The Association of British Insurers’ (ABI) private medical insurance (PMI) panel has a challenging year ahead with issues such as regulation by the Financial Service Authority to contend with.
The panel, which helps define ABI policy on PMI, needs three intermediaries to join its work now that the elected intermediary representatives’ term has come to an end.
The election process is being handled independently of the panel by Health Insurance. Seven candidates have been nominated and the readers of Health Insurance will select three.
We want you to cast your three votes in order of preference by telephone, fax or email to reach us by 14 February. The results will be published in the March issue. The three selected intermediaries will then be able to attend the next ABI PMI panel meeting on 11 April 2002.
The ABI is looking for a mix of small and large intermediary firms that will be able to concentrate on monitoring implementation of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) proposals across the PMI industry and drive the ongoing development of other industry initiatives, with particular emphasis on the consumer.
The nominated candidates are:
Kate Bleuel is head of health and risk consulting at employee benefits consultancy Towers Perrin.
She has worked with various employee benefit consultancies, and in the PMI arena. She has worked on third-party administration services for clients’ bespoke medical insurance arrangements and product design and development for broker product solutions.
She says: “PMI comprises only a proportion of the benefits needed by both individuals and groups, and a co-ordinated approach to best practice in all lines of the health and risk benefits will enhance the healthcare industry as a whole.
“We must think creatively and work with the NHS, our consumer market, the providers of healthcare products and the public to find new solutions for PMI and the public sector to work together.”
Bleuel is a member of industry lobby group Group Risk Development (Grid) and has worked with the GISC on the application of its rules.
George Connelly is principal at Dorset-based Health Care Matters (HCM). He first worked as a self-employed agent for Bupa and then set up HCM in 1993.
He has more than 20 years’ industry experience and is not afraid to question perceived wisdom and realise that change is not a threat.
He says: “We must provide service that adds value and ensure that insurers know we offer the most effective distribution channel for their products.” He says there must be innovation because some policies have changed little over the last 20 years.
Connelly is a founder member of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII) and is also a British Insurance Broker’s Association (BIBA) member.
Irene Gallimore, a former panel member, is the health and group practice business manager at William M Mercer. She previously worked for Medisure during its early development, and subsequently Sedgwick Noble Lowndes.
Gallimore has a wealth of experience working in both the provider and consultancy sectors of the healthcare industry.
Her focus within these organisations has included consulting and business development in the key account market sector through to establishing and developing teams in the community-rated sector.
Liz Hammond is the director of customer services at Private Medicine Intermediaries.
She has won two Health Insurance Awards and has worked in health insurance for 13 years.
She says: “Wider co-operation between private and public sector healthcare, the shrinkage of the individual PMI market, growth of self-pay schemes and growth in the company paid markets, will each bring fresh challenges within the industry over the next 12 months.”
She adds that further changes enforced by EU exerted pressure, culminating in the FSA being empowered to regulate healthcare brokers in 2004, means the industry must start the “painful transition from self-regulation and abandonment of the GISC” .
She has encouraged and coached staff to study for the Chartered Insurance Institute examinations and is awaiting the results of her fifth exam, which will entitle her to become a member of the Society of Technicians in Insurance.
Michael Payne established Health Plan in 1990, at the age of 21. He was one of the first independent PMI intermediaries in the UK to concentrate on the personal PMI market.
By working closely with local private hospitals, he provides added value to his clients, which was recognised with the Health Insurance Award for best individual PMI intermediary in both 1999 and 2001.
He strongly believes there is a market for individual PMI, and that insurers could still do more to provide consumers with transparent product information and good value products.
Payne’s experience of individual PMI gives him an in-depth knowledge of what consumers actually want and why many people who initially show an interest in PMI proceed to buy the product.
He is a member of the AMII and was recently nominated chair of its Compliance Working Party.
Leslie Smith is the chief executive of Medibroker Online. He believes that until a legally binding, level playing field is developed between insurers and intermediaries, the “so-called independent” PMI advisers are “endemically weak”.
He says: “The GISC will remain a toothless tiger until or unless it achieves real enforcement powers.”
Smith wants transparency of the real costs of healthcare because clients want independent qualified professional advice, not tainted advice from tied agents.
He says: “They want to know who they can trust to help them research and buy health insurance and they want apples-to-apples comparisons of both price and benefits. Products have to be seen to perform too, at the right premium.
“The spotlight on healthcare in the UK is getting hotter year on year. PMI and self-pay provisions have a great future.”
Dale Tranter is a senior researcher at Misys IFA Services, where he has been the network’s protection expert for seven years.
Tranter’s concerns include the small print on policies and the financial security of some of the companies in and entering the market. He believes the challenge for PMI advisers is to grow the amount of business, harnessing technology in the process, to offset the reduction in income from other areas, notably pensions.
He says: “I have a perspective on how providers work as well as independent financial advisers (IFAs).
“Misys’s research department provides a service to many thousands of IFAs, so I can be a conduit for any concerns they have.
“Small group PMI will be the growth sector of the market, while individual PMI providers will have to continue to innovate to keep premium increases down.”