For those seeking a break from the norm, Owain Thomas discovers the IPMI market is both growing strongly and increasingly dynamic
“They said they will underwrite properly with loadings for pre-existing conditions and it was a massive success. Now others are following. Every insurer says they do everything better than everybody else. But most are not really doing anything massively different to anybody else,” he added.
DISPELLING CONSOLIDATION FEARS
In the domestic market, mergers and fears of further aggregation have set many brokers on edge. But Nelson has a different take on that possibility in IPMI.
“There are always rumours in the market that someone is going to buy someone else and, apart from Cigna buying Vanbreda, I can’t think of anything major.
“If you’ve got a company that is willing to be sold and managers saying they have taken it as far as they can, is it better to be covered by somebody who is actively a willing participant in the market and looking to grow their business, but perhaps has slightly less good customer service?
“Or would you rather be covered by a firm that does everything brilliantly but is not committed to being in the marketplace? How long is that going to last?
“If you want to be sold, then the sooner the better,” he added.
A valid point for many in the industry to consider, no doubt. But as mentioned previously, Nelson’s chief worry is steep premium hikes and a major part of that is fraud.
While appreciating the efforts made – particularly the latest AIMIP initiative, as well as a separate one by Interglobal to educate customers both about the knock-on effects of fraud on prices and the need to be vigilant when receiving bills following treatment – he noted that an industry wide approach is the most viable way.
“Getting together and chatting about it can only be a good thing, but it needs the buy in of the entire industry, all the plan providers,” he said.
“It is no good if half or three-quarters say they are going to blacklist that hospital when others will still cover people for treatment in those places.
“It can certainly be effective and I applaud any efforts to do this. But I think it needs everyone buying in,” he concluded.
So, we find a growing industry currently underserved by advisers with a provider force slowly but surely coming together to cut fraud and actively looking for more distributors.
There are some downsides to this sector, but not many.