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How does private health insurance work?

Private health insurance is similar to other types of insurance. You pay a monthly or yearly fee called a premium.


Getting Referred

If you have a health issue, see your GP and let them know about your private cover. They may refer you to a specialist, and you might choose private hospitals or specialists not offered by the NHS.


Informing Your Insurer

Tell your insurer you want to make a claim. They'll check if your policy covers the treatment you need. If it does, your claim gets approved.


Cost Coverage

Your GP will book your appointment, and your insurance covers the cost if your policy is active. You might pay an excess depending on your policy.

What is a physiotherapy insurance cover?

Physiotherapy insurance cover is designed to make physiotherapist treatments more affordable, and it helps break the barrier to accessing care. Physiotherapy helps recover from musculoskeletal issues, like osteoarthritis or post-accident back pain, and improves mobility. It can complement or substitute NHS funding, depending on your situation.

Many employers offer private health insurance covering physiotherapy, or you can opt for your own policy with specialised providers. This is beneficial for ongoing care, self-employed individuals, or for access to a broader range of physiotherapists. Coverage may include outpatient or inpatient treatments.

During peak sports injury seasons or colder weather, physiotherapy expenses tend to increase. Having this type of insurance at these times will stop you from paying too much.

Does health insurance cover physiotherapy?

The NHS provides healthcare services in the UK, but some individuals opt for private physiotherapy. So, yes, health insurance often covers physiotherapy, but it varies.

Bear in mind that coverage for physiotherapy consultations differs among providers and their plans. Basic and medium cover plans may not include this benefit, but comprehensive plans usually do. Also, remember that comprehensive plans are more expensive compared to basic or medium cover plans.

Is physiotherapy covered as standard?

Physiotherapy may be covered as a standard inpatient benefit, typically following an operation, treatment, or procedure.

In some cases, many policies also provide physiotherapy coverage as an outpatient benefit. This means that individuals can access physio services without being admitted to a hospital, such as for rehabilitation after an injury or to manage chronic conditions.

What does physiotherapy insurance cover?

Physiotherapy insurance typically covers a variety of treatments aimed at improving physical health, such as:

  • Mobility exercises — These can help in joint flexibility and recovery, particularly after conditions like stroke or extended bed rest.
  • Massages — Used to relax muscles and tissues; it’s a good way to promote overall well-being while relieving tension.
  • Manipulation — Involves targeted pressure application to alleviate back pain or strains and enhance mobility.
  • Acupuncture — Insertion of needles at specific points on the body to address pain which results in healing.
  • Electrotherapy — Uses electrical energy for pain relief and rehabilitation purposes.

What does physiotherapy insurance does not cover?

Physiotherapy insurance doesn’t cover certain treatments or services, such as:

  • Pre-existing conditions — Coverage is only for conditions arising after purchasing the policy.
  • Experimental or unproven therapies — Procedures lacking scientific evidence or endorsement may not be covered.
  • Cosmetic procedures — Treatments primarily aimed at enhancing appearance rather than addressing medical conditions.
  • Non-physiotherapy services — E.g., medication costs or surgical procedures.
  • Services beyond coverage limits — If you go over the coverage limit, extra sessions or treatments will not be covered.
  • Services rendered by unlicensed providers — Treatment received from providers without proper qualifications or licensing are also not covered.

Just make sure to contact the insurance providers and review the specific terms and conditions of your insurance policy.

Which physiotherapist can you use?

It depends on your insurer. Many providers have a list of approved physiotherapists for you to choose from, and others allow you to choose any physiotherapist you prefer.

Benefits of physiotherapy health insurance cover

Physio insurance ensures coverage for treating various conditions, from sports injuries to chronic pain, so that you can have a safety net against unexpected medical costs.

Coverage for different physiotherapy needsIncludes various sessions, exercises, and advanced techniques, which can be costly, especially over time.
Coverage for different physiotherapy needsIncludes various sessions, exercises, and advanced techniques, which can be costly, especially over time.
Lessening financial pressureAllows individuals to focus on recovery without financial concerns.
Quick access to rehabilitationCrucial for rehabilitation after surgery or injuries.
Preventive focusIf offered, outpatient physiotherapy encourages preventive sessions to address issues early.
Improved wellbeingImproves mobility, reduces pain, and enhances physical function, leading to a better life quality
Assured comfortUltimately, it brings you peace of mind

Insurers with physiotherapy health insurance cover plans

Here are the top providers in the UK offering health insurance plans with physiotherapy cover.


At Aviva, physiotherapy services are included in the enhanced core health insurance cover. To access these services, you need a referral from your GP or Aviva’s digital GP for any musculoskeletal issues. After the referral, a specialist will assess your needs and direct you to a physiotherapist if necessary.

Your physiotherapist will conduct an initial assessment and collaborate with you to create a personalised treatment plan for your recovery goals. Also, coverage extends to treatment with an osteopath or chiropractor if deemed more suitable by the specialist. Altogether, the coverage is for up to 10 sessions for each condition.


Bupa offers two options for physiotherapy coverage : full coverage through their Premier Health Plan or Elite Global Health Plan or pay-as-you-go for specific services. Insurance holders can receive up to 30 visits.

Bupa’s private physiotherapy services include:

  • Osteopathy — Manipulating muscles and tissues to alleviate tension, improve blood flow, and stimulate the body’s healing mechanisms. Osteopaths also offer advice on posture and exercise.
  • Podiatry services — Diagnosing and treating foot, ankle, calf, and shin problems, including heel pain and toe issues. Video Gait Analysis to assess walking and running techniques is available at selected locations.
  • Sports medicine — Treatment for sports injuries provided by a musculoskeletal physician.
  • Shockwave therapy — A specialised treatment to increase blood flow and accelerate the natural healing process.
  • Women’s health — Personalised treatment plans after a thorough assessment, which may involve lifestyle advice, biofeedback, exercise-based rehabilitation, hands-on therapy, taping, and some supportive equipment.
  • Pilates — Led by experts to strengthen muscles and improve posture.

There are also prenatal and postnatal classes for new moms that focus on strengthening core and pelvic floor muscles.


With Exeter’s Health+ core cover, members can receive up to 6 physiotherapy consultations each year. This includes assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

Also, their HealthWise program provides access to a network of physiotherapists who offer help via video consultation. They can diagnose and treat various conditions like knee pain, upper and lower back issues, joint pain, sciatica, trapped nerves, and tennis elbow.


Freedom Essentialshas physio cover as optional outpatient treatment. This covers consultations with specialists, diagnostic tests, and physiotherapy up to chosen levels of cover (£500 or £1,500), with potential additional limits. If you opt for it, Freedom fully cover outpatient physio for acute conditions referred by a GP or specialist, up to 6 sessions per insurance period.

Physiotherapists must be recognised by Freedom, be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, and be members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Under the Elite plan, physiotherapy treatments are also optional. Similarly, physio is covered up to a maximum of 6 sessions with a GP referral.


With AXA, members can receive over-the-phone or online assessment, discussion, and advice from physiotherapists to manage conditions. This is part of the Working Body service, which is included in a private health insurance plan.

The core benefits cover fees for up to 10 sessions when referred by a GP. There is also an option where AXA approves ongoing sessions based on specialist advice and provides up to 10 sessions annually with no doctor’s referral required. This is for members aged 18 and over.


Vitality’s core cover includes up to 6 physiotherapy sessions, and members gain access to over 5,000 physiotherapists across 1,700 UK locations through their Priority Physio Network. Vitality’s team pays for treatments directly, accepts self-referrals, and manages claims without requiring further authorisation.

For additional coverage, members can opt for the outpatient cover option and get extra treatment. This extends full coverage through the Priority Physio network or covers sessions outside the network up to £35 each and up to the chosen cover limit.


What does physiotherapy cover?

Physiotherapy includes rehabilitation after injury or surgery, pain management, strengthening exercises, flexibility training, posture correction, and techniques to improve balance and coordination. Physiotherapists also provide education and guidance on preventing future injuries and maintaining overall physical well-being.

Is physiotherapy covered by health insurance?

Yes, many health insurance plans cover physiotherapy, but the extent of coverage varies. You should compare different plans to find the best rates and benefits for your needs. Pre-existing conditions can affect coverage and rates, so consider this when choosing a plan.

Do I need a GP referral to claim my physiotherapy insurance?

No, you don’t need a referral from a GP. You can self-refer directly to a physiotherapist without needing a doctor’s recommendation.

Will I get to choose my physiotherapy clinic?

Yes, in most cases, you can select your own physiotherapy clinic. Your insurance might recommend one, but you often have the right to pick a provider you trust and feel comfortable with. Just make sure the specialist you choose is recognised by your insurance plan.

How quickly can I access care?

You can typically schedule an appointment within a few days to a week, but this may vary. Some clinics offer same-day or urgent appointments for immediate care needs. The most influential factor is the availability of the physiotherapy clinic.

Are there any limitations or restrictions on physiotherapy coverage in health insurance?

Yes, a physiotherapy cover usually has a limited number of sessions. If you need more, your physiotherapist will have to prove it’s necessary. Once you hit your coverage limit, you’ll have to pay for any extra sessions out of pocket.