The Protection Distribution Group has renewed its calls for all UK insurers to adopt electronic reports, in a bid to ensure insurance policies remain accessible to the masses.
Alan Knowles, chairman of the PDG, told FTAdviser it was “vital” insurers digitise the way they receive medical information from GP surgeries, to curb the risk of consumers being fenced out from the insurance market because their medical information is not taken into account.
“We’ve skirted around this for long enough now,” said Knowles. “The pandemic has made a prolific problem in the protection market even worse - the ability to get medical information from GP surgeries has become much harder.”
He continued: “Some surgeries are now refusing to complete GP reports, leaving some customers unable to access insurance. Some are charging more, and many are taking longer.
The PDG has therefore made electronic report uptake amongst insurers one of its main objectives in 2022.
Electronic reports come back three times quicker, on average, than a traditional GP report, according to Knowles, who is also a managing director of specialist protection advice firm Cura Financial.
“They need little-to-no GP involvement and the surgery still gets paid,” said Knowles. “All this for using an app which is readily available for many surgeries.”
Uptake of electronic GP reports has begun to increase, but the PDG wants to see all insurers offer them. One way it envisions the industry achieving this is insurers working more closely with its intermediaries to understand exactly how important digitisation in this area is.
“There are a whopping three million requests made to GPs each year (not all from the protection market),” said Knowles.
“At over £100 for a report this is big money for medical professionals. But, paper reports are cumbersome, time consuming and simply unsustainable.”
One “very real” risk is that some insurers eventually stop asking for medical evidence to underwrite, according to Knowles.
“This would undoubtedly mean a restriction in access to insurance for people with health conditions, where access to GP reports are vital.”
But with Zurich’s market engagement head, Peter Hamilton, taking up the mantle as disability ambassador, Knowles said there would be a combined industry push for greater access to insurance, especially for people living with disabilities.
And with the Financial Conduct Authority’s new consumer duty tipped for greater clarity in the new year, protecting customers - particularly those who are vulnerable - will likely climb up insurers’ priority lists.