National Friendly has launched a private medical insurance (PMI) plan aimed at UK residents aged 18-85 inclusive. Cover is available to singles, couples and families. Terms are offered for five years at a time, but with annual premium reviews.
The Extensive plan offers a choice of guided treatment (open referral) or choosing your own provider (with standard or extended treatment options). The main benefits of the plan include cover for:
Private hospital inpatient and daypatient costs.
Medical appliances or prostheses.
Follow-ups and monitoring.
Dental procedures. Specified hospital treatments only.
Optical procedures. Specified hospital treatments only.
Aural procedures. Repair of a perforated eardrum.
Accompanying a child in a private hospital. Up to age 18 where the child is also covered by the policy.
NHS overnight stay benefit. Pays £100 a night, max 20 nights (£2,000).
Use of NHS facilities/fixed cash allowance. For some eligible inpatient/daypatient operations a cash alternative is payable where the customer has elected to have treatment performed on the NHS and if authorised in advance.
Tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy where medically necessary.
Varicose vein treatment if there is a venous ulcer.
Complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Specified heart treatments.
Cosmetic and aesthetic treatment. Reconstructive surgery authorised in advance to restore function or appearance following an accident or covered surgery.
Cancer treatment. The policy specifies what treatments are covered and excluded.
In addition the plan includes a number of other benefits:
Private GP consultations. Called Friendly GP this 24/7 service is provided by HealthHero. It pays for one face to face GP consultation up to £100 per policy year plus unlimited phone/video consultations.
Diagnostic consultations with a specialist.
Diagnostic tests and scans to find or help find the cause of symptoms.
Physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic or acupuncture therapies.
Women’s health benefit. Up to £300 per consultation for menopause consultations. Max three in any five year period.
Men’s health benefit. Up to £300 for consultation in relation to PSA tests. Max three in any five year period.
Concierge service – transport to/from treatment. Only for sedation treatments and max £50 per taxi journey.
Concierge service – second medical opinion.
The policy offers a range of options, excess levels (which can be reviewed annually), and hospitals.
Comment: National Friendly is one of the UK’s more innovative insurers although, in the past, it hasn’t always got things right. But that’s in the past and the mutual can claim it’s been helping people for over 150 years too (it was founded in 1868 so is over twice the age of the NHS).
It is selective in the areas it targets and this new PMI plan looks to be well-timed too, as the NHS continues to struggle, both because of the pandemic and its aftermath, and - it is now increasingly accepted - flaws in its gargantuan structure. One such area is GP practices and this plan offers unlimited virtual GP access. As most people don’t need a physical face to face meeting, that’s becoming increasingly invaluable.
In recent years, we’ve seen a decline in the number of insurers offering PMI, so it’s good to see National Friendly both increasing its presence in the sector and looking to innovate as it does so. Both are welcome developments.
The plan itself offers useful benefits, including women’s and men’s health benefits. The T&Cs run to 24 pages but set out well what the plan does and doesn’t cover.
Plus points: An expansion into PMI from an insurer that’s much older than the NHS itself; Good range of benefits including on cancer care and wellness; Good GP coverage (virtual and real).
Not so plus points: Not a major PMI player; Some past problems may put off some advisers; Some heart, cancer and other restrictions.
Rating (max 10): Overall: 8. Gold
Tags: PMI; National Friendly
I Mark: No