Saga Private Healthcare Insurance Review: Specialist Cover for Over 50's


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Saga is a specialist insurance provider who offer a range of different insurance products catered to those over the age of 50. Travel, landlord, car and home insurance are just a few of the areas that Saga cover in addition to private health insurance.

They've been in business for over 70 years so certainly know a thing or two about the private health insurance market. But just how good is their offer really? And how does it compare to its big name rivals?

In this review we'll provide a detailed breakdown of Saga's private health insurance offer, including what their plans do and don't cover, how much it might cost you and we'll even take a look at what some of their customers have to say.

In This Review

Saga Private Health Insurance: Overall Review

After their conception Saga spent the first 30 years focusing on travel insurance before slowly branching out into home and motor insurance.

In the 1990's Saga expanded their offer to include private health insurance and over the past 70 years have established themselves as the UK's specialist provider of products and services to people aged over 50. In fact, Saga currently provides insurance to over 2.7 million customers, so they are certainly a popular choice.

This can be seen in their excellent customer ratings both as a company and for their private health insurance specifically. On Trustpilot, the company is rated an 'excellent' 4.6 out of 5 across over 30,000 customer reviews, so they appear to be doing something right!

Customers who have purchased Saga's private health insurance have also been left feeling happy, with Saga earning a near-perfect score of 4.9 out of 5 on the customer feedback site Smart Money People. Whilst this rating is based on a smaller sample of 90 reviews and should be taken with a pinch of salt, it's still left us impressed.

So their customers appear to be happy, but what do the experts have to say?

Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Experts at the financial ratings company Defaqto have awarded Saga's most comprehensive level of health insurance a perfect 5 stars, meaning it is seen as one of the best products on the market.

However, their mid-tier cover earns an average rating of 3 out of 5 stars and their most basic level of cover has been awarded a disappointing 2 stars out of 5, indicating this product is below the market average.

So what does this mean? Well, the experts suggest that Saga do comprehensive cover well, but don't really nail the basics. In order to make an informed decision as to whether Saga is right for you we need to consider more than just star ratings. You need to understand what exactly is and isn't covered, whether it is within your budget as well as whether their cover comes with added benefits.

Let's start by taking a look at the benefits of opting for Saga's private health insurance.

Why choose Saga Private Health Insurance?

One of the key benefits of choosing Saga is you are dealing with a provider who isn't put off by older customers. In fact, this is one of the reasons why they are so popular amongst these demographics! But there are many other benefits to choosing Saga, so we've listed the key ones below:

  • Health insurance aimed specifically for those over 50
  • Excellent customer ratings
  • 5 star Defaqto rated ('Super' level cover)
  • 4 different levels of cover, offering flexibility
  • Saga GP Service — speak to a doctor 24/7, 365 days a year

Now we've taken a look at the benefits, let's see what the experts and customers have to say about Saga's private health insurance offer.

Customer Reviews and Ratings

Saga reviews and ratings

Defaqto Rating

5 out of 5 ('Super' level private health insurance )

Smart Money People

4.9 out of 5^ (private health insurance specific)

Trustpilot Rating

4.6 out of 5

Defaqto Rating

3 out of 5 ('Secure' level private health insurance)

Defaqto Rating

3 out of 5 ('Saver Plus' level private health insurance)

Defaqto Rating

2 out of 5 ('Support' level private health insurance)

^note: this rating is based on only 90 reviews. Use as guidance only.

During our research we looked at what the experts and customers had to say about Saga.

Defaqto are industry experts and provide financial information and ratings for various insurance products so they are a great way of assessing the strength of a product. As you can see in the table above, the Defaqto star ratings vary depending on the level of cover — Saga's Super cover (i.e. most comprehensive) earns a perfect 5 star rating. This means the experts at Defaqto have assessed this cover to be one of the best on the market! Saga's mid-tier options don't fare too badly at 3 out of 5 stars, which puts it in line with the market average.

Unfortunately, however, Saga's most basic level of cover ('Support') is rated only 2 stars which from Defaqto means it's considered a below average offer.

So what does this mean? Well, there are likely other more no-frills policies out there that offer you more coverage. Take Vitality, for example. With their most basic policy they offer many benefits that Saga don't, for example private ambulance costs, full advanced cancer cover and full outpatient surgical procedures. What is more, they offer a very attractive range of discounts and savings through their Vitality Rewards programme.

From our research we found Vitality are, on average, cheaper than Saga and their policies are 5 star rated by Defaqto. With this in mind, we'd recommend taking a look at other providers such as Vitality to see if you can get a more comprehensive 'basic' plan elsewhere.

When we take a look at the customer ratings for Saga the picture is more positive. They have earned an 'excellent' Trustpilot rating of 4.6 out of 5 across more than 30,000 reviews which paints Saga in a very good light indeed! Be aware though that this rating reflects Saga as a whole and not their private health insurance specifically. That being said, if the majority of these 30,000 customers are rating Saga highly then that's definitely a good sign.

We did manage to find a rating specifically for Saga's private health insurance, but note this is based on only 90 reviews so do take this with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, Saga score a near perfect 4.9 out 5 on the customer review site Smart Money People, which suggests Saga is providing a fantastic customer experience overall.

Let's take a closer look at what some of their customers have to say...

What does Saga Private Health Insurance do well?

During our research we sifted through hundreds of pieces of feedback left by verified customers. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive but in particular customers highlighted Saga's customer service agents on their friendliness, helpfulness and professionalism.

Another positive we noticed is that many customers have multiple types of insurance through Saga, which suggests to us that customers like to stick around. Above all, customers found it refreshing to deal with an insurer who doesn't shy away from older demographics.

"I'm a senior citizen (81) in good health. Never used Saga before but 'age' tends to frighten insurers and the like so it was refreshing to deal with Saga and be treated like a normal member of the human race"

"My wife and I wanted health insurance for peace of mind and went to Saga because we have car insurance with them. They were extremely helpful and clear, and gave us what we think was a very fair price and conditions"

"Saga is always very easy, straightforward and prices are good for the cover required. I have my private health insurance already with Saga - also very good value and excellent customer service. To be able to speak to advisors efficiently and quickly is brilliant"

"Making a decision on health insurance is very important and I felt reassured that I was dealing with a professional organisation and customer service agent. This is a competitive business and I felt I was given sound advice with value for money"

What could Saga Private Health Insurance improve on?

As with any provider there is always room for improvement. Whilst we stress the majority of reviews we came across were positive, there were a few things that customers highlighted which Saga might benefit from improving.

The two areas we noticed in particular were the high renewal fees and difficulty contacting Saga and accessing treatment promptly. A few customers described ultimately still using the NHS to gain access to treatment which is something they were hoping to avoid by opting for private health insurance in the first place.

"I have saga health insurance. I believe one of the top policies if not the top. However following a sudden heart attack I have been stuck in a NHS hospital assessment ward for the whole weekend because you cant get hold of anyone from saga until monday 9am. Not what I pay my insurance for!"

"On the first renewal our policy cost went up buy 23% even though we had no claim at all, and the company SAGA refuses to explain the reasons behind this increase"

"The Saga /AXA health insurance policy appears at first impressions to offer much, but in fact it is mostly window dressing of benefits of little use whilst the useful benefits are being reduced"

"Maybe I'm expecting too much from health insurance but I was hoping to avoid the NHS and get prompt treatment but can't find any advice from Saga how do do this. No list of consultants, no online experts...I end up using the NHS trying to get a GP appointment and doing what I'm paying to avoid"

How much is Saga Private Health Insurance?

Private health insurance quote comparison for a 50 year old male non smoker (£month)

Freedom

£86

WPA

£83

Saga (Super)

£81

Saga (Secure)

£70

AXA

£65

National Friendly

£61

Bupa

£61

Saga (Saver Plus)

£59

General & Medical

£58

The Exeter

£57

Aviva

£55

Health-on-line

£51

Vitality

£43

Chart comparing Saga private health insurance to other health insurance companies
Saga offers a range of competitively-priced health insurance plans

Saga offer four different levels of cover, details of which we'll get into a little later. These are:

  • Super (highest level of cover)
  • Secure
  • Saver Plus
  • Support (most basic level of cover)

The sample quotes obtained in the above table reflect the profile of a 50 year old male non-smoker from a mid-sized town in the UK with no prior health issues and an excess of £500. We've compared Saga's different levels of cover with mid-tier plans (i.e. treatment and limited diagnosis) offered by other popular providers.

All of the quotes we obtained for Saga fall within the middle of the table. Their most comprehensive level of cover is the third most expensive, coming in at around £81 per month. Their next highest level of cover is slightly cheaper, at £70.

Their Saver Plus policy, which is their second most basic cover, is slightly pricier compared to other providers coming in at £59 per month. Remember, the quotes for Saga's competitors reflect mid-tier cover so you may be able to find better value for money elsewhere. Note that Saga's 'Support' plan is only available over the telephone, so you'll need to contact them directly on 0800 015 0226 for more information.

Let's take a look at the different levels of cover Saga offer in more detail, so you can see exactly what is and isn't included.

What is and isn't included?

As we mentioned previously, Saga offer four different levels of cover which offers great flexibility. These are:

  • Super (highest level of cover)
  • Secure
  • Saver Plus
  • Support (most basic level of cover)

We've broken down each level in more detail for you below, but if you're just interested in a quick comparison table then skip to here to see the key similarities and differences.

Click the below drop down arrows to reveal more about each level of cover Saga offers!

This is Saga's most basic plan which still offers prompt access to eligible in-patient and day-patient treatment, a choice of private UK hospitals and 24 hour access to the Saga GP Service. Note, this plan doesn't offer outpatient cover and only covers the surgical aspects of cancer treatment — you will need to access NHS provided care for your other healthcare needs.

Saga HealthPlan Support

Inpatient and day patient treatment

Hospital charges, specialist fees & diagnostic tests

Yes

Outpatient treatment

Surgical procedures

Yes

Additional benefits

NHS cash benefit

£100 per night (£2,000 per year limit)

Cancer Care Team Support

Yes

Saga GP Service

Yes

Saga Health Information Line

Yes

Fast Track Appointment Service

Yes

Note: For some benefits Saga will pay charges up to the level within the published Schedule of Procedures and Fees. Please refer to your policy documentation for further details

With Saga's Saver Plus you gain prompt access to in-patient and day-patient treatment as well as up to £1,000 towards out-patient treatment. This is a great option for more cost conscious buyers who want slightly more than just the basics.

Saga HealthPlan Saver Plus

Inpatient and day patient treatment

Hospital charges, specialist fees & diagnostic tests

Yes

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to 28 days per year

Outpatient treatment

Consultations with a specialist, diagnostic tests, practitioner, therapist, physiotherapist, acupuncturist and homeopath charges

Up to £1,000 per year

CT, MRI & PET Scans

One scan per year

CT, MRI & PET scans within 8 months following eligible inpatient, day-patient and outpatient treatment or procedures

No annual maximum

Cancer Treatment (incl. radiotherapy, chemotherapy and eligible outpatient treatment)

No annual maximum

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to £1,500 per year

Additional benefits

NHS cash benefit

£100 per night (£2,000 per year limit)

Second opinion service

Yes

Nursing at home

Up to 2 weeks per year

Cancer Care Team Support

Yes

Stronger Minds counselling sessions

Yes

Saga GP Service

Yes

Saga Health Information Line

Yes

Fast Track Appointment Service

Yes

Note: For some benefits Saga will pay charges up to the level within the published Schedule of Procedures and Fees. Please refer to your policy documentation for further details

Saga's Secure level of cover offers prompt access to in-patient and day-patient treatment and a range of benefits including up to £2,000 towards out-patient consultations, diagnostic tests and a range of practitioner and therapist charges including an extra £400 towards post-operative treatment.

Saga HealthPlan Secure

Inpatient and day patient treatment

Hospital charges, specialist fees & diagnostic tests

Yes

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to 28 days per year

Outpatient treatment

Consultations with a specialist, diagnostic tests, practitioner, therapist, physiotherapist, acupuncturist and homeopath charges

Up to £2,000 per year

CT, MRI & PET Scans

No annual maximum

Cancer Treatment (incl. radiotherapy, chemotherapy and eligible outpatient treatment)

No annual maximum

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to £2,000 per year

Additional post-operative outpatient physiotherapist, therapist, acupuncturist and homeopath charges for treatment received after eligible inpatient, day-patient or outpatient procedure

Up to £400 per year

Additional benefits

NHS cash benefit

£100 per night (£2,000 per year limit)

Second opinion service

Yes

Nursing at home

Up to 13 weeks per year

Private ambulance

Yes

Cancer Care Team Support

Yes

Recuperative care

Up to £1,000 per year

Stronger Minds counselling sessions

Yes

Saga GP Service

Yes

Saga Health Information Line

Yes

Fast Track Appointment Service

Yes

Note: For some benefits Saga will pay charges up to the level within the published Schedule of Procedures and Fees. Please refer to your policy documentation for further details

Saga's Super cover gives the highest level of protection for eligible in-patient and day-patient cover, and offers unlimited cover for eligible out-patient treatment including consultations, diagnostic tests, scans and physiotherapy as well as a host of other benefits.

Saga HealthPlan Super

Inpatient and day patient treatment

Hospital charges, specialist fees & diagnostic tests

Yes

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to 28 days per year

Outpatient treatment

Consultations with a specialist, diagnostic tests, practitioner & physiotherapy charges

No annual maximum

CT, MRI & PET Scans

No annual maximum

Cancer Treatment (incl. radiotherapy, chemotherapy and eligible outpatient treatment)

No annual maximum

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to £2,500 per year

Additional benefits

Therapist, homeopath & acupuncturist charges

Up to £2,000 per year

NHS cash benefit

£150 per night (£3,000 per year limit)

Second opinion service

Yes

Nursing at home

Up to 13 weeks per year

Private ambulance

Yes

Cancer Care Team Support

Yes

Major dental cash benefit

Up to £1,500 per year

Recuperative care

£2,000 per year

Stronger Minds counselling sessions

Yes

Saga GP Service

Yes

Saga Health Information Line

Yes

Fast Track Appointment Service

Yes

Note: For some benefits Saga will pay charges up to the level within the published Schedule of Procedures and Fees. Please refer to your policy documentation for further details

Summary: how do the plans compare?

To make things easy for you to compare the different levels of cover we've put together a table highlighting the key similarities and differences. Take a look for yourself to see how the plans compare.

BenefitsSuperSecureSaver PlusSupport

Inpatient treatment and day-patient treatment

Hospital charges for treatment in a hospital listed in the Saga Countrywise Hospital List

YesYesYesYes

Specialist fees and diagnostic tests

YesYesYesYes

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to 28 days per yearUp to 28 days per yearUp to 28 days per yearN/A

Outpatient treatment

Surgical procedures

YesYesYesYes

CT, MRI & PET Scans in a centre listed in the Saga Countrywide Hospital List

No annual maximumNo annual maximumOne scan, plus unlimited follow-up scans within 8 months of eligible inpatient, day-patient and outpatient treatmentN/A

Cancer treatment (incl. radiotherapy, chemotherapy and eligible outpatient treatment)

YesYesYesN/A

Treatment of mental health conditions

Up to £2,500 per yearUp to £2,000 per yearUp to £1,500 per yearN/A

^ Some of these benefits have an upper limit on the amount you can claim. For more details, refer to the policy documentation

Note: we've just highlighted the core policy benefits here. Be aware that the number of add-ons and limits also vary by level so we recommend looking at the policy documentation of the cover(s) you are interested in for a full breakdown.

How to make a claim

Saga's claims process is not too dissimilar to other providers, so if you're family with health insurance you shouldn't be too surprised. To anyone looking to purchase private health insurance for the first time, we've listed the key steps involved in making a claim:

  • Your GP or dentist refers you to a specialist for private treatment
  • Contact Saga's health insurance claims team on 0800 027 1331.
  • They will then check whether your treatment is eligible for cover. To make the process quick and simple, it's helpful to have the necessary information to hand. This includes the name of your specialist, hospital name, procedure code and details of your medical condition
  • Saga will then confirm whether they are able to pay the specialist fees in full, or will find a specialist for you. They will also confirm which hospitals are covered and send you a claims form to complete
  • You will need to complete your section of Saga's health insurance claim form before asking your GP to finish the remaining sections. You can then return this to Saga using the address shown on the form
  • Once Saga has received the completed form they will assess your claim and confirm whether it is covered
  • Any outstanding payments you need to make towards your treatment can be sent to Saga's Claims Personal Advisory Team

Saga Private Health Insurance: discounts and savings

If you're considering choosing Saga for private health insurance you're in luck as you can gain access to a range of exclusive benefits! Here are some of the ones we think you should know about:

  • Saga offer a range of discounts and savings on products, services and experiences. You can enter prize draws, enjoy book clubs and even get a discount on Saga Cruises. Also, Saga have designed a mobile app which is user friendly so you can access these benefits on the go

Remember, there are plenty of easy tips and tricks you can use to save money on your private health insurance. We've put together a handy guide on the types of things that can affect the cost of private health insurance and what steps you can take to lower your premiums here.

FAQs

We couldn't see them list of providers used by Assured Futures or Active Quote, though they may appear on other sites. However, you can easily obtain a quote directly through Saga's website

Like most other companies, generally Saga automatically exclude treatment for any conditions you have experienced during the three years prior to joining. Private health insurance is intended to cover the costs of medical conditions that arise after you join.

Yes, you can choose to include this in your policy for an additional premium.

Saga doesn't appear to charge an administration fee for canceling your policy. In line with many insurers, you have 14 days from the date you receive your policy documents to cancel your policy, and you'll get a full refund as long as no claims have been made.


If you cancel your policy after this period Saga may refund any premium that has been paid for the rest of that period of insurance if no claim has been made. However, if you have made a claim Saga won't refund any premium and you may still be required to pay the rest of the full annual premium.

As standard, Saga's Countrywide Hospitals list includes all leading hospital groups such as Spire, Nuffield and BMI as well as all NHS hospitals with Private Patient Units. You are entitled to use any of the private hospitals listed here.

You can also choose to upgrade this at an additional premium by choosing Saga's 'Countrywide London Upgrade'. This will allow you additional access to any of the 12 additional London hospitals in this list.

You can access the full list of Saga's hospitals here.

Whilst you have to be aged 50 or over to apply for a policy, you can add your spouse and children (aged up to 21, or 25 if in full education) onto the policy if you wish.

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.

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.


  • Inpatient: you are an inpatient if you need to attend hospital for treatment, and need to stay in overnight (or longer)
  • Outpatient: you are an outpatient 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 outpatient you will also require medical observation for a short while after.

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

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