Bupa and the return of the prodigal son

Andrew Middleton, sales director at national specialist intermediary PHP, described the new Bupa product as “fresh, vibrant and flexible, giving more choice to the customer”. But he has reservations about the fact that, unlike Axa PPP healthcare, Aviva and PruHealth, it does not offer policyholders the chance to protect their NCD.

He also highlights that, unlike most other PMI providers, it does not offer “switch terms” – the ability to honour the underwriting terms of the previous insurer subject to a satisfactory medical declaration.

Bupa reports that it is looking into feedback from intermediaries on both NCD protection and switch terms, although it has not yet actually committed to introducing either. It does not, however, acknowledge that it has changed its stance towards claims during recent years, despite the fact that some intermediaries observe a hardening in its attitude.

Susie Colley, principal of Torquay based specialist intermediary West Country Health Care, said: “Bupa has been getting more aggressive at the claims stage for two or three years. For certain operations, if it feels another consultant can do it cheaper then it tries to persuade the client to switch. Along with PruHealth, it has also been getting more proactive with regard to denying claims for things like monitoring and acute exacerbation of a chronic condition.”

Edmund Tirbutt is a freelance journalist

Key points

Bupa has found its return to the individual intermediary private medical insurance market this February painless

The explanation given for withdrawal by Bupa was that the intermediary channel simply was not proving profitable for individual business

Broadly positive initial feedback from intermediaries on the new Bupa By You product is also fairly encouraging

Main features for the Bupa By You product

*A tailored health insurance that allows people to choose what they are covered for.

*Customers select one of two core options, which they can enhance with a range of optional extras.

*NCD enables customers to save up to 70% of their annual premium.

*Customers can choose to reduce costs by capping outpatient cover for consultations, therapies and tests at £500, £750 or £1,000.

*Customers have the option to choose NHS Cancer Cover Plus instead of full cancer cover to reduce costs. This means that Bupa only steps in when cancer treatment needed by patients isn’t provided by the NHS.

*Intermediaries have access to a new online portal, including online quote tools, product literature, sales tools and advice.