The old saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’ may be a cliché but like many well-worn phrases, it contains more than a grain of truth. Ask anyone who is living with a health condition that has impaired their quality of life and, given the choice, they would rather not have the condition in the first place than be treated for it after the event.

Similarly, we all know how detecting things like cancer at an early stage and preventing diseases from developing can greatly improve someone’s chances of recovery. This is why some insurers provide health checks as part of their package of value-added benefits’ – if illnesses and diseases can be prevented or caught early, everyone wins.

Value-added benefits are offered at no extra cost and can be used regardless of whether a claim is made, so clients will feel that they are getting value for money from their policy.

As our data shows, health checks are not offered by all insurers but of the five who do offer them – Aegon, AIG, British Friendly, LV=, VitalityLife – these are provided as standard. No company offers health checks as a chargeable extra, as they would not want additional costs to put people off something that could save their life.

As our data shows, health checks are not offered by all insurers but of the five who do offer them – Aegon, AIG, British Friendly, LV=, VitalityLife – these are provided as standard. No company offers health checks as a chargeable extra, as they would not want additional costs to put people off something that could save their life.

As always, there are variations in all aspects of health checks between insurers as they take different approaches to the broad concept of a health check. While Aegon and AIG deliver health checks through self-assessment, medical professionals carry out those provided by LV= and British Friendly. Our table shows that VitalityLife is the only insurer with the flexibility to use both methods for completing health checks.

As with other types of value-added benefit, insurers tend to provide health checks through a partner organisation rather than doing it in-house. Our table shows that Aegon works with health and wellbeing specialist Health Assured, while AIG uses virtual healthcare provider Teladoc Health. It is interesting to note that Square Health, which provides medical, technological and claims-related services to insurers, works with LV= and British Friendly. These are both mutual societies, meaning they have no shareholders.

None of the insurers provide health checks only at the point of claim. However, this makes perfect sense given the preventative nature of this benefit. It would be like ‘closing the door after the horse has bolted’ if checks were performed only after a claim.

While most insurers cover the full cost of the health checks they provide, LV= is the only one that does not. It offers ‘discounted health MOTs’ through Doctor Services provided by Square Health. There are three levels to choose from, which vary in price and what they include, but all levels provide checks on things like blood pressure and cholesterol.

Due to the way the health MOTs work, LV= is the only provider that can compare the results from health checks with those from previous years. This is useful in building up a longer-term view of its members’ health and enabling them to easily track their progress when they are making lifestyle changes to improve their health.

However, one drawback of the LV= service is that it is not available to the partners and children of its members. All the other insurers offering health checks do allow this. Of these, Aegon has the highest maximum age for children to use this service – 24 – but only if they are in full-time education. If they are not, its maximum age is the lowest at age 16.

Sometimes the plan holder is not the life assured, but this does not automatically give the plan holder the right to heath checks provided by the policy. Insurers are evenly split on this issue, with Aegon and AIG both giving the plan holder access to health checks. The mutual societies – LV= and British Friendly – do not. Both companies work with Square Health, so it is not surprising that they share the same stance.

Insurers can deliver their health checks face-to-face and/or remotely. The most popular option is face-to-face, which is understandable given that physical checks or samples may be required. Aegon is the only provider not to offer a health check in person but this is because it runs an online-only service.

Online services are fairly common among insurers, with more of them (Aegon, VitalityLife and AIG) offering them than not. However, video conferencing, the phone and apps are not popular methods for providing health checks – none of the providers currently offers them through these channels.

After the health check is complete, the insurer can send the details to the client’s GP, but only with their consent. This can help the GP gain a deeper understanding of where the client’s health is at and where it needs to be. It can also provide a talking point or basis for a plan of action.

Most insurers are happy to send the results to GPs, but Aegon and VitalityLife do not. In Aegon’s case – and in VitalityLife’s to a degree – this is perhaps a reflection of the online/app-based services offered.

However, both companies do point clients in direction of nutritionists and fitness services if necessary. Signposting – which differs from the more formal process of a referral – can also be provided by insurers in relation to mental health support and second medical opinions.

Our table shows three insurers – AIG, LV= and British Friendly – signpost to professionals in all the areas listed. Signposting to nutritionists and fitness services is popular among insurers offering health checks, perhaps because doing so will have the most impact on changing lifestyles and improving health.

However, two providers – Aegon and VitalityLife – do not signpost to mental health support or to second medical options. As mentioned earlier, these firms have a big online focus – in Aegon’s case it is exclusively online – so signposting to mental health support and second medical opinions is probably more challenging. Signposting to professionals in these areas may need more of a focus on face-to-face assessment to ensure people get the right help.