A “landmark” agreement to adopt the electronic transfer of underwriting direct between private medical insurance providers has been reached, in a move that could save the industry time and money – and deliver even better value for clients.
An industry-wide consultation led by the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) chairman Stuart Scullion means that from next month, a number of new protocols for intermediaries and insurers, irrespective of whether they are AMII members or not, will come into play.
As a result, the transfer of encrypted data files to nominated email addresses at each insurer will be completed as a “secure data transfer”.
For larger insurers, the process will be automated, with greater manual intervention for smaller firms.
“I want to extend my personal thanks to the representatives of all those insurers who have shown the vision and determination which has enabled this to happen”
Stuart Scullion, Chairman, Association of Medical Insurers & Intermediaries
A five working day industry-wide service level has also been agreed.
Operational and customer-facing staff at a number of major health insurers around the new processes is currently taking place.
Private medical insurance and healthcare provider Vitality was quick to publicly add its support to the move.
A spokesman said that it will now allow the transfer of data in relation to company-paid schemes, should customers be transferring from insurer, and it will send all required underwriting data for its insured membership to any new insurer.
All other insurers participating in the scheme have agreed to do the same, streamlining the underwriting process for advisers and reducing the need for visits to offices to collect physical copies of membership certificates.
Greg Levine, Managing Director of Sales and Distribution at Vitality, said the provider is “proud” to be taking part in this “important initiative” which will support intermediaries and the PMI industry “during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond”.
He said: “Now more than ever, collaboration and open communication is vital for industry to continue to support customers and the UK health service.”
Scullion described the breakthrough as “an immensely proud moment.”
The AMII chairman praised the “vision and determination” of insurers for enabling the change – which had previously been “deemed too difficult to achieve” by others but, “led by AMII”, has taken just 12 weeks to be agreed and implemented.
Scullion said: “COVID-19 has forced all of us to adopt working practices and processes to meet Government social distancing and self-isolating guidelines.
“It makes no sense for intermediaries to visit their offices to collect membership certificates and underwriting to facilitate policy transfers to another provider when there is a readymade solution at our fingertips.
“I am immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve as an industry in adopting a digital process to exchange personal data and underwriting directly between insurers.
Scullion said the process has “no doubt” been accelerated by the “once-in-a-lifetime” circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis and the challenges faced by the PMI industry driven by GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the new Data Protection Act.
Scullion said: “There have been many challenges to overcome as we sought to agree a process and establish a protocol, and I want to extend my personal thanks to the representatives of all those insurers who have shown the vision and determination which has enabled this to happen.”