A new private health insurer has entered the Irish market, promising to end what it claims is a cosy duopoly enjoyed by the VHI and BUPA Ireland.

Vivas Health is offering three distinct plans and says there will be average savings of 20% compared with other insurers.

The company is headed by Oliver Tattan, the former chief executive of the VHI and is backed by financier Dermot Desmond.

It also has the backing of Allied Irish Bank, which will be able to use its branch network to sell Vivas products.

In a new development, the insurer is offering cover for three days of post-natal domestic support. The company says it covers more hospitals, convalescent homes and pays more for GP and consultant out-patient costs.