Advisers, insurers, clients – all of us need to adapt. Like many others, I am now working from home and juggling being a teacher to my three kids as well as running a business.
As a protection adviser, I have noticed a mix of reactions from clients. Some clients are carrying on as a normal.
Others now see the value of protection and are trying to get it as soon as possible, and there are some that have more urgent concerns so insurance is the furthest thing from their minds.
Many of my clients need medical reports to support their applications for protection insurance.
The last thing that we want to do is to put any additional strain on the National Health Service right now by asking GPs to complete these reports, although the interesting dynamic is that some GP surgeries are returning these reports quicker as they are much quieter than usual.
Some insurers have decided to stop accepting any applications from clients that require GP reports; fortunately this is the minority so far.
They are effectively closing their doors to anyone that has had cancer, stroke or heart attack, people with Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder – these are just a handful of examples.
I’m pleased to see that so many insurers are actively taking the stance to come up with alternative solutions.
Most insurers have taken the view that now is not the time to go backwards in improving access to insurance.
We are hearing discussions of insurers trying even more so than usual to accept specialist letters as proof of evidence of a client’s medical history.
Increases to telephone interviews and the introduction of video nurse screenings are all being considered to overcome the current difficulties that we are all facing.
Andrew Wibberley, an insurance consultant, says these are incredibly challenging times for all involved, and there is no one easy solution that stands out.
But he suggests that insurers could be more open to telephone interviews, accept more specialist letters, put policies in place under the proviso that medical evidence is provided within 12 months to continue the cover, and that insurers continue going for medical reports from GP surgeries until we know whether it is or is not causing them any issues.
To put the business case forward for this, Mr Wibberley estimates that 300,000 protection applications require medical evidence each year.
When you go through all the figures, it shows that these cases are the equivalent to £150m in new business annual premiums. That is a lot of money for insurers to miss out on.
The NHS is always strained even at the best of times, so there is the argument that insurers should always avoid going for GP reports.
I hope the coronavirus forces all of us to adapt, to be more efficient, and to remove unnecessary pressure on the NHS, without losing the significant steps that have been made to improve access to insurance.