Thursday, 4 January 2018

Happy New Year blog readers

Hope everyone had a great Festive period and is now hard at work in 2018.

Just a quick bit of housekeeping on the blog. Came across someone attempting to use the comments section to advertise for free on the blog today and even worse it was a competitor to my business. Worst of all it was a very unprofessional and inept attempt. So I've instigated a new zero tolerance policy, if you try and slip some spammy advert onto my blog I will invoice you for the time it takes to remove it.

Simple.

Have a great year.

Friday, 1 December 2017

My Professional Introducer Christmas message for 2017 and beyond

OK, hands in the air it has been many weeks since I last put 'pen to paper' here at the blog. I can only apologise, managing a growing business is far more important in some requests than writing fun blog posts although I still think that it is important to include my thoughts on current market events and so forth when I have chance.

What I wanted to do today was put up some of my thoughts about my PMI business over the course of 2017 along with some important information on changes to the data protection regime in May 2018 which will, potentially, affect my industry moving forwards.

To all of my professional introducers. 2018 has been a busy year and I've had both fun and challenges working with you and all of your clients. My business now works in such a way that I essentially don't really market direct to either personal or company clients any more. Other than referrals from existing clients virtually all the business I look after comes from my team of professional introducers - IFA's, general broker and accountants plus a smattering of other professions. So thank you to you all and I wish you and yours a fantastic Festive period and of course a succesful 2018 for us all.

As always I've learnt a lot as the year has progressed and been able to put in place some excellent medical insurance solutions for many of your clients. Life is never dull (although of course insurance most definitely can be!) but I am of the opinion that once we stop trying to actively learn from experience both personally and professionally we are always the poorer for it.

One of the biggest themes I have noticed in the medical insurance market over the last year or so has been on-going larger increases in insurers renewal premiums which along with the enforced increase in IPT of 2% which has prompted me to review many more clients this year and in many cases move them to alternative lower cost insurers products.

I would stress that my automated renewal process never begins with the pre-supposition that the client needs to be moved to another insurer but I see time and again the need to intervene, review the market and move clients. This is never ideal as I prefer stability and being loyal to an insurer who carries a vital risk for my clients and I feel that, over the piece, that it is important to allow insurers the chance to make a profit on a case over time - in other words I strongly feel that when things work well the relationship between insurer and client is a mutually beneficial one allowing the insurers business to make a decent profit whilst giving the client the right cover and thus peace of mind without their having to over-pay. In some respects one might characterise this relationship at present as a little bit uneven in the UK medical insurance market.

In 2018 and moving forwards I see no sign of this pressure on costs decreasing especially taking into account the on-going effects of Brexit. Whether one agrees or disagrees with leaving the EU it is true to say that the UK financial services industry is facing a time of great change and potential upheaval. The uncertainty that exists within the markets will drive I suspect more and more medical insurance clients to seek to contact costs on personal insurances and employee benefits and that in turn that enables me to demonstrate the value to you of having a proactive specialist in the medical insurance field working with your practice. In other words, in the same way that I succeeded when I set up my business in 2010 in the thick of the financial recession I also feel that Brexit marks an opportunity for our businesses moving forward. One just has to be canny, professional and transparent with clients.

2018 was also a year of reasonable stability in the medical insurance markets with limited insurer and broker consolidation. However things are on the change and we may well look back on 2017 as a bit of a haven in time or perhaps the eye of the regulatory storm. The advent of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) the new EU data protection management regulations which despite Brexit will still become law in May next year will I suspect have long term impacts on the sector. Given the level of sensitive information handled by both medical insurers and specialist brokers like myself I would make the following predictions. Firstly that some less professional intermediaries will leave the market unable to handle the nuance of the new rules and the associated increased regulatory burden. In turn GDPR will make Private Medical Insurance even less appetising for non-specialist intermediaries and thus I feel that a level headed and professional approach to this new data handling regime can only benefit my practice and the introducers that I work with.

In short those of use who can see the opportunities within a more heavily regulated sector and are poised to take advantage will once again reap the benefits.

If you need assistance with any aspect of medical insurance marketing, sales or administration please feel free to get in touch. Even if we don’t end up working together on cases I am always delighted to help other industry professionals with their PMI queries.
If you would like to discuss any prospective cases with me or need general advice on medical insurance - just call or e-mail me.

Phil Knight
December 2017
07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Sales Update - October 2017

Hi there blog readers. 

It’s been a while (several months I think) since I last put up a post her talking about work with my current and prospective professional introducers. This has been largely down to the success of previous mailings and posts having made me so busy.

But in late 2017 I wanted to drop a note out there to my many introducers and friends (and subscribers to the blog) thanking them for their support and of course asking them to continue - I carry on receiving many excellent leads from my bank of professional introducers and together we are able to drive additional revenue for our mutual businesses but most importantly help their clients set up and maintain the right medical insurance plans for their families and businesses.

As we near the end of 2017 (and cannot believe that I just typed that - where does the time go ?) there are some important issues that I wanted to raise for my introducers which hopefully can help them target PMI business effectively for the rest of 2017 and into ’18

These are several key areas where I find (through working with various introducers and clients) that I can add value, drive more revenue and assist with preventing future problems for them and their clients. In particular some of these various issues have happened recently and whilst they're fresh in the mind I thought it was worth noting them down on the blog as well.

Here's the breakdown :

Dates of PMI renewals - most insurers will send renewals between four and six weeks prior to the renewal date. Don’t rely on insurers to automatically send these out though - always set up your own diary system. My experience is that for every 20 renewals one comes through either wrong or doesn't turn up at all and has to be chased from the insurance company. The one that turns up late or wrong though is always going to be THAT client - the one with the lowest tolerance for admin snafu's or the one that has had claims issues with the insurer that policy year. Incidentally there is often a relationship between lost/delayed/inaccurate renewals and live admin issues during the plan year - often when a plan is dealt with in a non-standard way it can fall away from the automated renewal process and is often late or mis-routed - one massive advantage of working with a specialist broker is that I'm very likely to be aware of and involved in those non-standard issues for the client and I keep a special watch out for their renewals as I'm far more likely to undertake a full review for them as well.

I've had introducers who've lost cases because an insurer mis-routes documents (two for one account in the last six months) - sometimes this is down to the ideosyncracies of the insurers systems, again something I can help with.

Direct sales - a couple of my introducers have recently lost business to clients going direct to the insurer. This is immensely frustrating as we all understand the value of independent advice for customers. In a PMI context I’m always happy to chat with your clients to reinforce the value of working with us both rather than with just one insurer. In the PMI arena independent advice is super important. The various insurers offer so many different variations and over time a clients needs will alter. I recently lost an international case where because the client went direct they ended up paying more than the other options I had put on the table. But they, the client, panicked and took the first offering from one insurer rather than waiting for the results of my report with nine insurers included. I could even have probably reduced the cost on the one they went with by giving them details of the market review but the client didn't come back to me until 11 days post renewal by which time it was too late..

This case also failed because of a late renewal going to the introducer - the case renewed on the 1st of October and I was first involved on the 28th of September. As I say we think the client panicked a little bit not realising we could backdate the switch of insurer even up to am month - hopefully we will pick them back up next year. I do expect though that if there are issues from the insurer for the client we will still get a call asking for help even though the client should just deal with the one insurer now.

Overall it is always better to look for independent advice - even if we recommend the one insurer you might have chosen yourself I am always there to assist with all aspects or admin and claims and of course, at renewal ensure the deal remains the correct one moving forwards.

It's really worth bearing in mind that one year an insurer product suits for the client but the following it may not. This is very prevalent in the small corporate market where insurers change pricing policy on (it sometimes seems) a monthly basis. In the personal arena I find that generally insurers set out their stalls to attract certain demographics of clients usually in terms of age or underwriting status.

For example, Freedom Health are competitive on younger (sub age 35 clients) whilst Aviva compete well for older people - say 50 plus. On the other hand AXA PPP have some blinding rates for switch clients at the moment - cheaper in most cases that their moratorium rates.

The up-shot is that IFA's and clients themselves are often in the dark as to which insurer on the face of it is going to suit and in particular if you obtain quotes now and take up cover direct with the insurer then you own't know in three years if the demographic price model still suits at renewal - guess what ? That's where an independent adviser comes in.

3) Filling in and returning forms - it still staggers me that clients forget to complete forms and then (despite constant chases) ring up to try and make claims - if you can help by putting an additional reminder in front of slow clients it’s always worth another voice telling them to return the application.

Sometimes clients change their minds about cover then change their minds again

The following actually happened last week. A company client asked to add an employee on the 1st of February. Then e-mailed me back on the 8th of the same month to tell me he'd changed his mind and now wanted removing.

Nothing was heard on this until last Friday - the same staff member tried to ring up the insurer and make a claim. He then called them again on Monday to try again - luckily I had the e-mail trail showing the addition and deletion (at his request) form February.

The staff member (genuinely I think) said he had forgotten he'd asked to be removed from cover. Regardless it really is an issue with lost or forgotten forms or something like this - clients can't claim if they've missed the relevant paperwork or indeed not paid their premiums.

Clients who’ve made claims - just because a client has made claims in the past doesn’t mean that (in either a personal cover or company paid context) we can’t potentially review the market for them and consider switching or making changes for them at renewal. Depending on exact circumstances (and I'm happy to spend some time with you or your clients fact-finding on these issues) there are things we can do to ensure clients don’t over-pay with an incumbent insurer - always refer a case to me if you think the client might want a switch especially if the plan hasn’t been reviewed for a year or two.

I have lost track of the number of cases I've written where the client has claimed in the last two or three years and is just renewing at exorbitant premiums with BUPA, AXA, Vitality or Aviva - there is a lot of legacy business out there that by virtue of being direct with insurers or with a non-specialist broker is just not getting properly service and we can make an enormous difference to peoples renewal costs for very little work on behalf of the introducer.

Also worth bearing in mind if the client is paying £ 400 or £ 500 per month on a legacy plan, if we switch them and even make a saving of £ 100 or £ 200 per month - it still is a very nice commission paying plan !

If you need assistance with any aspect of medical insurance marketing, sales or administration please feel free to get in touch. Even if we don’t end up working together on cases I am always delighted to help other industry professionals with their PMI queries.
If you would like to discuss any prospective cases with me or need general advice on medical insurance - just call or e-mail me.

Kind Regards

Phil

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
(Part of Premier Choice Group, FCA No. 312878)
T. 07792 075748
E. philknight@pch.uk.com
W. www.pch.uk.com/consultants/phil-d-knight/

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Note problems with my GP practice

I've been trying for two full days now to get an appointment for my 11 year old at the doctors.

On Monday morning I rang at 9.00am to be told that the earliest available appointment was the following Sunday (6 days hence). But if I called back on Tuesday at 8.00am I would definitely get an appointment for him - strange given that Tuesday is before the Sunday but they tell me they 'release' appointments (a bit like a wild animal captive breeding program I suppose, a mysterious and technical process beyond the ken of us mere non clinicians).

So I planned to ring back the following morning at 8.00 when the surgery opens. Unfortunately though, 8.00am is when the kids leave for school and the wife and I leave for work and at 8.00am the line was engaged for over 10 minutes and I had to leave the house and go to work.

So I rang at 9.00am again when I got back to the office and now apparently there are no appointments for two weeks - options are to go up and wait at the surgery from 10.00am this morning until the end of morning surgery and see if there's a gap - or book the appointment on line.

Awesome I said, I'll do that - however you have to go to the GP in person and register. Undaunted I took time off work, downloaded the form, took (I jest you not) two forms of ID and went in to the surgery to register. The form clearly said that I'd get my user ID and password the same day - here's the relevant section of the word document they use :

"It is EASY     -                 once you have your on-line access set up you will never look back!
It is QUICK -                 prescriptions requested on-line are available within 1 working day!
It is CLEAR                   -                 you can see what you have ordered & when. You can see your test result history.

I would like JUST  LEVEL 1 (to be able to order prescriptions on line.)        Signature:            ………………………………………….

I would like LEVEL 1 & 2 (above AND be able to get test results & view my medical records on line.)       YES  / NO
                                                                                                                                               
Signature:            ……………………………………………………….

Full Name:           ……………………………………………    DOB:                         …………..…………………………………………..

Home Tel no:      ……………………………………………    Mobile Number……………………………………………………….

Email:                      …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
(WRITE VERY CLEARLY!  You will be sent a verification email to confirm.  This means if you forget your password you can request a new one without coming in to Practice with ID!)

By completing this form, you will also be able complete questionnaires on-line. 

Show the receptionist your DRIVING LICENCE or PASSPORT and get your username and log-on today!-"


It even tells me how easy the whole process is (putting aside the time off work, visit to the surgery, locating the ID and arguing the toss with the receptionist). Note the exclamation mark after they tell you it will be today - it's that 100% you even get an exclamation mark for emphasis !

I however made the mistake of pointing out they say I'll get the log on details today - you see the receptionist told me it would be this week, sometime - I said "but the form clearly states etc" - then the lady used that voice, the one police officers use that make the word 'Sir' rhyme with 'Cur'. In the end she conceded that apparently they are going to try and get it done today but no guarantees.

It really feels as if I'm inconveniencing the practice by trying to use them - in the end if I can't book in an appointment on-line in the next day or two I'll have to make a formal complaint via the practice manager. Really frustrating.






Saturday, 23 September 2017

Leed Memory Walk - setting off now !!!

Sorry for the brevity of the post but I'm late leaving :

About to set off for Leeds Memory Walk for Alzheimers Research - there’s still time to sponsor me at : www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mw260933

Please give if you can

Friday, 7 July 2017

When having a healthcare broker counts

Most of my job is advising clients on which plan suits and then organising forms, renewals and so forth - administration and consultation by and large.

I earn my money when I can sort a problem for them though. Bottom line is that sometimes things go wrong. I recently had a case where a member on a company scheme of mine was having issues getting a claim through. It wasn't declined but rather the insurer had lead the member down a bit of an administrative black hole.

She called me on a Friday morning and outlined the issue. To resolve things here's what I did.

1) Re-assure the member - form the sound of it there was no issue about coverage - this was a bureaucratic problem.

2) Established on my system that the member was set up correctly in terms of underwriting and benefits - a one minute job but time saving as it brings all the data in front of me for discussion with insurer.

3) Clearly messaged call to the insurer - why has the admin loop being created and importantly how do we expedite.

The problem was in part due to the nature of the condition and in part how long the insurance had been with that company. Either way one simple call clarified the situation (to message back the member) and sorted a possible solution.

This leads to step four :

4) Re-assure the member again - outline the rationale for the insurer. We actually had a little joke about their convoluted admin and then I took ownership of resolving things - we need a claim form form the GP but I committed to receive it, pass to the insurer, chase until resolved. A little more work to me but this is an important issue - twenty minutes of work will likely guarantee the renewal of the scheme and my retention of them as a client moving forwards.

I'm happy to still have a great client and they're happy a frustrating problem is resolved with little work for them or the member to do.

That's where I really earn my money.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

EDC - Everyday carry, pocket tool update

Around 18 months ago I started carrying a small penknife (Victorinox Spartan) as part of my main Every Day Carry (EDC). I found it initially very useful for those bottle opening and daily cutting tasks. The pen knife has a small utility blade (which I used daily) and a larger main blade. Plus an easily accessible bottle cap opener, again in regular use.

Over the months though I've discovered that for around the house DIY problems the Spartan wasn't really enough to get any significant tasks done. At the same time as I bought the Spartan I also picked up a Leatherman Wave - really great full-size multi-tool and still one of my favourite possessions. It sits on my desk at home and is my 'go to' item for pretty much everything. An issue for UK EDC'ers though are the strict UK knife laws. In essence we cannot carry (without good reason - more on that later) a knife with a blade of longer than 3 inches or that locks in anyway. So unless I have a very good reason for carrying such a blade (and the Wave has three locking blades, count them !) if I get stopped by a police officer out and about carrying the Wave I could very easily end up in prison. The reason for legitimately carrying such a tool would generally be work or pastime related (carpet fitter, electrician, going camping etc) but unfortunately keeping on me for EDC and daily use/repairs and such simply isn't a justification under law.

The other point I would make about the Wave is that whilst it's great for more serious work tasks some of the tools I use regularly on the Spartan (corkscrew, bottle opener, small driver etc) are actually quite hard to get to, only being accessible once the pliers are unfolded and quite stiff on my Wave.

So over the months I've been thinking about what I need for regular on-going EDC carry. Recently I've been sporting the Spartan and also a Leatherman Style PS - this is a really cool key ring sized tool with no blade (hence keeping the Spartan handy) and some scissors plus a carabiner/bottle opener - it's meant carrying two tools in one pocket with some replication of function but both open beer (!) so it doesn't matter which one comes to hand and I've liked having a blade or a pair of (admittedly) small scissors on hand. Plus the real winner with the Style is the fold out pliers - they're not super strong but enough for that immediate/emergency use case. One other advantage of having a non bladed EDC multi tool on-hand is that if I go somewhere where even a legal blade is inappropriate I can leave the Spartan at home or in the car. For example, over the last few weeks I've been visiting university open days with my daughter - some threatened bag or pocket checks on arrival (given the UK terror situation) so I just left the penknife at home and carried the inoffensive Leatherman.

Last great idea from Leatherman is that the Style pairs with another tool they've developed called the Hail this is another really well thought out mini tool that I'm now keeping in the car as an easily on hand scraper, driver and 10mm wrench - plus if you watch the video on that link you'll see how it pairs with my Style if I want additional functionality.

That said, I've now moved on a stage. The two tool approach was just to replicative and messy so I've moved on the Leatherman Juice CS4 now hopefully this device is going to combine the best of both worlds from the Spartan and the Style - decent mid sized pocket blade (non locking), corkscrew plus bottle opener, scissors (larger than the Style) and also pliers plus a saw blade for emergency use (seat belt release and so on if required). The main issue with this new mid size multi-tool though is the mass - it's much heavier than the Style and Spartan combined and as I carry it in a front jeans pocket or suit trouser pocket generally it can get in the way. With that in mind I'm going for the Juice's slightly smaller cousin the C2 (as a birthday present hopefully) as a back up - slightly less utility onboard but a smaller more 'pocket sized' device. I think ultimately I'll probably end up carry them in rotation as tasks and my day demands, or stick on in my bag and keep the other on hand in pocket.

Will let you know when and if that one arrives as to the final pocket multi-tool carry.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Medical Insurance for professional introducers

I've been working with IFA's, Accountants and General Commercial Brokers now for eight years advising their clients on all aspects of medical insurance and related plans generally adding value both for the client and income stream for the introducers.

In recent years I've begun to focus more on small corporate plans (2 to 350 employees) and high net worth individual clients but I still look after a very wide range of types and size of client and would never turn away anyone wanting assistance on Private Medical Insurance (PMI), cash plans, EAP, healths screening and so forth.

I now work almost exclusively with professional introducers (although again I'll never turn away a client who approaches me direct and this does happen quite regularly) and have an extremely strong panel of advisers who work with me and refer their clients to me for on-going assistance and support in this area. It is nice to work with such a good group of people and although I don't push for lots and lots of new introducers, again I do receive regular requests and am always happy to have a discussion.

My work is based on the premise that my healthcare advisory process needs to fit into the work flow of the professional introducer and not the other way around. You don't want me adding in any more work than is necessary - the aim is simply that the referral comes across and I then pick up all the work from the client moving forwards.

Everything I do is predicated on the idea that no one introducer or their client is the same - everyone needs variations on level of support, information and assistance. There cannot be a one size fits all in the real world, especially when dealing with a technical product like PMI and clients differing needs.

Over the years I have invested in technology and a social media presence to drive the support to all of my clients and introducers in a sophisticated and transparent way. I strongly believe that my small, bespoke practice is the market leader the UK, for working with introducers on Private Medical cover. I even have a public Drop Box folder full of sales and marketing support ideas for my partners to use - just e-mail me if you'd like access.

If you are interested in working with me or have a case to discuss please contact me as below. Also though take a moment to check out my blog : www.localventure.blogspot.com and my podcast (the only UK podcast devoted solely to medical insurance : PMICast. The podcast is available on iTunes and all good podcast aggregators or online : www.pmicast.podbean.com

Join me in sourcing the very best in medical insurance for your individual, company and high net worth clients.

If you'd like to discuss any prospective cases with me or need general advice on medical insurance - just call or e-mail me.

Kind Regards

Phil

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
(Part of Premier Choice Group, FCA No. 312878)
T. 07792 075748
E. philknight@pch.uk.com
W. www.pch.uk.com/consultants/phil-d-knight/

Monday, 12 June 2017

Karate Training for 2nd Dan

At the moment I am training for my second dan karate grading. I passed what we call a 'pre-dan' in March - this is actually the same test (at a lower intensity) but designed to offer guidance on areas to practice and focus the mind for the main test in the future. I passed this in March 2017 and have been working towards the main grading since.

For the grading I look at three main areas to work on - firstly technique. As a student of two very different styles of karate I need to really hook physically and mentally into my main style (Shukokai) and think about stance, kicks, technique names, many of which are different between the two styles. I practice my three combinations (groups of techniques combined together each to work a key area e.g. stance, stamina or kicking ability) which are at the start of the grading and designed deliberately to tire, sapping arms and legs right from the off. My aim however is not to use them as a fitness aid but rather to focus on them as techniques to ensure they are there in the 'databank' and my muscle memory.

I also blast through all 13 kata I am required to know for this level each day. In the build up I tend to do six or seven per day but in the fortnight before I cover them all every day. As I'm a 'rusher' (i.e. I go too fast in gradings) I practice at around 50% speed to get the feel for going slower but work at full strength, almost in dynamic tension style. I go through the kata's from first to last but never go on to the next until the previous one is correct. Can sometimes take four or five false starts especially on the later more complex forms.

Fitness - this is a gruelling two hour thirty minute plus muscle blast culminating in (for black belts at least) free form sparring with all other people grading (sometimes eight or ten bouts in total). I therefore focus most on fitness for this kind of grading. I'm currently running most days (which is the most time efficient way I find of really banking some stamina) and of course am pushing up the intensity of dojo sessions for myself as well. I am in the fortunate position of having built up quite effectively for the March pre-dan so since then I've been in maintenance mode rather than killing myself to build overall fitness - eight mile runs are no issue at the moment and hopefully I've done enough.

As I'm now 46 and 26 years into karate training I'm finding that recovery after training and more specifically keeping focus during an intense session can be an issue. Over the years I've tried a number of strategies and for this kind of grading event I go for a carry meal around three hours pre-grading. Lots of hydration (just water) during and possibly a chocolate bar to keep going around 2/3 of the way through.

Obviously whilst this is going on I am also teaching four karate classes a week and holding down a full time job running my own business - next 3rd Dan in 12 months !!!

The Importance of your Medical Insurance renewal documentation

I have just uploaded the latest edition of my 'weekly' (haha) podcast and one of the subjects covered is the importance of medical insurance renewals.

Listen to the podcast (http://pmicast.podbean.com/e/pmicast-20-episode-69/) then return to read on.

I wanted to cover this subject here in a more general and customer focused way because firstly the audio format doesn't suit a longer discussion and secondly the more I thought about this subject the more important I realised the issue was. Hopefully what I am about to cover will apply equally to both company and personal clients and also be of interest to my professional introducers as well (whose issues on this subject are the primary focus of the above podcast).

First, Private Medical Insurance PMI) 101 :

PMI is an annually renewable general insurance product just like (although I use those words advisedly) car insurance or house and contents. In other words the insurer sends out a new (usually higher) price each year taking into account a number of pricing factors including but not limited to age of the customer(s), changes to the product, where you live, how many claims you've made, do you have an excess and so forth.

So to reiterate, every year just before the renewal the insurer sends out the terms they would like you to accept for the following twelve months. Simple right ? Well you'd hope so but not necessarily.

Firstly insurers sometimes make mistakes. I have several clients who, if not for my intervention would never have received new terms. The insurers (and this is a guesstimate based on personal experience over 24 years) in general will miss, that is fail to issue, around one in every sixty or seventy renewals. So with this scenario the price goes up (according to all of those factors above) but no one tells the client, he or she or they usually notices at some point when a new and unexpected direct debit amount appears on their banking app or statement. This is pure mechanical error and easy to rectify with a diary system. Most brokers, certainly specialists in this area of insurance will have one for their clients (I certainly do).

At this stage I would strongly suggest that any client who is direct with an insurer and not currently using an intermediary like me should do so ASAP. There are two reasons for this. Firstly to avoid not getting the renewal as outlined above - I dread to think how many direct renewals go missing en route to direct clients. But importantly if you only work with one insurer you do not know if you have the right plan at the right price - it really is vital to get professional independent advice in one of the most complex insurance product areas.

Another problem is that of intermediary routing. This (in addition to having a solid diary system) is where I can really add value for my introducer partners. There is a vast tranche of PMI business out there much of it with Aviva and Vitality Health (for historical reasons I won't bore you with) but also BUPA and AXA PPP where the original broker has set up a plan but neglected to ask the insurer to route all documents via the broker. This is where I find a load of problems building up over time.

Think of the PMI insurers who have millions of customers. Some are direct, some via IFA's, some via general brokers some via healthcare specialist brokers. In some cases insurers allow different routing of documents for some types (e.g. renewals) but not others (member certificates). Some just deal with brokers, others not at all. Some clients might have one family member on a group plan with one insurer and others on a personal plan with a different insurer. With all of these splintered outputs it is inevitable that even if the insurer is supposed to send documents to the broker not the client they make mistakes - specialist brokers tend to have better relationships and process in place to mitigate against incorrect routing of renewals and it is a massive reason why specialists can pick up business from IFA's and a big selling point for me in working with my IFA's. As an example Vitality Health have tick boxes on their application form covering routing of documentation out-put but if you leave this section blank when you submit a case then it all, automatically, goes direct to the client. I lose count of how many introducers have had issues with renewals going direct and clients cutting them out of the process. It's an issue easily resolved with a knowledge of Vitality's process.

Lastly timing, theoretically most insurers will say that renewals are issued automatically between four and six weeks prior to renewal. This however can vary based usually on how busy insurers are. Even if the process is automated (which it usually is with the bigger insurers) there are always going to be backlogs at busy times and over the Summer due to holidays. My advice to clients is to consider prepping for renewal no later than three weeks before the due date - this gives us bags of time (even on larger complex SME cases) to receive terms, review the market, meet to make decisions and proceed. Also bear in mind that we can, if required, backdate any changes up to 30 days - time is therefore never as pressing as the renewal sales consultant at the insurer might insist, however shrilly.

I would lastly point out that it is amazing how many cases, even those coming from insurers with an automated process, arrive late when there is a bigger than expected increase. There are I suspect two reasons. Firstly if there are a number of claims on a case it is likely that a manual intervention from the risk/underwriters might be required to establish a final price - that seems fair. However I do wonder if sometimes these larger increases are also held back a little longer so the client doesn't have quite so long to look at alternative options - a little less fair but (insurers might argue) it could be reasonable business practice.

Either way - be aware of your renewal date and beware - make sure it arrives either from the insurer or broker around a month before the renewal is usual - so either put a diary note in your phone/computer or contact me and I will sort it all for you !

Phil Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
07792 075748
philknight@pch.uk.com