The web is creating a boom in insurance newcomers, according to health insurer Western Provident Association (WPA).

Half of the new policyholders attracted to its high excess health policy XS Health were previously without health insurance. Many of the new customers are relavtively young and have a clean bill of health.

WPA spokesman David Ashdown said XS Health which can slash premiums by up to 80% has boosted sales particularly among the young and healthy.

He said: “More than 50% of people joining WPA are new to the health insurance market. It shows the attraction of low premiums in helping people protect themselves against a rainy day.”

XS Health caps each policyholder's level of health insurance expenses at £1,500 for any one year.

The success of XS Health coincides with the results of an NOP public opinion survey that found that WPA was the overall best health insurer. For the WPA survey, NOP questioned 2,000 health insurance policyholders on a number of issues such as value for money and asked them to award each insurer a score out of ten.

WPA topped all six categories, one more first place than last year's survey, re-taking the top spot for value for money from Norwich Union.

Ashdown said the survey reflected WPA's not-for-profit ethos and attention to providing a quality service.

He added that WPA has invested heavily in internet technology to enhance its service to customers.

WPA policyholders can already use the website to check and amend their policy details.

Ashdown disclosed that the health insurer plans to provide a claims tracking service and allow renewals to be completed by email.

Ashdown added that WPA has not had a single complaint upheld against it by the Insurance Ombudsman in the past three years.

WPA has built up a customer base of more than 500,000 and underwrites its own health insurance policies.