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Private medical insurance

Private medical insurance reimburses all or some of the cost of your private medical treatment for curable, short-term illnesses (such as cataract removal) that are diagnosed after you have bought a policy (this means conditions that are diagnosed only after the policy begins rather than ones that have been diagnosed before).

You can buy private medical insurance yourself, or you may be able to join a scheme at work if your employer offers private medical treatment through a workplace health scheme.

Reasons you may want private treatment:

  • to be treated quickly at a time convenient to you
  • to be treated by a consultant
  • to have a choice of advanced treatment options

Things to consider

If you want to buy private medical insurance:

  • how much you want to spend and what do you want covered?
  • do you want to buy insurance for you or your family?
  • does your employer already offer this to their employees?
  • can you afford to pay for private medical treatment, if you do not use the NHS?

What private medical insurance covers

You can choose the type and level of cover that suits you and your budget.

Private medical insurance usually covers:

  • inpatient tests
  • surgery as an inpatient or day patient
  • hospital accommodation and nursing care
  • some outpatient tests, consultations, treatment, and therapy

Private medical insurance does not usually cover:

  • treatment of long-term conditions
  • cosmetic surgery
  • deliberately self-inflicted injuries or drug misuse
  • organ transplant
  • gender reassignment

How it works

When you buy insurance:

  • you will be asked to complete an application, and may be asked for information about your health
  • once your application has been accepted your insurer will tell you when your cover will start

Your application, or any declaration you make to your insurer, is very important. It forms the basis of your contract with your insurer. You must take reasonable care to answer the insurer’s questions fully and accurately as you can. If you are unsure whether something is important, you should disclose it. If you do not, your insurer may refuse to pay your claim or could cancel your policy.

Next steps