Friday, 26 September 2014

General catch up for Friday

Just a general catch up for this week.

There are two new podcasts to listen to this week.

There the new PMICast - the only UK medical insurance podcast and also my 'rant' podcast 'Afternoon Train' where I talk about anything that tickles my fancy.

Make sure that you try them out - you can find both in the PMICast stream on iTunes and at


If you're interested in karate in Leeds there are two 'Premier' clubs to try - there's our Yeadon club in LS19 - we train twice weekly at 6.00pm for 90 minutes on Mondays and Wednesday. I am the Assistant Club Instructor working with Sensei Michael Tattersalls (6th Dan) and would be happy to answer any initial questions you might have.

If you're over the other side of Leeds, Sensei Tattersall also runs the 'Halton' side of the club (in LS15) on Tuesday and Thursdays at a variety of times depending on grade. He has also recently re-located the Halton Dojo in his new Leeds Premier Karate and Fitness Club - a custom kitted out facility with new gym due to open soon. Check out for more details.

Karate-wise we are a shukokai style with the emphasis on powerful, effective techniques with lots of fitness, kata and sport fighting - really something to suit everyone from 6 to 90 (?)

Contact me or Sensei Tattersall for more info.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy blog post .... (actually a post about business conduct and my latest podcast)

Apparently to get hits on your blog you need to cynically link in to some hit movie or Apple device so the title to this blog post is my attempt to do this.

Two things I wanted to discuss, although in my opinion GotG is the best Marvel movie so far and enormous fun - highly recommend both the movie and the 'Awesome' mix tape soundtrack. Back to business....

As I'm typing this blog post I am also uploading the new episode of PMICast - number 56. Back to the weekly schedule although I really must apologise for my nasal and congested voice performance - I'm full of cold this week but did still want to get an episode out so please bear with my nasal ramblings.

This week I cover off a lot of ground for both introducers and more generally on PMI and it it wasn't for the voice it would be a good episode I think.

So please track the new ep down on iTunes - search for PMICast or stream on-line at

I also wanted moan about lack of simplicity in business practice - I grow weary of doing everything twice because people cannot be bothered to tell you they've changed an e-mail address for the submission of new business or even worse, someone doesn't bother to scroll down all the way to the bottom of a document to find the information they need to complete something. Why should I re-send the info, spend 30 minutes trying to track it down and then re-type an e-mail I sent three months ago.

Companies should create simple, robust processes that work for people and then stick to them - doing things twice and constantly having to chase everything that isn't done when people say it is drives me nuts !

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

My personal on-line brand

If you have the time, inclination and opportunity please take a moment to check me out on Google Plus.

You can find me at the following link :

The advantage of this site is that you'll get all of my blog posts from as well as most of my work Twitter stuff (@localventure1 or @philknightpch).

I've had over 40,000 views on G+ since I started using it a year or two ago and it's worth following me there if you would.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Is medical insurance 'morally wrong'

Someone said to me (by e-mail) today that someone buying medical insurance is 'morally wrong'.

Everyone of course is entitled to their opinion and so of course I am about to put mine forward.

I have to take exception to this on a number of different levels. First of all, objecting to an entire multi-billion pound industry that supports thousands of people's livelihood is clearly wrong. Perhaps better to target the tobacco or alcohol industries instead ?

Especially given that private medicine clearly makes a lot of people better when they are ill. You might not like that the care provided is paid for (although of course the NHS care is paid for through direct taxation and most people pay a hell of a lot more tax than they spend on medical insurance premiums). It is true to say that not everyone can afford medical insurance - there is a financial price to be paid. However, the medical insurance industry pays tens of millions of pounds back into the NHS - all PMI insurers regularly send their policy holders to use private facilities within the NHS as part of their treatment and without this infusion of income many NHS Trusts would be further financially embarrassed than they are. Categorically it is not the fault of the private sector that the publicly funded NHS is in a bad state in some areas or treatment specialisms - that is solely the responsibility of the managers within the NHS and the central government bodies that are supposed to run them efficiently.

The NHS regular uses private hospitals to supplement NHS hospitals by using private facilities for tranches of treatment - for example in Leeds the Nuffield Hospital has been regularly used for NHS patients - freeing up time and space in various NHS teams. One assumes that it was more cost effective to provide this treatment this way than in NHS facilities. Even if it was just to reduce waiting list numbers - that isn't the private sectors fault, it is the fault of the government body that made the decision to undertake this course of action and it certainly reflects in no way on the end purchaser of medical insurance !

It is also worth noting that those people with PMI do not form part of NHS waiting lists and so are actually allowing other people to be seen earlier - with the private sector banned (as my correspondent seemed to want) can anyone actually imagine there would be more capacity or money with the NHS ?

I can understand that some people may have a political objection to private insurance on the basis of supporting the NHS - I have encountered this mindset many times in my career and whilst not agreeing with it I am open minded enough to understand their objection.

I would however ask the following questions - are private pensions morally wrong because the government pays a state pension - how dare someone save to get more than the old age pension.

Is sickness cover on your mortgage payment an outrage - the government provides after all social security and unemployment benefit it I am too sick to work.

It is sometimes very easy to knock something that we haven't taken the time to understand and consider fully but I find it morally wrong to condemn private medical insurance without first considering the logical extension of the argument being made.

Friday, 19 September 2014

PMICast and Afternoon Train podcasts this week

I really had the best of intentions to record episodes of my PMICast podcast and probably also a new Afternoon Train.

Unfortunately time has caught me again and as well as being busy I also unfortunately have a family funeral today so I am really going to struggle to even plan the podcasts let alone record and upload.

I will try to get back to it next week (although I have another funeral on Tuesday) and I am also hoping to make Afternoon Train a bit more regular (probably fortnightly at least).

Keep checking back her and on Twitter (@localventure1) for more info.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Focus on your business

As an atheist and skeptic I am generally not greatly moved by old adages and home down wisdom but every now and then life comes along and pulls the rug from under you.

There is a saying about people needing to focus on their work and in times of stress or difficulty you need to do your best work under pressure when you least feel like it and over the last few weeks I have discovered a little of this for myself.

As my business builds I find myself as busy as I ever have with both existing clients, new business and my on-going work with introducers plus the usual marketing and social media work. However we have had two recent deaths in the family and not to be a martyr it is a challenge to carry on 'as usual' when needing to support the family and be available for funerals and other issues as required.

It brings home the need to be focused, organised and of course fit in odd bits of work late in evenings or over weekend to catch up and so on.

Doctor Who Season 8 initial thoughts and a bit of a Gallifrey Gallivant moan

OK I've kept silent on the subject of Peter Capaldi's 13th Doctor for long enough.

Before I start, I am tired of people calling him (Capaldi) the twelfth Doctor - Paul McGann was the Eighth doctor and in the minisode : Night of the Doctor we saw him regenerate into John Hurt (The War Doctor and also now the 9th Doctor) and then into Eccleston (the 10th Doctor) who became Tennant, the 11th - all of the back story around Tranzalore, the Silence and the Fall of the 11th for Matt Smith (the 12th Doctor) was of course based on the fact that the Doctor from Ecclestone onwards kept his 'War Doctor' incarnation secret from everyone, seemingly also to himself on some levels due to his actions during the Time War, which of course we now know was actually his redemption and the necessarily secret removal of the planet Gallifrey from this universe.

However, here goes on the main body of my thoughts on series 8 so far (not season, we're not Americans !).

I think Capaldi is an inspired choice for the Doctor, loved his previous work - Malcolm Tucker is a work of genius character creation and an unbridled if evil, joy to watch.

However up to press, following episode 4 screened on Saturday 13th of September 2014, Capaldi is I think being poorly served by the writers, including Moffat. The season opener : Deep Breath was watchable if eminently forgettable fare : a Russell T Davis lite spectacle but little in the way of subtlety or depth and aside from excellent character turns by Capaldi and Coleman (mainly the restaurant scene) left me with no memories but that hideously poorly rendered, massively out of scale T-Rex. I did loathe the  slapstick Sontaran element but the inter-species lesbian love debate that arose from the story did cause me send positive feedback on Twitter and Facebook at the time.

An adequate if uninspired Dalek episode follows (when oh when will they temporarily retire the daleks to make their re-appearance actually shocking or meaningful?). On balance I thought this was a re-tread of previous Dalek stories including Robert Shearmans excellent 'Dalek' and the less brilliant season opener introducing the 'Clara-Dalek' (Asylum of the Daleks).

Then Robot of Sherwood. What can I say about this one. Each year Mark Gatiss is asked to write an episode. I idly wonder, if Stephen Moffat asks Gatiss to write 'the worst, silliest episode you can manage' because that's what he does, every year. At least he's consistent.

Robots are boring. They have by their very nature, no emotions or character - so why the hell should I care about their Promised Land - the answer is of course I don't. I suspect that the effort of creating and sustaining the crack in the wall, tardis exploding, silence is falling etc series arcs have left Moffat with nothing left to give but a wholly obvious and frankly tiresome arc that given the involvement of robots will also leave the rest of the audience not caring either. Maybe the Baker era Giant Robot will turn up in the Promised Land - Yawn !

So that's two episodes out of four that have a boring and pointless adversary - where are the Weeping Angels or Vashda Nerada when you need them ?

Which takes me to 'Listen' the fourth ep. On the surface a scary, character driven piece that finally delivers something of promise that Capaldi can work with. Enjoyed it immensely as a stand alone episode but the plot holes ..... aaarrrggghhh 111111

Who was on the bed during the scene in the children's home because if Clara was the cause of the whole 'grabbed by the ankle syndrome back on Gallifrey then there actually aren't any perfect hider monsters. Of course that doesn't work because we know there are, otherwise who pencilled 'listen' on the chalk board in the Tardis. Let's put aside how the telepathic Tardis never spotted a malevolent alien hider in the first place. Whilst we're at it we'd also better forget about the new telepathic console as well because that was never there before (we'd definitely have spotted a giant goo computer at some stage).

Of course if there aren't any ankle grabbing aliens then why does every human being in history have the same dream ?

Lastly and most importantly, if the planet Gallifrey is time-locked, a fact established throughout the first seven series of new Who then how on earth did the Tardis just stroll onto Gallifrey to allow Clare to visit a young pre-Academy doctor ?

The following article comes up with some good ideas on how and why so please check it out :

I do slightly disagree, although the Moment and the War Doctor did change our previous understanding of the Time War and it's conclusion my impression was that the Time Lock was still implemented by Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) following the events of the Day of the Doctor - the Gallifreyan council we saw was at an alternative location and I think they even referred obliquely in the episode to Rassilons War Council and the Time Lock plans.

Unless the Time Lock exists, the events in End of Time make little sense as the 'evil time' lords attempted to breach their own Time Lock'.

Whichever way you look at it, to obtain an (admittedly) shocking plot twist Steven Moffatt has put in place a real continuity problem that the destruction of the Time Lords and the Time War were created in 2005 to prevent. Davies admitted when re-booting the series that the Time Lords existence caused too many deus ex machina and continuity issues and effectively wrote them out of the plot for that reason.

At this point in time I am only half heartedly watching Dr Who - hoping for an improvement but not at present really expecting it.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Episode 55 of PMICast is now available

Managed to find the time to record and post this weeks episode of PMICast this morning.

Should appear on iTunes, Stitcher etc later today but you can stream on line now at

This week I have a talk again about renewal pricing on personal plans.

As always please forward comments here or use the podcast e-mail :

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Apples Key Note - 9th of September 2014

As a tech lover and Apple afficanado I absorbed the announcements yesterday with some interest. Having said that I'm a bit underwhelmed.

Iphone 6

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus look great but I'm still not over my iPhone 5 which functions more than adequately and my problem is that in June I ditched the 5 for the larger screen Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (as my daily driver) which has proved a great addition to my tech arsenal and having fully acclimatised to the Android 4.4.2 with the Touch Whizz interface I'm completely happy with the integration into my work flow and even the 5.5 inch 6 Plus isn't going to attract me back to IOS on the phone.

I do look forward to seeing IOS 8 in action on the iPhone 5 and my iPad 4 but don't see it as a major driver to my moving back to IOS on the new phones.

Apple Watch

I am actually in the market for a fitness/notification device and the fact that the Apple Watch doesn't work with my daily driver phone is a problem. I could switch back to the iPhone 5 but the truth is I don't much like the square form factor of the new Apple device. I was also slightly disappointed by the original iPad quick decent into slowness and inadequate sensitivity to touch enough to be wary of buying a first generation apple 'prototype' device at the moment.

I suspect strongly that I will probably end up going for a later version of an Android wear device but time will tell - I like the look of the Moto 360 but am wary about battery life issues. I've also checked out the Samsung Gear Fit but it does have very limited functionality.

Apple Pay 

To me this is the really interesting idea. For years I've been trying to ditch my wallet and replace with just using the phone but in the UK the opportunity to use contactless payment via the phone is very limited. An integrated payment solution that could replace my debit card would be massive for me and in future iterations could tempt me back over to IOS on the phone but it simply doesn't exist in the UK yet but I'm hopeful that as Apple pushes their system other providers in the Android space will also ride on their coat tails to offer other more comprehensive options than we have now. Regardless until the system within retailers stores becomes available proper phone based payment is just a pipe dream.

Medical insurance renewals

I spoke about increasing medical insurance renewals on last weeks PMICast ( and will probably touch on it during the new ep which I'm planning to record tomorrow all being well.

I've spent most of this last week going through my personal client renewals and due to larger than expected increases doing market reviews to make sure my clients aren't overpaying. In the normal course of events I am loath to move individual clients between insurers very often - it isn't fair to the client or indeed the insurer but if in one year an increase on a plan is over £ 50 per month (I've had two cases where a £ 100 premium has gone up to £ 150 per month in one renewal) then I have no choice. Incidentally these cases I'm discussing are not due to claims related increases but just medical inflation, age band movement and fundamental alterations to how products are priced.

Bottom line is, assuming no major claims we can usually find a way to save some money against an expensive renewal so don't panic if there is a large increase. I'd also say that these increases are not market wide many insurers are putting in more standard 3% to 10% increases which is about what I would usually expect.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Summer hiatus for podcast is over ... episode 54 is now available

As regular readers of the blog and listeners to my podcasts will know, my weekly podcast : PMICast which covers all aspects of the medical insurance industry takes a break over the main holidays (Christmas and the Summer in particular) when the pressures of both work, family and recording podcasts inevitably come into conflict.

So rather than soldier on recording in small bursts or late at night I take a break and return when things settle down (i.e. the kids are back at school). With this in mind I m pleased to announce that PMICast is formally back with a long (20+ minutes) episode catching up on some key issues for the end of summer. The last recording was in mid July so I've had a 7 week gap but am now back (hopefully) on the usually weekly schedule.

As always this episode includes news, PMI product tuff and of course some introducer based content. You can listen to it on line here : alternatively it will be available from iTunes later today and all the usual places (Sticher and so on).

Make sure you check it out and if you have any comments please post here or e-mail me at

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Identifying introducers clients for private medical insurance

When people ask me what I do for a living I often remark that rather than 'selling medical insurance' which is, at the most basic level the nuts and bolts of my main role, that I am a marketeer. This is because although I do advise clients on all aspects of medical insurance I see my main task as always being on the look out for ways to acquire new clients whether this be by networking, client referral, social media or more traditional telephone or client mailings. Whatever the method I get more excited in some ways by obtaining I new lead than I do in actually fulfilling the clients need for cover although both are clearly vital parts of the process.

So when I am talking to my introducer clients I always try to bear in mind that although they need to know the nuts and bolts (at a basic level anyway) of how PMI works it is actually far more important to discuss how they can find the client in the first place. Clearly without a client there is no one to advise !

The good news however is that if you are an IFA, Accountant, General broker, solicitor etc and you have more than a handful of clients then almost certainly there is some medical insurance business to be ferreted out of your existing client bank without having to a) locate brand new PMI clients and b) do too much hard work.

My advice is that for both SME and individual clients when you do an annual review meeting or discuss other on-going issues with them it's just a case of asking them if they have medical insurance, if they want it and if they do have it can we review if for you ? This then becomes a warm lead for me and the client gains access to a set of advice on their medical insurance that otherwise they would never have had. We therefore, with very little work on the part of the introducer create a 'virtuous circle' : I get a new client; the introducer derives additional income from the client they would not have ordinarily received and the client receives professional advice on an important insurance protection.

So my role here is to 'sell medical insurance' but moreover it is to advise the introducer as to how, quickly and easily to derive more income from their existing clients.

If you are a professional adviser who would like help with medical insurance for clients please feel free to call on : 07792 075748.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Police Accountability

Following my blog post yesterday I have watched a number of videos where members of the public have confronted and filmed police officers in the course of their duty and it makes for quite scary and depressing viewing.

Most of the filmmakers are polite, intelligent and informed, as one supposes you need to be to have the presence of mind to film an encounter with a police office and ask cogent, intelligent questions. In return almost without exception the officers are confrontational, aggressive and sadly, often ignorant of the law.

I understand that police officers often have to deal with difficult situations and dangerous criminals however, the law is set up to protect everyone not just the police and the rights of criminals. The rest of us, law abiding people who go our of their way not to become involved in criminality have rights too and the police would be well advised to consider this when dealing with people outwith of criminal investigation type situations.

I would suggest this video as a starter : 

It shows a member of the public, who seems to have done nothing more than make a minor traffic error - which incidentally he denies - and is then pursued quite aggressively by a police officer who frankly makes a total idiot of himself based solely on his lack of knowledge of the basics of his job. After all if a police office doesn't know when and in what situation he is able to arrest someone or ask for their personal details following an incident with a push bike then what earthly use is he in the face of a serious crime.

The mind boggles and my advice is to always film any encounter with a police officer, it is totally legal to film the police at work in public under any circumstance except for one exclusion based on Section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000 (see and this only applies if the images taken could be deemed to assist a terrorist, in all other circumstances it is perfectly legal to film the police and given the way officers seem to act when on camera I would be unwilling to be questioned off camera for fear that the officers in question would abuse their authority, whether out of ignorance or malice.

I'd really advise people to do some research around this subject on You Tube - it is totally fascinating.

Monday, 1 September 2014

The limits of law enforcement accountability

I came across this piece of video in my FaceBook feed today and watched it with my mouth agape. Of particular interest is the last four or five minutes as the camera man is effectively intimidated by two uniformed police offices in his own home.

Now, I cannot discuss the rights and wrongs of civilian personnel working in marked police vehicles in this way, although the positioning of the speed van in the narrow road and the fact that the operator seems determined to hide his face seems suspicious but I just don't know whether the police van was being used correctly.

However, it really takes some gall for a police officer to clearly trespass on a private citizens property on camera - despite repeated requests to leave - then to challenge the mental health of an individual who it seems to me was showing some admirable restraint in the face of what seems to be quite provocative behaviour by the police officers. Remember at this stage they have no warrant, no suspicion a crime had occurred or in fact any proof that the camera man was even the person involved - I'm a white male, in my 40's with a beard and own a video camera - it could have been me !

It occurs to me that if anything the gentleman filming said was inaccurate the officers wouldn't have slunk back to their patrol vehicle in the way they did.

I will be keeping an eye on this story for further developments - fascinating stuff about the limits of what the police and public can do and how the police, like any public body need to be accountable for their actions.