Awards, in previous years.
  • Flexible cover: AXA offers a range of policy add-ons, meaning you can tailor your cover to suit your healthcare needs
  • Free cover for new-borns and enhanced family and children's health insurance
  • 24/7 access: AXA offers around-the-clock access to their Doctor at Hand Digital GP service and their Health at Hand advice and support line
  • Access to latest licensed approved cancer drugs: even if they aren't available on the NHS

Customer Reviews and Ratings

AXA Customer Ratings

Trustpilot Rating4.2 out of 5

When it comes to the experts, independent analysts have awarded AXA's private health insurance with a coveted 5-star rating, indicating they consider it to be one of the best products on the market when taking into account their coverage and benefits.

But customer ratings are a little mixed to say the least. Whilst they have earned an impressive rating of 4.2 out of 5 on Trustpilot across over 11,000 reviews, which is 'great' overall, more than 15% said they had a 'bad' experience.

Let's take a closer look at what some of these reviews said...

What does AXA Private Health Insurance do well?

During our research we sifted through hundreds of pieces of feedback left by verified customers and we noticed a few things that AXA appear to be doing particularly well. Firstly, many customers praise AXA on. their quick and caring customer service, especially the recommendation provided by advisors and prompt call-back feature. Many have also commented on how easy it is to make a claim, and how willing AXA are to pay out.

"I was listened to, The issue was resolved quickly. Appointment was quick and easy to get. Operation and the stay in Nuffield made me feel like royalty couldn't do enough for you. Accessible and was able to park. Follow up recovery Appointments where brilliant. Phone calls and emails always answered fantastic communication. Everything explained every step of the way. All round fantastic experience!"

"Everyone I spoke to was friendly polite and helpful so far every treatment and consultation has been included in my cover, always best to check that it's covered prior to having either but I'm very impressed."

"It was my first claim and I was talked through everything by very kind staff. Sometimes I had to check as I forgot something and they were patient and talked me through. Only criticism was a lengthy delay to get through on the phone."

“I'd give AXA Health six stars if I could. They've been superb paying my stack of claims, and I'm eternally grateful for their outstanding service.The reason for all the numerous claims is the continuous referral/second opinions to other specialists...My appreciation for your patience, time and effort in dealing with my pursuit regarding my painful foot”

“The process to get an appointment was very straightforward and quick on their side (just needed the GP open letter). Payment was flawless: went to a pre-approved hospital, and they handled everything”

“Best private medical experience so far, fast and effective, provide all information needed. Quick solution to get problems resolved”

“Firstly, through the Doctor at Hand service, I couldn’t get an appointment with my regular GP, so they were able to provide an open referral. This was excellent and fast, a quick medical history was taken and then a letter provided via the app to send to the consultant and my GP...The process of checking what is covered is seamless and I really love the call back feature so that I don’t have to wait in a queue for someone to answer during my work day”

What could AXA Private Health Insurance improve?

There is always room for improvement, and AXA is no different. Whilst many customers highlighted a seamless experience with AXA, it appears there is a lack of consistency and many have been left frustrated at long waiting times and difficulty contacting their customer service team. Some have also highlighted issues with making a claim, first to be told they are covered and then that they are not, leaving them having to pay out of pocket at the end of it.

"Think again in using AXA, they send you cheques that take forever to arrive and often don't, your account never shows what has been deducted properly, I.T. system is a mess and to add insult to injury when you leave they renew you anyhow and take the money from your account"

“Was approved for diagnostic tests. Have had two consultant visits and an MRI and now they have changed their mind, leaving me with a large bill, I have to cover myself. It feels like AXA cover you until it starts to look like something serious may be going on and rescind their cover”

“Our company have Private healthcare and we have spent over three hours trying to get through. The wait times are as bad as the NHS so why bother to pay”

“I have being paying into my insurance for over 4 years and not made a single claim. now i have had to make a claim for lower back pain and to use an Osteopath. An Osteopath that is actually registered with AXA and one i was told i can use. only for AXA to write to me 2 treatments later and tell me that £60 per one hour session is too expensive!”

“Been trying get in touch with AXA and the waiting times are over 1 hour. I have tried 5 times and end up giving up. I tried to log a complaint on AXA website and this does not work either. If you are considering Health Insurance than Avoid AXA and they a useless!”

It is important to take the above reviews with a small pinch of salt. Whilst it certainly doesn't take away from the fact these customers were not happy with their overall experience, negative reviews left by frustrated customers can occasionally be a result of confusion over what they thought their policy covered.

Private health insurance is no easy field to navigate, and there is often a misunderstanding as to what kinds of treatment and events are covered and what are not — this is why reading your policy documentation prior to signing any agreement is crucial, and taking this step could mean preventing situations such as the above from happening to you. If at any point you have questions or queries then any insurance provider should be more than happy to answer these for you to offer you peace of mind.

How much is AXA Private Health Insurance?

We compiled quotes for AXA's health insurance based on the profile of a 35 year old male non-smoker from a mid-sized town in the UK. The prices shown below related to a no-frills single person plan (i.e. if you were looking to take insurance out for just yourself) with a £500 excess.

Private health insurance quote comparison for a 35 year old male non smoker (£month)
Aviva (Full cover)£48 (£200 excess)
AXA£36 (£500 excess)
Bupa (Comprehensive)£36 (£500 excess)
Aviva (Limited cover)£28 (£200 excess)
Bupa (Treatment and Care)£28 (£500 excess)

Remember, the above figures are intended as a guide only and reflect the customer profile stated above at this particular point in time. Remember, there are many things that can affect the cost of your premium, for example, reducing your excess or if you are a smoker. Let's take a closer look at what AXA's private health insurance offer consists of.

What is and isn't covered by AXA Private Health Insurance?

AXA offer the chance to tailor your health insurance policy to suit your individual needs — as standard, AXA's core cover includes the following:

  • In-patient and day-patient treatment: includes specialist fees, outpatient surgery, operating theatre charges, accommodation, and nursing care paid in full
  • Out-patient treatment: unlimited specialist consultations, diagnostic tests and practitioner charges when a specialist refers you
  • MRI, CT & PET scans: paid in full when at a hospital within our directory
  • Access to AXA's free health support phone line: these cover a range of topics ranging from allergies to mental health
  • Cancer cover and care during the active treatment of cancer: access to specialist-referred radiotherapy and chemotherapy when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer

Heart and cancer cover and care are subject to medical history and cover options chosen.

Optional extras

AXA also provides a comprehensive list of add-ons which are available alongside their core cover, at an extra cost allowing you to create a bespoke plan that is relevant to your needs:

  • Extended Out-patient Cover: AXA offer two additional levels of out-patient cover — 'Standard' which gives you up to three specialist consultations a year and no yearly limit on diagnostic tests or practitioner charges when you're referred by a recognized specialist and 'Full' which gives you no yearly limit for specialist consultations, diagnostic tests or recognized specialist referral and practitioner charges
  • Travel: provides European or Worldwide Travel Cover for emergency medical expenses abroad, including lost baggage cover, delays and lost passports as well as personal accident cover and cover for on-piste skiing.
  • Mental Health: gives you access to treatment for mental health conditions, including depression, including cover for out-patient consultations and fees when referred by a specialist and cover for both in- and day-patient treatment
  • Therapies: covers physiotherapy, osteopathy, homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment, with no yearly limit on charges for out-patient treatment from recognized professionals (max. 10 sessions)
  • Flexible Excess: AXA give you the option to change your overall excess (the amount you pay towards your treatment). Choose from £0, £100, £250 and £500 — remember, the higher the excess the lower your overall premium.

Exclusions: what isn't covered?

Private health insurance will not cover all eventualities, and this is true regardless of the provider you opt for. There are certain types of treatment and events that AXA will not cover which are good to be aware of. Note the full list is much longer than this so be sure to take a look at all exclusions in your policy documents, but here are some key ones we want to highlight:

  • Pre-existing conditions (i.e. any medical condition you had/had symptoms of prior to joining)
  • Chronic conditions (i.e. ongoing, recurrent and long-term conditions)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • GP referred diagnostics
  • Cosmetic treatments (note, there are exceptions in AXA's 'Enhanced Family Cover')
  • Treatment with specialists AXA do not recognize

Of course certain types of treatment might be excluded depending on the level of cover and any add-ons you have or have not chosen, too, and these will all be made clear in your policy documents.

How to make a claim on AXA Private Health Insurance

Making a claim on AXA's private health insurance needn't be difficult, and there a few steps you need to take to do so:

Visit your GP: your private health insurance kicks in as soon as they deem it appropriate to refer you on for specialist care
Ask for an 'open referral': this means your GP refers you on for specialist care but doesn't name a specific person to need to see
Contact AXA: Once you have this, contact AXA and they will review your plan to see if you are covered. Remember, if your GP has referred you on to a named specialist, you'll need to check with AXA to see if you are covered to see that person. If you're not you'll have to pay out of pocket

AXA will also ask you for some details in order to assess your claim. It's always good to ensure you have your GP referral letter and any other supporting documents to hand in case you need to provide this as evidence.

  • Claims related to back, joint or muscle pain: if your membership number starts with HOL call 0345 600 1292, otherwise call 0800 029 4236
  • Claims related to a mental health condition: if your membership number starts with HOL call 0345 600 1292, otherwise call 0800 521 903
  • All other claims (if you have a membership number): if it starts with AXA call 0800 027 1384, if it starts with HOL call 0345 600 1292
  • All other claims (if you don't have a membership number): call 0800 302 9133

You can also start a new claim using your AXA Member Online account, which you can access here at any time of day or night.

Get your treatment: as long as you are covered, you can go ahead to your specialist appointment. Just make sure you give them your AXA Health Membership number and the authorization given to you by AXA
Paying your claim and/or excess: AXA will typically settle any bills directly with the hospital or specialist who has treated you though in some cases they may contact you for further information. In any case, whenever you call to make a claim AXA will inform you whether there is an excess to pay. Once AXA has received the invoice for your treatment they will then cover this (minus any excess you are liable to pay) and will let you know how and when to pay your excess.

AXA Private Health Insurance: Discounts and Savings

AXA's ActivePlus retail site has closed down. We are unaware of any current promotions or discounts for AXA Health.

There are some other, simple tips and tricks you can use that may help you save some pennies along the way — we've put together a handy guide, so be sure to check it out here.


You will notice in your policy documents or simply when researching private health insurance there appear to be many different types of 'patient'. This can be very confusing, especially for first-time health insurance buyers! We've offered a simple explanation below that should help clear up any confusion.

  • In-patient: you are an in-patient if you need to attend hospital for treatment, and need to stay in overnight (or longer)
  • Out-patient: you are an out-patient if you attend a hospital or clinic but do not need to stay overnight
  • Day-patient: you are a day-patient if you need to attend a hospital or clinic for treatment but do not need to stay overnight. Unlike an out-patient you will also require medical observation for a short while after.

No — however, AXA will need to ask you questions about things such as your age, sex, medical history, lifestyle and occupation.

Yes! Comparing providers online is one of the best way to ensure you are getting the right level of cover for a price that suits you. We found AXA to be on many comparison sites such as ActiveQuote and Assured Futures.

AXA states in their policy documents that they do not offer cover for pre-existing conditions.

In fact, you will find that most private health insurance providers take this approach. Crucially, if you are aware of any symptoms that could cause problems in the future, you will need to disclose these right away.