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. They are recognized by Feefo as a Platinum Trusted Service Provider and were named 'Best Individual Private Medical Insurance Provider' and 'Health Insurance Provider of the Year' at the 2017 Health Insurance Awards and 2018 Moneyfacts Consumer Awards respectively.

But what do AXA's customers themselves say? Well, the jury is still out to a degree — whilst they have received a glowing Feefo rating of 4.6 out of 5, they score only 3.8 out of 5 on Trustpilot across 2,500 reviews with almost a quarter of customer rating 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 Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award, Moneyfacts Consumer Awards 'Health Insurance Provider of the Year' (2018) and 'Best Individual Private Medical Insurance Provider' at the 2017 Health Insurance Awards
  • 5 star Defaqto rated cover
  • 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

Defaqto Rating

5 out of 5

Feefo Rating

4.6 out of 5

Trustpilot Rating

3.8 out of 5

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

When we look at customer ratings these are a little more mixed to say the least. Whilst they have earned an impressive rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Feefo across nearly 400 reviews, they average 3.8 out of 5 on Trustpilot across a large sample size of 2500 customers. Whilst Trustpilot themselves recognize this rating as representing a 'great' customer experience, we found that almost a quarter of these verified customers rated AXA as 'bad' which we feel is important to note.

This does not take away from the fact that over 60% of customers indicated they had an 'excellent' experience with AXA's private health insurance, but worth keeping in mind that some consumers appear to have had a less than positive experience overall. 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'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.

“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: this includes private hospital and pay-patient unit fees at any facility in AXA's Directory of Hospitals, specialist fees from any specialist that has been pre-approved by AXA, operating theatre charges and cancer treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment
  • Out-patient treatment: no yearly limit for out-patient surgery, and this includes CT, MRI and PER scans paid in full at any hospital or scanning centre in AXA's Directory of Hospitals, if you are referred by a specialist
  • Hospital accommodation: AXA will pay for one parent whilst their child is receiving private treatment
  • Hotel costs: AXA will cover up to £100 a night (£500 per year limit) towards a close relative or friend staying in a nearby hotel whilst a member is undergoing private treatment
  • Access to AXA's Doctor at Hand service: enables you to schedule telephone or video consultation with a GP registered to this service
  • Access to expert advice: as standard, you will also gain direct telephone access to AXA's Health at Hand support line, a team of nurses and counsellors available to answer any questions
  • Access to AXA's free online Health Centres: these cover a range of topics ranging from allergies to mental health

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
  • NHS Cancer Support: AXA's core cover provides you with full cover for treatment, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, licensed cancer drugs and unlimited out-patient treatment after diagnosis with the specialist treating you. You can reduce the cost of your core cover by opting for NHS Cancer Support, meaning you will need to have your treatment on the NHS. This will also provide cover for licensed cancer drugs which are not available on the NHS
  • Dentist and Optician Cashback: AXA will give you cashback for some of the costs charged by dentists or opticians, e.g. 80% of dentist fees (£400 yearly limit), 80% of the cost of prescribed glasses or contact lenses (£200 yearly limit)
  • 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. Note, this does not cover cancellation or travel disruption as a result of covid-19 for any future trip or that which has already been booked, terms and exclusions apply
  • Extended Cover: gain access to hospitals outside of AXA's Directory, pre-agreed treatment overseas paid up to a comparable level for the same treatment in the UK. AXA also include a Private GP benefit consisting of up to £500 per year for visits to a GP for consultation
  • 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)
  • Private treatment of cancer (unless you have Comprehensive Cancer Cover)
  • 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

There are a range of benefits that AXA offer its private health insurance customers.

  • Guided Option: when purchasing or obtaining quotes through their website, AXA gives you the option to choose 'Guided option'. By doing so you'll benefit from a reduction in your annual subscription simply by using AXA's Fast Track Appointments service. Put simply, all treatment will be with a specialist AXA has chosen for you — all you need to do is request an open referral from your GP every time, and AXA will book in an appointment at a time and place that suits you. Note, this option can't be taken out if you have choosen AXA's Extended Cover
  • Well-being incentives: if you take out private health insurance with AXA, you could be entitled to exclusive discounts on certain products and services to promote your health and well-being. You can check these out on AXA's ActivePlus site.

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.

FAQs

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 though we would recommend ActiveQuote and Assured Futures to start with, as these are recognized to be some of the best on the market.

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.

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