Protection  

Govt appoints Zurich's Hamilton as disability ambassador

Govt appoints Zurich's Hamilton as disability ambassador

The UK government has appointed Zurich’s market engagement head, Peter Hamilton, to oversee the insurance sector’s disability and accessibility work.

Hamilton’s voluntary posting is one of 12 new appointments announced by the government’s disability unit today (July 28).

These ambassadors, which also oversee the private housing and banking sectors, hold their role for a maximum of three years.

Hamilton inherits his position from Johnny Timpson, who previously served as the insurance and banking sector’s disability ambassador alongside his role as head of financial resilience and protection at Scottish Widows. 

For the past 15 years, Hamilton has overseen Zurich’s protection division. Zurich claims to be the first UK insurer to publish its disability pay gap data, which it said stood at 17.6 per cent in December 2020.

“As an industry, we have to be ready to listen, to continue to challenge outdated perceptions, acknowledge progress made in some areas but recognise there is still a long way to go,” said Hamilton following his appointment.

“We need to be seen as transparent, fair and trusted, where our focus is on doing everything we can to best support our customers and employees with disabilities.

“We are likely to see a post-pandemic ‘reset’ in so many parts of society and the insurance industry has a big role to play.”

Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson was appointed minister for disabled people, health and work back in 2019. 

The aim of his department’s ambassadors is to improve the experiences had by both disabled consumers and employees.

“The current ambassadors have been helping industry and the government in their response to the Covid-19 crisis, and supporting work to develop the national disability strategy,” said Tomlinson.

The strategy, published today (July 28), includes 100 pledges covering accessible housing, transport, and education, as well as £1.6m of funding. 

But disability rights campaigners have told media outlets that they were not consulted on the strategy’s creation. It is understood three campaigners have been granted the right to perform a judicial review of it.

Some insurers have begun to broaden accessibility on the product side. Back in December, AIG decided to step away from the “conditions race” – a competition over who can cover the most conditions – and instead re-focused its critical illness products on widening definitions.

Earlier this month, it announced the same for its group protection arm. By grouping conditions under more overarching categories, the insurer is able to bring more conditions within its policy scope.

Conditions such as multiple system atrophy - a degenerative condition - affects some 3,300 people in the UK and Ireland, according to MSA Trust.

CI has not traditionally covered this condition. But by including the category ‘degenerative neurological disorder’, AIG’s cover gives sufferers of this condition recognition.

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com