Three strikes and you're out - for insurers

Search supported by
Three strikes and you're out - for insurers
Photo: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Boy, I hope I don't get seriously ill in quarter one 2022.

Not something one usually hears people say, even during a pandemic.

I mean, it's not the best conversation starter, is it - more of a conversation closer?

Yet it is actually what I have said to myself several times in the past few months as several insurance providers have found reasons to refuse me income protection cover.

If my circumstances change, as world events have dictated they well might, I have no financial protection in place for my son, unless I die and my life insurance kicks in. 

But if I get seriously ill, then what happens?

Full disclosure - I have fully disclosed everything. Even things from 2007 and 2008. All of them I would consider minor, save for the IVF, stillbirth and C-section. 

I have never smoked. I do not drink alcohol. I do not do any risky sports or have a risky occupation. I have rarely had a day off sick in my life. 

But what I did have was a damaged rotor cuff muscle in 2017, thanks to some over-enthusiastic swimming, which required some exercises from Nuffield Health to put right.

I had lower back ache in 2020 thanks to having to pick up a baby while attempting to lose the excess weight I'd gained in pregnancy as a result of Mirror Syndrome.

I had minor complaints over RSI due to the same thing, and shingles in 2018 thanks to the steroids I'd been put on as part of my fertility protocol. 

And, as my amazing, patient, persistent insurance adviser has said, for most providers this is a 'three strikes and you're out' when it comes to income protection policies. 

When you ask me what I wish for in 2022, I simply hope that I do not get seriously sick.

When a provider like LV=, with all its technological innovation, cannot implement personalised underwriting processes to assess exactly how risky I am, as a 40-something non-smoker with no family history of anything nasty, then something has to be wrong with the way buying cover works. 

When a provider has to resort to looking at things that happened in 2017 in order to find a reason not to insure you, there has to be something wrong.

And these are minor things which have been resolved or which the GP themselves (bless them) have written to confirm have resolved themselves with no further symptoms.

We always talk about the protection gap and lament the fact more people do not have income protection.

This is why.

It has proved nigh-on impossible for someone like me, with never so much as a broken bone, who has a healthy lifestyle and family members with good health, to get IP.

I understand underwriting. I understand medical risk assessments. But I do not understand why written explanations from my GP carry no weight with insurers' medical teams. 

We have been trying for several months now. Or, rather, my broker has been trying. And they're amazing at their job; it seems, finally, they have been able to find decent cover. 

But it was a big, fat no from LV. It was a 'maybe try again in April' from The Exeter. It was possible from others, but without certain things such as the 12-month deferred period - or without exorbitant premiums. 

Small wonder some consumers feel they have to hide things from the provider in order to get cover in the first place. 

No wonder why they just give up and do not get cover at all. 

If this can happen to someone like me, who actually knows about insurance and stuff, then what hope does the ordinary punter have?

Perhaps providers can just stop sending me surveys about how lamentable it is that there is an income protection gap in the UK. Perhaps they should also stop berating advisers for not promoting protection enough.

Instead, maybe start rethinking about your underwriting processes. As Oliver Werneyer, chief executive of Imburse has said, insurance underwriting needs to be better personalised.

The technology exists. The Big Data exists. It's just the corporate willpower that seems to be lacking to implement these in a way that actually benefits consumers.

He says: "People’s needs are quite diverse and, in most situations, cannot be distilled down into one or two insurance products from a specific line of insurance business.

"It needs to be more than just one product. The average consumer does not think in product lines or cover types; they think about themselves and their needs."

But while these providers, in my case, take their time to assess whether I pose the risk of all my bones and joints suddenly imploding or bulging hernias spontaneously breaking out all over my body, I remain uninsured.

As a result, my infant son remains unprotected should I end up getting paralysed by a bus on my way home from dropping off Christmas gifts.

So yeah, when you ask me what I wish for in 2022, I simply hope that I do not get seriously sick. 

Simoney Kyriakou is senior editor of FTAdviser