Changes made by Legal and General to its protection portal have been labelled by one adviser as “a step back” for prospective policyholders.
In June, the insurer removed the body mass index tables in its adviser portal "to avoid confusion" and made its BMI Calculator, which requires an adviser log in to access, "easier to find and use", according to an L&G spokesperson.
Advisers use the portal to provide pre-underwriting data for critical illness and income protection policies on behalf of clients.
Northamptonshire-based protection adviser Robyn Allen said L&G used to be “one of the kindest” to higher BMIs on her firm’s insurer panel.
But since using the insurer’s new calculator, Allen and her administrator have found policies refused on the basis of BMI alone.
Talking about one client case, Allen told FTAdviser: “My administrator sent over the pre-underwriting information and L&G was the only one to decline critical illness and income protection due to BMI.
“I went onto their ‘new tool’ and all they asked for was height and weight and whether they [the client] was over or under 45. No gender like others ask for, or proper age brackets like before.”
Allen said basing underwriting purely on a person’s BMI and asking less questions about age or gender “feels shortsighted and a step backwards”.
The adviser also uploaded a video to LinkedIn to share her experience. She said L&G had “neglected to mention” that it had “moved the goalposts” during its underwriting process, by asking for less information rather than more.
“I don’t like when things aren’t transparent,” Allen said, adding that she was “annoyed” and “frustrated” by the lack of communication.
An L&G spokesperson said the insurer has not made "any recent changes" to its "BMI philosophy".
They said: "When any updates to our underwriting approach are made, we always ensure details are given to advisers ahead of their implementation."
The spokesperson added, however, that it did change the look and feel of its adviser centre in June. "We took the opportunity to make improvements to the navigation, layout and contents of the underwriting pages, much of it in response to adviser feedback," they said.
"With this in-mind we have renamed our previous lifestyle page to BMI Limits & Lifestyle, and made the authenticated BMI Calculator easier to find and use. To avoid confusion, we also removed the old BMI tables and link to an NHS calculator, which occasionally gave slightly different outcomes."
Another protection adviser, CIExpert’s Alan Lakey, said he also was also not notified of the change to L&G's adviser page, stating that he checks BMI tables regularly.
“I keep an eye on BMI tables and whilst the L&G tool is useful it is not so easy to compare them with competitor's as with the old-style BMI tables,” said Lakey.