No apologies for the fact that this review will focus more on the problem than the solution, so here goes. There are almost a quarter of a million doctors on the General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) register and, over 40% are female (the group that has traditionally had to pay much more for income protection cover). Most (over 155,000 as at September 2012) were aged under 46, so therefore ideal candidates to have income protection (IP) cover.
However, writing IP has always been a bit of a nightmare. One reason is that how much sick pay the NHS pays a doctor depends on how long they have been employed by the NHS. Over their first five years, a doctor will get full pay for one month followed by half pay for two months in their first year, rising to five months for both after four years and six months for both after five years. That has often meant having to choose the ‘wrong’ deferred period at outset or else changing the deferred period over time. Neither is a satisfactory solution.
PruProtect has introduced a deferred period for doctors that now automatically changes over time, in line with the NHS sick pay structure. It has also produced a useful sales aid to explain it all, which includes a frequently asked questions section.
The option only applies to NHS employed doctors (so care needs to be taken when using portals or even PruProtect’s own quotes system). Self-employed doctors and the private income of other doctors is therefore outside the arrangement.
Otherwise, PruProtect’s normal Income Protection Cover rules and benefits apply. That includes up to £2,000 of specialist care and support, a two-month back to work benefit, extra income for a permanent disability and guaranteed income if verified at outset.
What They Say
Actuarial and product director Deepak Jobanputra said: “We are pleased to continue our trend of tailoring our products to customer needs. The normal structure of IP deferred periods does not dovetail with the NHS pay structure. This makes it very difficult for advisers to match an appropriate solution for NHS doctors.”
What We Say
Doctors and IP are natural bedfellows but in practice, setting up the cover correctly was often a nightmare – due both to the nature of doctors’ earnings and the inflexibility of the traditional IP structure.
PruProtect’s solution is simple from the customer’s (and adviser’s) viewpoint and meets doctors’ actual needs. Care still needs to be taken when giving advice, but this is an important development. The timing is good too – doctors remain very well paid and the move to non-gender specific rates from 21 December should make IP much more attractive to many of the 100,000+ female doctors currently registered with the GMC.