Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Future of individual Private Medical Insurance

Was contacted by a reporter today writing an article on the above issue which got me thinking in broad terms about where the market for individual medical insurance is going.

A year or two ago I would have have been more concerned. There had been some consolidation in the market - Standard Life merging into PruHealth, BUPA pulling out of first the switch, then the entire intermediated personal market.

In 2014 I've never had more insurers to choose from for my personal clients though - with the recent re-entry of BUPA onto the personal side of things, April UK and Passport2Health there are lots of options to think about in addition to the old faithfuls of Aviva, Pru, AXA PPP etc.

So there's lots of choice but what about pricing and product ? Well, at the moment there is no clear price leader. Most insurers offer complex modular products than enable us to create bespoke benefit options for clients to the point where I put together a report for a client this morning (currently uninsured) and all eight insurers were within £20 or £30 of each other on a range of benefits. In a way having no insurer way ahead on price is a good thing - it enables me to focus on important areas around what the client actually needs and wants rather than being driven towards always recommending the lowest cost option.

As insurers make their plans more malleable and therefore more complicated it does tend to mitigate away from clients, even quite financially sophisticated ones, buying their PMI cover direct from insurers or comparison sites. This is good news for me personally in two ways. First of all, I get more clients and secondly as I am very active in working with professional introducers they are also more likely to refer their clients to me as they can no longer cope with an increasingly technical market.

So although I won't necessarily say that people are buying their personal PMI cover in droves (in fact I think we still have some of the same issues around a slow growing market now as we had in the mid 1990's) there are a number of reasons to think that personal PMI cover, as I deal with it is in a pretty good state.

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