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 : 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 :

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 Knight
Independent Healthcare Consultant
(Part of Premier Choice Group, FCA No. 312878)
T. 07792 075748

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 ( 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

EDC Update for June 2017

Here's a photo taken just now of my current EDC :

So we have the following as of today :
  • Trusty Iphone 7 Plus in a Spigen 'Rugged Armour' case (no matter how rich you are, you still only have an iPhone - must be the best device in the world).
  • Apple Airpods
  • Credit Card sized leather wallet (£ 9.99 from a garden centre !)
  • Paracord bracelet with fishing line and firestarter
  • Victorinox 'Spartan' knife - compact and tidy, really good to have on hand
  • Leatherman Wave - actually illegal for carry/outdoor use in the UK without good reason (i.e. work) as it has a locking blade so when out and about I carry the Spartan.
  • House and Car key on a 'Fossil' leather strap -  belt loop hanging 
  • Apple Watch V1.0 for training, notification and of course - telling the time
  • Casio G-Shock G-SHOCK Men's Watch GW-7900-1ER - recent addition to the team. Wear this in rotation with the Apple Watch - like it on longer runs as the digits are easier to see when in motion. Good stop watch and light plus its solar powered. Suspect it might stop a bullet - it's that chunky !
  • Lastly, Fitbit Charge HR 2 - because I can't decide which fitness track to use I now wear two !
Looking at my last Every Day Carry update I posted here (which predates the Fitbit and the G Shock) I have since purchased the CRKT Journeyer and it is a solid little knife. I keep it in one of the bags I use on a daily basis (canvas messenger - same model as used by Jack Bauer circa early '24') as a back up item and I've moved the larger Victorinox Huntsman knife into a third bag (my cross chest small backpack) - this is a more practical outdoor knife that's useful to have on longer runs in case anything might happen.

Overall in terms of where I am on EDC I'm really enjoying the Spartan. A really useful little knife/tool to have on me at all times (I even transfer it into suit pockets when I go out on business now) which I use every day without fail. My only issue is the differential in utility between this and the Wave - I often have to go to my desk (where the Leatherman lives) and retrieve it to do a more involved job when the Spartan just isn't an option. With this in mind I've just invested in a Leatherman Style PS - one of their small skeleton tools - hopefully this in conjuction with the Spartan will see me for most domestic and out and about jobs. With my EDC I've been careful to comply with UK knife/concealed weapon laws which are strict and the Style PS actually has no blade hence the need to keep up with the Spartan or similar which is a smaller, legal non-locking blade.

I'm also rocking the AirPods - best £ 160 I ever spent - use them constantly now - once you get over the embarrassment of wearing them in public.

My Podcasting exploits

It's been a while (nine months or so to be inprecise) but I've just recorded and uploaded the 69th episode of PMICast covering my work with professional introducers and an issue some have been having with securing medical insurance renewals in good time from insurers.

I often cite work load as the reason for my infrequent recording schedule (the podcast started in March 2013 as a bi-weekly show, then quickly went weekly before settling in at whenever I have chance or something to talk about) but it strikes me, given that I do owe a lot of my marketing success to the podcast that I really should try and record it more often - fingers crossed this time I can work harder to do a few more shows.

You can find my own podcast here.