WPA, the not for profit private medical insurance provider, set an example for the rest of the sector today with a pledge to rebate around 40% of monthly premiums to SMEs during the current pandemic.
The provider was first out of the traps weeks ago to tell members that it would work hard to find ways to compensating them during the lockdown.
Now, it has confirmed that it will offer two-fifths of premiums back to SMEs whose employees are unable to access private treatment.
There will be no commission clawback for intermediaries.
At present, private and independent sector hospitals are not treating or diagnosing patients, meaning that individuals or companies who are paying PMI premiums are unable to use them.
Providers – and some intermediaries – have been quick to stress that the typical PMI policy provides cover for remote GP access or even remote specialist consultations.
There is also acknowledgment that claims funds need to be protected and ongoing claims need to be funded.
But there remains some frustration that insurers have not done enough to tell customers about where their premiums are going during the ongoing crisis.
A spokesman for WPA said the provider is “committed to not profiting” from the reduction in claims as a result of coronavirus.
He said: “The ultimate financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our health insurance policies is not clear.
“What we do know is that currently our customers are claiming less than usual, and so we want to provide a tangible rebate now based on what we are observing.”
That means that the provide has written to individual and SME customers to let them know they should receive a rebate of approximately 40% of a monthly premium, rounded to the nearest £5.00.
The spokesman said: “Once the coronavirus abates, we expect this will create a large increase in demand for private healthcare and we will need to take into account the cost of these expected claims in determining any further rebates.”
The spokesman said that its actuaries were busy looking at experience-related schemes in order to see how best to compensate them while maintaining scheme integrity.
Other providers have been slower in their communications with customers about the situation, although some have taken some steps to address the concerns of intermediaries and clients.
Some specialist advisers have told Health Insurance & Protection that they are sympathetic to the dilemma facing insurers in terms of rebates and scheme integrity and durability.
But in an exclusive survey carried out this month by HI&P, many said – off the record – that they were frustrated at the lack of communication from insurers and a growing sense of unease among clients.
Health Insurance & Protection is maintaining a page detailing the latest updates to providers’ responses to the pandemic here.