REBRAND FOR BUCK HEALTHCARE ARM
Buck Consultants has rebranded its healthcare business as Health & Productivity. The organisation said the rebrand will re-focus the business on promoting wellness and helping clients to improve engagement and productivity. It added that in tough economic times, it is even more important to find creative and cost-effective HR solutions.
NUFFIELD IN MOBILE SELL OFF
Nuffield Health, Britain’s second largest independent sector hospital group, has completed a key stage of its strategy to move further into the wellbeing space, with the sell-off of its national fleet of mobile operating theatres. The fleet of 36 theatres – which provides thousands of procedures on behalf of the NHS – has been acquired by its management from Nuffield, with Vanguard’s original founders rejoining the organisation after it was originally sold off in 2004. Vanguard provides equipped mobile healthcare facilities with staff to healthcare providers throughout the UK and Ireland and its fleet now includes mobile operating theatres, day surgery units, endoscopy suites, recovery wards and clinics.
FORTIS WRITES £2.8M IN SIX MONTHS
Fortis Life achieved new annual premiums worth £2.77m between its launch in July 2008 and the end of the year, collecting 11,609 customers in total. Across Fortis Insurance the percentage of income generated via brokers and intermediaries fell from 74.67% to 53.47% although volumes rose.
NU STREAMLINES CONSUMER IP
Norwich Union Healthcare has introduced electronic application and teleinterviewing to its Income Protection Solutions product. Intermediaries can now use a new short electronic application to capture and submit the financial and occupational details for all new customers. The customer will then receive a follow-up call to help them complete a medical interview capturing medical and lifestyle details. According to Norwich Union Healthcare, this allows intermediaries to focus on their client’s financial needs without needing to interpret and capture medical details at point of sale. It also provides protection to the intermediary as all teleinterviewing calls will be recorded, the provider said.
SKIN CANCER ON THE RISE
The deadliest form of skin cancer has now become the most common kind of cancer for women in their 20s, according to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK. In 2005 around 340 women in their 20s were diagnosed with melanoma, almost twice as many cases as there are of breast cancer in this age group. Overall the disease kills around 1,800 people every year but rates are predicted to rise. By the year 2024 Cancer Research UK statisticians predict that malignant melanoma will be the fourth most common cancer for men and for women – of all ages – rising from around 9,000 cases diagnosed each year now to more than 15,500.
FSA WARNING ON CI SALES PROCESS
The way in which critical illness (CI) cover is explained to consumers at the point of sale must be improved, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has said. A report by the regulator on the oral disclosure rules contained in Insurance Conduct of Business (ICOBs) standards suggests that while some areas of the sales process around CI are sound, there is room for improvement. The FSA said that it believes there is a “significant proportion” of sales where the key disclosures and information are not delivered to consumers in such a way that they are able to form a realistic understanding of the scope and limitations of their cover. The report can be accessed at: http://tinyurl. com/cufzz6
UK SICK DUE TO ‘CULTURE OF FEAR’
An increasingly fearful society is leading to a rise in anxiety disorders that will hinder economic recovery, according to the Mental Health Foundation. More than a third of people (37%) feel more frightened than they used to, according to an online poll of 2,246 people carried out for the charity’s report In the Face of Fear, which warns that high levels of fear and anxiety are linked to serious physical health problems and are contributing to economic problems. Two thirds of those polled (66%) said they are experiencing fear and anxiety as a result of the current financial crisis. The percentage of people suffering from anxiety disorders rose from 13.3% to 15% between 1993 and 2007 according to latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
CHANNEL ISLANDS PMI WARNING
Channel Islanders visiting the UK are being warned that they will not have access to free NHS care. Residents of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm will have to pay for themselves or ensure they have private Health Insurance if they need surgery, hospital treatment, consultations or repatriation from the UK from now on. Likewise, UK citizens will be unable to access most NHS services for free when in the Channel Islands. Karen Teasdale, AXA PPP healthcare international manager, said that people should make sure they have adequate healthcare cover to avoid being personally liable for expensive healthcare costs should they fall ill and need treatment in the UK. Jersey’s minister for health and social services, Senator Jim Perchard said he was “very disappointed” by the Department of Health’s decision to end the Reciprocal Health Agreement that was formerly
AMII SPEAKERS CONFIRMED
The Retail Distribution Review (RDR) lead at the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), Steve Jenkins, will be a keynote speaker at The Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries’ (AMII) annual conference. Business development director of financial services Jenkins will open the conference by discussing the work that AMII has done with the CII on developing a private medical insurance (PMI) specific qualification, in line with the day’s theme “promoting professionalism”. His presentation will followed by a panel debate on what professionalism means for a PMI intermediary, chaired by Health Insurance technical editor Andy Couchman. Jenkins will be joined by motivational speaker Jim Lawless, author of “Taming Tigers”, a self-help guide to overcoming fear and personal obstacles. The AMII conference is at the 4 star Barcelo Hickney Island Hotel just outside Coventry on Wednesday 17 June 2009. Further information is available at www.campaignpartners.co.uk/amii
BMI EXPANDS IN LONDON
General Healthcare Group (GHG), the parent company of Britain’s largest private hospital group, has acquired St Luke’s Hospital in Fitzroy Square, Central London, as part of its BMI Healthcare portfolio. The 16-bed hospital will now be named BMI Fitzroy Square Hospital and will be operated as a satellite of BMI London Independent Hospital in Stepney Green. The introduction of BMI Fitzroy Square follows recent acquisitions by BMI Healthcare in Central London, including City Medical, a facility in near to Liverpool Street station that offers consultant-led outpatient and private GP services.
STRESSED UK ‘GETTING SICKER’
Britain is getting unhealthier, with levels of stress rising and people leading increasingly sedentary lives, research suggests. The Vitality Index – PruHealth’s bi-annual benchmarking tool – has declined by two points since July 2008 to a health of the nation rating of just 59% today. Nearly one in five (18%) Brits now admit they live unhealthy lifestyles, an increase of 4% in just six months. The recession is leaving people “not only overworked, but increasingly overwhelmed” too, the insurer said. In the last six months the percentage of Brits saying they are under a great deal or a significant amount of stress has increased from 38% to 40%. Almost half (44%) of Brits report their stress levels have increased.
SECTOR HIT BY MORE JOB LOSSES
Two of Britain’s largest private medical insurance providers have been the latest health and protection companies to announce job losses in recent months. Norwich Union has confirmed that 35 permanent members of staff are to be made redundant at its Healthcare business in Eastleigh. The redundancies, in addition to 68 contractor positions which are to go at its Hampshire operation, are part of a reduction of 1,100 permanent roles across Norwich Union Life by the end of 2009. Meanwhile, Standard Life Healthcare is to make 48 redundancies as part of a restructuring of its customer service and back office operations. The job losses, which will be split across Standard Life Healthcare’s Bournemouth and Stockport offices, will see 20 customer service positions go, while back office processes are being outsourced to the provider’s existing offshore partner Intelenet. The redundancies in customer services and back office functions are in addition to 17 job losses in marketing previously announced by Standard Life Healthcare, which employs 750 people in total. Unum, Britain’s largest provider of group disability and income protection insurance, has already announced plans for 63 redundancies out of a workforce of around 1,000, while CIGNA HealthCare, the health insurer based in Greenock in Scotland, has said that more than 20 roles – almost 10% of its UK staff – could go as part of a restructuring there (http://tinyurl.com/d5tzb9).
PRUPROTECT LAUNCHES IP PRODUCT
PruProtect, the joint venture between Prudential and South Africa’s Discovery, has launched two new income protection (IP) products for consumers. Launched as Health Insurance went to press, Primary Cover is a “lifestyle protection product” while Comprehensive Cover is enhanced with “stronger benefits and features”, PruProtect said. The products include a financial underwriting guarantee, which means that if the client’s earnings are evidenced at the application stage no further information about the salary prior to claim will be required. Meanwhile, PruProtect has extended its existing life cover product to include people living with HIV. The product provides up to £250,000 life cover over a maximum period of ten years. Initially it will cover a limited range of people living with HIV; however, the qualifying criteria will be broadened in future wherever possible in order to cover a wider demographic. The Vitality programme with Lite Rewards will also be available to all new policyholders. Those who participate in a healthy lifestyle will see their premiums decrease in future years, but not increase. Members will also receive discounts from a range of partners including subsidised gym membership, health screens, Eurostar travel and more. Look out for more details in a future issue.
HALF OF UK ‘HAS NO COVER’
Almost half the population (45%) admits to having purchased no form of protection cover, according to a survey by AXA. Only a third believe they have the financial provisions in place to cover their mortgage, with almost half (49%) having less than £1,000 in current savings and investments.
EMPLOYERS SHOULDER NHS BURDEN
Employers are solving healthcare problems that have “defeated” the Department of Health, and should be rewarded for their efforts, according to a new report from think tank Reform. Fit for Recovery calls on the government to support employers by eliminating the bias in the tax system against workplace health. It must “move from exhortation to motivation”, by replicating the “most forward looking health insurers” and rewarding healthy living. The authors said that government policy places barriers in the way of business’ attempts to improve the health of their workforces. For example, employees who earn over £8,500 must declare any non work-related treatments provided by their employer as benefits in kind.
L&G SPEEDS ONLINE PROTECTION
Legal & General has launched a new £30m online system, in a bid to give advisers control of their cases from start to finish. OLP Connect enables advisers to access and amend all applications at any time, right up until a case is on risk. Advisers can also quote and apply for up to 40 protection products on one application. Alan Ferguson, director of marketing and channel development for protection, said the old OLP system was “nothing more than a quote and apply system” and the new platform would allow IFAs to “quote and complete.” OLP Connect is being rolled out in phases with various partners throughout 2009.
BUPA £4M WELLNESS CENTRE
A new £4m Bupa health and wellness centre is to open in Solihull in the West Midlands. Bupa said it has invested more than £1m in technology in a bid to make it the first of a “new generation” of wellness centres which could be rolled out nationally. The two-story centre has 24 consulting and treatment rooms, its own laboratories and dental and radiology suites. According to Bupa, it has capacity to treat more than 5,000 people a year.
BRIGHT GREY PAYS OUT £20m IN 2008
Bright Grey, the protection specialist division within the Royal London Group, paid out on 83% of critical illness (CI) claims and 91% of life insurance claims in 2008. Bright Grey said it had seen a “dramatic” drop in the number of CI claims it had to decline for non-disclosure in 2008, as the percentage fell to 1.8% from 12% the previous year. The provider paid out a total of £20m in claims in 2008, with the youngest claimant being 21 years old. The average age of CI claimants is 43 for men and 39 for women and 70% of CI claims were for cancer, a figure which is slightly higher than the industry average. In addition to financial payouts, 93% of Bright Grey’s plan owners and their families who were contacted by counselling and support provider RED ARC, used the Helping Hand service which is free for all claimants.
L&G AIDS LONGEVITY RESEARCH
Legal and General is funding a panel dedicated to exploring life expectancy in the UK. The Longevity Science Advisory Panel, headed by Sir Derek Wanless, the architect behind the NHS Plan, will investigate the factors that may influence life expectancy, including medical advances and social change. It will share its findings with the insurance industry as well as government and public offices.
PPI BAN HITS NU PROTECTION SALES
Protection sales at Norwich Union fell by 24% in the first quarter of 2009 as the insurer was hit hard by the Competition Commission’s market-wide decision to restrict the sale of payment protection insurance. In the interim management statement for the three months to 31 March 2009, NU parent company Aviva said that overall protection sales fell to £245m, with the drop off in creditor sales largely to blame. NU said that protection products excluding creditor slipped by just 1% relative to the same period last year. Protection sales excluding creditor insurance was £232m for the first three months of 2009, up 12% on the Q4 of 2008.