The changing shape of the post-pandemic PMI landscape

  • Identify factors driving PMI growth
  • Understand how Covid impacted the PMI market
  • Explain what high-quality PMI looks like
The changing shape of the post-pandemic PMI landscape
NHS backlogs, particularly delays in treatment and diagnosis, are increasing interest in private medical insurance (Photo: Anyaberkut/iStock)

Despite most people continuing to feel the pinch, private medical insurance – once considered a luxury item – seems to be selling like the proverbial hot cakes.

According to Assured Futures commercial director Ian Sawyer, the company has seen a 200 per cent increase in enquiries year on year, while the number of people purchasing a policy has been even more dramatic.

In this CPD, we ask what is driving this growth – growth that might arguably be considered unprecedented, not least because of the current hard times. We also delve into post Covid-19 diagnostic and treatment backlogs in the NHS, asking whether the private sector is impacted.

We also explore whether premiums have increased, what defines a high-quality PMI offering, whether there have been any standout changes in the past year, and where PMI sits in relation to other health and protection products. Finally, we ask whether PMI helps or hinders the NHS.

What is driving current PMI growth?

Everyone we spoke with suggests that ongoing NHS backlogs, particularly delays in treatment and diagnosis, are increasing interest in PMI. 

“The primary driver in many cases has, unfortunately, been fear,” says Advo head of employee benefits Lucy Irvine.

“The strain, backlog and crisis happening within the NHS have rarely been out of the news since Covid. Individuals and businesses are now much more aware of how the strain on the NHS can impact their lives, as well as their business performance due to absenteeism.”

All of our experts also indicate that virtual GP services and other aspects of primary care such as physiotherapy – which they describe as “previously forgotten about add-ons” – have really come to the fore and had fast become a “must-have” for many people.

“The biggest driver is not only a fear of the dreaded waiting lists, but also the often impossibility of being able to see a GP when needed,” says Sawyer.

Regency Health managing director Brian Walters goes further, saying that the universal rollout of virtual GP services by PMI providers represents a “game-changer”.

“These services, previously underutilised, are now coming into their own. Once a policyholder has used the service once, they become hooked,” he adds.

Irvine concurs, also highlighting the advantage of being able to access diagnostics on their PMI via direct referral from the virtual GP service.

And it is not only virtual GP services that are coming into their own, added value services in general are also proving more popular.

Irvine adds: “Clients are now expecting insurers to provide added value benefits such as wellness support, retail and gym discounts.”

Many individuals are also considering PMI for the first time. This includes significant interest from younger age groups who traditionally would not have viewed PMI as a priority, explains Aviva UK Health medical director Dr Doug Wright.