National Friendly

National Friendly is a mutual society with its headquarters in Bristol. Founded in 1868 by Rev. Canon Portal at Albury Rectory it was set up as a deposit system allowing members to co-fund medical assistance.

National Friendly’s popularity was growing by 1900, and in 1918 they established a convalescence home to support injured soldiers returning from World War I.

National Friendly have a strong customer service focus and believe that treating customers fairly is an integral part of who they are.

When you take out a health insurance policy with National Friendly you automatically become a member of the society, giving you access to several member benefits.

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National Friendly health insurance review

The National Friendly Optimum policies offers two medical insurance policies that can work separately or alongside each other, they are the Optimum in-patient/day-patient plan and Optimum out-patient plan. If you take out both plans together there is a £5 per month reduction for each plan, totalling a saving of £10 per month.

National Friendly describes its Optimum out-patient plan as a potential solution to UK GP waiting times, offering unlimited access to private GP appointments where they lead to a referral to a specialist.

The Optimum plans are more limited than other leading insurer policies, the out-patient cover is capped at either £2000 or £5000 per year, and the cancer cover does not include drugs outside of trial or end of life care. However, these restrictions are reflected in competitive pricing.

The policies are based on a five-year term and members must be aged between 18 and 75.

National Friendly - key benefits

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Unlimited GP advice – under the Optimum out-patient policy you will have access to a private GP via telephone or webcam. This will be unlimited when it results in a specialist referral.

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Options to suit your budget – the separate out-patient and in-patient options allow you to choose your cover to suit your budget. There is also a discount for selecting both the in-patient and out-patient plans together.

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Fair and predictable payments – the Optimum policies are based on a five-year term and annual increases are only based on age and medical inflation, not on your claims history.

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National Friendly - Optimum in-patient/day-patient plan

Here is a summary of what is included in the Optimum in-patient/day-patient plan, treatment is limited to £1 million per policy year for:

Benefit Details
In-patient and day-patient treatment Hospital accommodation costs, nursing care and drugs and dressings are covered in full as an in-patient or day-patient.

Investigative procedures such as key-hole surgery and arthroscopy are covered under the plan along with pre-operative tests.

Pre-operative tests and specialist fees for surgery, anaesthesia and physicians’ fees are covered with no limit.
Post-surgery follow-ups Follow up consultations, tests and X-rays are covered until the condition has stabilised.

Treatment essential to recovery from an eligible in-patient treatment such as physiotherapy following joint surgery, and removal of stitches and casts will be covered until the condition has stabilised.

Medical appliances and protheses attached or inserted as part of a medical procedure are covered.
Cancer cover Cover is for treatment intended to affect the growth of the cancer by shrinking the cancer or stabilising it to slow the spread of the disease. It does not provide cover for simply relieving symptoms of cancer and does not cover experimental drugs or treatments, or palliative care.
Heart cover Cover is for the following surgical procedures; cardiac valve surgery, coronary angioplasty, coronary artery bypass, and fitting of devices such as a pacemaker or defibrillator.

Scans and tests requested by your specialist after diagnosis are covered in full. Monitoring of the condition up until it has stabilised is covered but ongoing monitoring is not.
Additional benefits Additional benefits under the core cover include:
  • NHS hospital cash benefit, private ambulance, and parent accommodation, up to specified limits are also covered on the plan.
  • Specific circumstances relating to complications of childbirth are covered for the first 12 months of the policy.
  • Specific dental procedures when performed in a hospital are included.

National Friendly - Optimum out-patient plan

Here is a summary of what is included in the Optimum out-patient plan, treatment is up to either £2000 or £5000 per year depending on your chosen limit, for:

Private GP consultations Private GP consultations which lead to a referral to a specialist are unlimited.

Cover is for one private GP consultation per policy year where it does not lead to a referral to a specialist.
Diagnostics Diagnostic consultations with a specialist are covered up to your chosen out-patient limit.

Diagnostic tests including camera-based investigations such as colonoscopies and endoscopies, angiograms, biopsies, ECGs, pathology tests, scans such as MRI, PET and CT and X-rays are covered up to your chosen out-patient limit.
Cancer cover Cover is for tests to diagnose cancer prior to active treatment. Tests covered are biopsies, blood tests, scans, and x-rays up to your chosen out-patient limit.
Heart cover Cover is for angiograms, biopsies, blood tests, and ECGs.
Minor surgery Minor surgery is covered for the following out-patient treatments where medically necessary: carpal tunnel decompression, excision and cauterisation of cancerous tissue, and joint injections for tendonitis and bursitis.
Mental health cover Cover is for one initial psychiatric assessment as an out-patient per policy year.

Up to ten face-to-face sessions per policy year with a counsellor or psychotherapist.
Therapies The following out-patient therapies prior to in-patient/day-patient treatment of a medical condition are covered: acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, osteopathy, and physiotherapy.

In addition, and where needed to treat medical conditions, chiropody, gait assessment and podiatry are covered.

Excess options

An excess is the amount you will pay towards a claim, the higher the excess you choose the lower the premium will be. National Friendly offer the following excess options:

£0, £250, £500, and £1000 on the Optimum in-patient/day-patient plan

£0, £100, and £250 on the Optimum out-patient plan

The excess is only paid once per year if you claim and not per claim, so multiple claims can be made without paying the excess again. Excesses can only be changed at renewal and subject to ongoing claims status at that time.

Underwriting options

As with most health insurers National Friendly have three options you can choose from for how your policy is underwritten:

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Moratorium underwriting

You do not need to disclose your medical history; a moratorium period of two years is in place for any condition for which you have experienced symptoms or received treatment for in the last five years.

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Continued medical exclusions

You will need to answer a few questions regarding your medical history in the last five years and some questions on specific health conditions. The underwriting will transfer from your previous insurer rather than being re-underwritten. This option is only available to those with an existing health insurance policy with another insurer.

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Full medical underwriting

You will disclose your full medical history which is submitted to National Friendly who will then apply underwriting terms accordingly.

You can read more in our guides section on underwriting. Our expert advisors can use their knowledge to assist you in choosing the right underwriting, considering your medical history and future medical needs.

Underwriting explained

What is not covered

As with most leading health insurers, National Friendly policies are for cover for acute conditions and flare ups of chronic conditions. Chronic conditions, in terms of ongoing monitoring and maintenance are not covered by health insurance policies. Read more on chronic conditions here.

Private medical insurance does not cover accident and emergency situations or rehabilitation and convalescence. Most leading health insurers do not cover treatment overseas. Self-inflicted injury and professional sports related injuries are also not covered on a health insurance policy.

With regards to treatment of medical conditions you have had, or had symptoms of, before you join National Friendly, these will be excluded unless you have switched from another plan and have underwriting for continued medical exclusions.

In many cases pre-existing conditions can be covered, dependent on the status of the condition at the time of joining, and the time that has passed since you last received treatment or experienced symptoms. This is something our expert advisors can assist you with when selecting the best policy and underwriting for you.

National Friendly do apply some general exclusions and limitations as below:

  • Chronic conditions
  • Elective treatment
  • Addiction related medical conditions
  • Fertility treatment
  • Gender re-assignment
  • AIDS and HIV
  • Transplant operations
  • Developmental and behavioural problems
  • Sleep disorders
  • Experimental treatment
  • Routine monitoring, tests, and examinations
  • Screening

We provide ongoing support and renewal savings on your health insurance policy for as long as you are insured.

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Summary of National Friendly Optimum

National Friendly offer a different approach to having private medical insurance with the in-patient and out-patient benefits entirely separate as stand-alone products to purchase. There is a strong emphasis on private GP services rather than specialist consultations. The benefits of the National Friendly policies are more limited when compared to other leading health insurance providers, but this is reflected in their competitive pricing.

There is a limit for joining National Friendly set at 75 which is the lowest in the market and the policy is based on a five-year term. Annual increases are subject to age and insurance premium tax (IPT) increases rather than claims, but after five years they do have the option not to continue the cover.

Whilst it is difficult to compare the National Friendly product with the other leading insurers, it does offer a cheaper alternative to having private health cover in the form of a policy with financial caps on cover and a GP led focus. In addition, for those who prefer to have greater control of annual price increases the five-year term based on age related increases does offer this.

National Friendly - hospital list

National Friendly do not have a published list of hospitals, instead they provide access to all hospitals within the UK with some exceptions as detailed in the link below. The hospitals on the exempt list can be used by members but the premium will be higher for that benefit.

National Friendly exempt hospital list

National Friendly - policy documents

Click on the links below for the full policy terms and conditions and brochure for each of the National Friendly health insurance products.

National Friendly In-Day Patient Brochure National Friendly In-Day Patient Summary National Friendly Out-patient Brochure National Friendly Out-patient Summary

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