The Exeter Private Health Insurance Review: The Right Cover For You?


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The Exeter offers a range of products and services to its customers, such as life insurance, income protection and, of course, private health insurance. In the world of private health insurance The Exeter might be a name you are less familiar with, and this is something that they are in some ways proud of.

Instead of investing in huge advertising and marketing campaigns The Exeter prefers to sell their policies through financial advisors, who in their words "ensure families get the best possible cover".

So how does The Exeter compare to the likes of it's big-name rivals, such as Bupa, AXA and Aviva? In this review we'll break down all the key elements of their private health insurance offer including what is and isn't covered, customer reviews and how their costs compares to the rest of the market. We hope at the end of this article you have all the information you need to determine whether The Exeter is the private health insurance provider for you.

In This Review

The Exeter Private Health Insurance: Overall Review

The Exeter's roots can be traced back to 1927, meaning they have been providing healthcare and protection policies for nearly 100 years! Whilst initially The Exeter only sold private medical insurance and income protection, they have since expanded their offer to include cash plan schemes and life insurance, too. This experience comes with an impressive balance sheet, and they are considered by many to be a highly reputable company.

Not only have The Exeter accumulated experience, they have also accumulated some awards and recognition along the way. In 2019, The Exeter were awarded 'Best Private Medical Insurance' at the Cover Customer Care Awards, and a year prior were highly commended for 'Best Individual Private Medical Insurance' and 'Best Healthcare Service' at the Cover Excellence Awards and the ILP Moneyfacts Awards respectively.

Not only that, they have been recognized by independent experts for their comprehensive cover and stability. Analysts Defaqto have awarded their private health insurance with a coveted 5 stars, indicating The Exeter provides one of the best private health insurance policies on the market. Similarly, they have earned a financial strength rating of B- from AKG, meaning they are seen to be more than capable of meeting the demand of its customers.

Speaking of their customers, what do they have to say about The Exeter? Well, given the company is less well-known than some of its rivals, customer reviews are more difficult to come by. In fact, the only robust rating we could find was from Trustpilot, where they scored an 'excellent' 4.5 out of 5 across over 550 reviews.

This is certainly impressive, however, this Trustpilot rating is for The Exeter as a company rather than its private health insurance specifically. That being said, given they have been scored highly by the experts too, it could be considered a good indication of how the company operates.

Health insurance is a complex product, and there is far more to it than expert and customer ratings. We need to take a look at the ins-and-outs of their cover, customer testimonials as well as their price and how it compares to the rest of the market. Before we jump into this let's first take a look at some of the benefits that come with The Exeter's private health insurance.

Why choose The Exeter Private Health Insurance?

For those unfamiliar with The Exeter, it's safe to say that there are some desirable benefits to opting for their private health insurance. Here are a few of the best we feel it's worth knowing about:

  • 5-star Defaqto rated cover
  • Award-winning provider
  • Excellent customer reviews
  • Healthwise app: with The Exeter's free members app, Healthwise, you gain access to quick and convenient medical advice and treatment. This includes remote GP appointments, a second medical opinion and mental health support
  • A range of flexible add-ons: tailor you policy to suit your specific healthcare needs but choosing from a range of optional extras and various levels of cover provided by The Exeter

Customer Reviews and Ratings

The Exeter Customer Ratings

Defaqto Rating

5 out of 5 (private health insurance specific)

Trustpilot Rating

4.5 out of 5

During our research we found it more difficult than usual to find robust ratings and reviews. This is likely due to the fact it's a smaller, less well-known insurer than some of the other (much larger!) names on the market. However, what we did find is encouraging.

Experts from Defaqto have recognized The Exeter's private health insurance to be far better than the market average, in fact, it's perfect 5-star rating indicates it is considered to be one of the best offers around! It's not just the experts that have been singing their praises, either. The Exeter's customers appear to have an overwhelming positive experience, racking up an 'excellent' customer experience rating of 4.5 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

Whilst the latter is not specifically about The Exeter's private health insurance, rather the company as a whole, given it is based on over 550 customer reviews we think this is a good sign. Take it with a slight pinch of salt but this excellent rating signals to us that the majority of customers are very happy with their experience using The Exeter's services, so we can tentatively presume the same can be said for its private health insurance, too.

Let's take a closer look at what The Exeter's verified customers have to say...

What does The Exeter Private Health Insurance do well?

During our research we sifted through hundreds of pieces of feedback left by verified customers. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive, and the key standouts for us are The Exeter's customer service team who appear to go above and beyond to support their customers.

Their advisors are described by many to be helpful, clear and well informed — these are all qualities that can make a huge difference if you're worried about your health.

"I am a long standing older member and have dealt with the Exeter on many occasions for both myself and my wife...Exeter has always given exceptional service its rules are clear and explicit, the reception staff are courteous and well informed. I have had experience with four other private health insurers and none begin to compare for service or value for money"

"Unfailingly helpful and supportive, The Exeter offers solutions to health problems that are increasingly difficult to resolve. A big thank you"

"We have had to seek advice on some health matters, and on each occasions have found that the response has been prompt and courteous and the support given was sound. An excellent company to have to interact with, and gives us confidence that should the need arise, they will be there with appropriate help and guidance"

"I got cancer (prostate), and the wheels came off the bus in regards to reactions to the hormone treatment. The Exeter has been phenomenal and very supportive. I am a business person and have a PA, and Exeter allowed her to coordinate my treatments. I am over 70 and pay a lot for my premiums, but the Exeter gives me confidence that I will be looked after for both my insurance and health issues"

What could The Exeter Private Health Insurance improve?

Whilst feedback was overwhelmingly positive, there are few areas customers highlighted could be improved. From our research, most negative reviews were left due to lengthly claims processes involving lots of back-and-forth between medical professionals, the customer and The Exeter, as well as some confusion over what the policy actually covered.

"Mis sold a policy where I was told any claims can be made via a GP referral letter. Submitted claim as per guidance in August for mental health support but I've had nothing grief since. Refusing to pay out due to GP not having a specific date of when my symptoms started - this wasn't asked for by the GP and therefore isn't recorded on the system. They're now trying to make out this is a pre existing condition - it's not"

"My claim in 2013 was rejected because I'd had trouble with my stomach in the past, even though I was claiming for something completely unrelated. For some reason, Exeter tried to tie the two together even though there was no medical reasoning behind this - after I formally complained, this was independently reviewed and my claim was accepted in full"

"I returned to take a policy with Exeter in 2020..unfortunately had to claim for my son..I called to confirm validity of claim and was told I just needed a referral letter from the GP but that the condition was covered. I subsequently got the referral, as well as a specialists medical report (costing £200) to confirm the condition, and then contacted Exeter to claim. Unfortunately, after a review of the Policy Wording, they now could not cover the condition, so the entire exercise was a waste of time"

How much is The Exeter Private Health Insurance?

Private health insurance quote comparison for a 35 year old male non smoker (£month)

Aviva (Full cover)

£48 (£200 excess)

The Exeter

£37 (£500 excess)

AXA

£36 (£500 excess)

Bupa (Comprehensive)

£36 (£500 excess)

Vitality

£35 (£500 excess)

Aviva (Limited cover)

£28 (£200 excess)

Bupa (Treatment and Care)

£28 (£500 excess)

When comparing sample quotes for various providers we found The Exeter to be the second most expensive overall. However, when you consider how it compares to its competitors we are really talking about just a couple of extra pounds a month.

So what do you get for these extra pennies? Well, The Exeter does offer a very comprehensive level of cover — complete cancer cover, private ambulance costs, outpatient surgery, home nursing and parent accommodation... and you'll find most of these are unlimited! They also offer NHS cash benefits, too.

There are some downsides to their cover, however. For example, The Exeter will not cover the costs of experimental cancer drugs that aren't clinically approved by NICE, unlike other providers such as Bupa, so you'll need to weigh up how important this is to you. Also, The Exeter appear to offer less discounts compared to its rivals. Whilst you will get access to their app, which offers services like remote GP appointments, you may miss out on savings on gym memberships for example.

Let's take a closer look at what is and isn't included in their cover...

What is and isn't covered?

As part of their core cover the Exeter includes the following as standard in their private health insurance offer:

  • In-patient and day-patient treatment (unlimited): this covers consultant and specialist fees, diagnostic tests and hospital charges, including any necessary medical aids or take-home drugs
  • Out-patient surgery (unlimited): covers surgical procedures performed by a specialist any hospital on your chosen list
  • Complete cancer cover (unlimited): covers treatment and specialist consultation for diagnosed cancer, as well as full cover for surgery and all types of drug therapy including chemotherapy and drugs to maintain remission (providing they are NICE approved). The Exeter also offer a £250 donation to a hospital if a member is admitted for care
  • Private ambulance (unlimited): The Exeter will cover you for any medically essential travel to, between and from hospital in connect with any in-patient or day-patient treatment you require
  • Home nursing (unlimited): following authorized in-patient and day-patient treatment
  • Parent accommodation (unlimited): if your child (up to the age of 18) is having treatment under the health insurance policy, The Exeter will cover the costs of your stay
  • Post-operative physiotherapy (up to 3 sessions): covers you as an out-patient following in-patient, day-patient or out-patient surgery
  • NHS cash benefit (£150 per night, up to 30 nights): this is paid to you if you have received free in-patient treatment, including cancer treatment, under the NHS that would be covered under your policy

Optional extras

In addition to their core cover, The Exeter provides a range of add-ons you can purchase alongside your main policy. These give you additional coverage so think carefully about your own circumstances and healthcare needs to determine whether these are necessary:

  • Out-patient cover: The Exeter gives you the option to include out-patient cover, you can choose £500 or £1000 limits per policy year, or alternatively, can opt for their unlimited option. This covers the cost of specialist consultation fees, diagnostic tests (e.g. X-rays), ECGs and pathology tests at any hospital on your chosen hospital list
  • Therapies: this covers the cost of GP or specialist referred treatment by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath to name but a few. Choose between up to £500 or £1000 limit per policy year, or their unlimited option
  • Mental health: this includes any specialist fees and diagnostic tests you require as an in-patient or day-patient, though note this is limited to 28 days for each member each policy year, and valid at any psychiatric hospital on your chosen hospital list. This also covers specialist consultation fees for psychiatric treatment as an out-patient

Choose your cover limit

The Exeter, as with most private health insurance providers, give you the freedom to pick and choose the limits and level of cover (in this case, the hospitals you're allowed to use) that best suit your needs. These can have a significant impact on your overall premium and can be an easy way to reduce costs overall.

This is the amount you as the policyholder pay towards eligible treatment costs each policy year. You can choose from a range of limits — £0, £100, £250, £500, £1000, £3000 or £5000.

Adjusting these excess limits can, in theory, be an easy way of saving on your overall premium. For example, by increasing the level of excess you pay towards a claim you can drastically reduce the cost of your insurance for the year. Similarly, opting for the most basic hospital cover will offer you these same financial benefits.

It is important to remember that there are pros and cons to this, however. For example, whilst choosing basic hospital cover may save you some money overall, it might mean having to travel further for treatment should you need it (which can be expensive!).

As always, think very carefully about your own circumstances and healthcare needs to ensure you are getting adequate protection. If in doubt, any insurer or insurance broker will happily answer any questions you may have so be sure to take advantage of this.

The Exeter offer three different options to choose from, and you are only eligible for treatment at hospitals on your chosen list —

  • Essential: includes hospitals from the largest hospital groups and NHS private patient units
  • Standard: extends the coverage of the Essential list to include independent hospitals and clinics
  • Extended: offers the widest choice and provides access to a greater number of London hospitals

You can see which hospitals fall into each category by visiting The Exeter's site here.

Exclusions: what isn't included

As with any type of insurance, there are a range of events that you won't be covered for. We've listed some of the main exclusions to be aware of when thinking about taking out health insurance with The Exeter, but note the full list will be much longer and will always be detailed in your policy documentation.

  • Emergency treatment: in an A&E unit or other urgent care centre
  • Experimental treatment: this includes treatment or drug therapy not clinically approved by NICE
  • Learning and developmental disorders: this includes treatment, investigations, assessment or grading related to a range of learning and developmental disorders such as ADHD and Autism Spectrum disorders
  • Major organ transplants: note, The Exeter do cover corneal and skin grafts as well as transplants related to cancer provided they are not experimental
  • Mental and psychological treatment: unless your policy includes the mental health benefit add-on
  • Treatments in nursing homes: note, this exclusion does not apply to cancer treatment
  • Pregnancy and fertility
  • Alcohol, drug and substance abuse
  • Cosmetic and plastic surgery
  • Bariatric and weight loss surgery
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Chronic (i.e. long-term) conditions
  • Professional sports injuries
  • Renal dialysis
  • Sex change or gender re-assignment
  • Sight, hearing or dental disorders
  • Treatment by a GP, optician or dentist
  • Treatment overseas

How to make a claim on The Exeter Private Health Insurance

If you wish to make a claim on The Exeter's private health insurance the steps involved are typical of most health insurance providers. We've detailed these below so you know what to expect:

If you need to see a specialist or get treatment, your GP will refer you. This may be an open referral (recommended), where they do not name a hospital or doctor to carry out your treatment, or it can be named where these details are specified. Where a referral is made you should contact The Exeter on 0300 123 3253 with details of the referral. They will also need a copy of the GP's referral letter.

After your consultation you will need to let The Exeter team know the outcome and if necessary, they will contact your specialist to request details of any required treatment.

The Exeter will confirm with you what is covered under your policy. Providing there are no issues here you can then process to any treatment or diagnostic tests you have been recommended.

The Exeter will usually settle your bill directly with your healthcare provider but they will let you know if any payments are due from you and who these need to be paid to, for example if you have an excess on your plan.

The Exeter Private Health Insurance: Discounts and Savings

Whilst we were unable to find any specific discounts or savings (at the time of writing) offered by The Exeter, members can benefit from the availability of their Healthwise app, which is accessible from anywhere in the world:

  • Remote GP appointments (up to four consultations per year): you can book phone or video consultations through Healthwise. The service offers clinical advice and guidance and GP's can issue prescriptions or recommend further treatment if required
  • Second medical opinion (up to two consultations per year): you can access a second medical opinion if desired
  • Physiotherapy (up to six consultations per year): with Healthwise you gain access to a network of physiotherapists where you can get the help you need via video consultation
  • Mental health support (up to six consultations per year): you gain access to fully trained specialists who can offer advice and support, assessment and treatment of a variety of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The service is provided by video consultation with therapists through the app
  • Registered dietitian consultations (up to six per year): with access to one-to-one consultations with a HCPC registered dietitian, you can get advice and support to help you improve your health and wellbeing
  • Lifestyle and nutrition consultations (up to six per year): through the app you can access lifestyle and nutrition coaching across a range of areas such as stress management and sleep improvement

We have also put together a handy guide to purchasing private health insurance that may save you some money on your premiums, so be sure to check this out here.

FAQ's

The Exeter 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.

Yes! Comparing providers online is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting the right level of cover for a price that suits you. We found The Exeter to be on many comparison sites such as ActiveQuote and Assured Futures to start with, which are recognized to be some of the best on the market.

Much like many other private health insurance providers, The Exeter gives you a choice of three hospital lists to choose from — Essential, Standard and Extended. You can only access treatment at hospitals within the list you chose when taking out your policy. You can see which hospitals are in each list here.

Yes, they do! The Exeter uses a fifteen level no claims discount system, and the maximum discount available to you is 75%. You can move up and down levels depending on the total amount The Exeter paid towards claims per year:

  • £0 — move up the scale by one level
  • £0.01 to £300 — remain at your current level
  • £300.01 to £1,000 — move down the scale by one level
  • £1,000.01 to £2,000 — move down the scale by two levels
  • 2,000.01 and above — move down the scale by three levels


You can choose to protect your no-claims discount for an additional premium, meaning should you claim your discount level will stay the same.

There is no right or wrong answer to this.

If you're living in the UK you are fortunate to have access to the National Health Service (NHS), which is completely free. There are pros and cons, however, and taking out private health insurance can mean accessing private health services and bypassing long wait times. If you're unsure if private health insurance is the right option for you, you can read 'The NimbleFins Guide to Purchasing Private Health Insurance' here.

Yes, and that is one of the many wonderful things about the NHS. You can still access treatment regardless of whether you have private health insurance, in fact, the NHS will even cover some conditions and treatments that private insurers will not, such as chronic and pre-existing conditions.

The good thing about having the choice is if you choose to have inpatient treatment on the NHS that you would be eligible to claim on your health insurance for, The Exeter will pay you an NHS cash benefit of up to £4,500 per year.

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, they don't, however you should take a note of the below:

The Exeter states you can cancel your policy at any time. If you cancel within 30 days of your policy start date any premiums you have paid will be refunded as long as you have not made any claims. However, if you cancel your policy after this 30-day period any refund will depend on how you pay for your premiums:

  • If you pay monthly: any premiums you have paid will not be refunded
  • If you pay annually: The Exeter will refund any overpaid premiums on a pro rata basis, calculated by the number of complete months remaining in the policy year


Note: The Exeter will not pay for any treatment once your cover has ended. If you are receiving treatment at the time your cover ends, you will need to make arrangements with your specialist to transfer to NHS care or continue funding private treatment yourself.

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

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