Life insurers have resumed face-to-face medical screenings with a number of measures
A number of insurers have announced the reintroduction of in-person medical screenings, after initially suspending them as a result of COVID-19 social distancing.
Some providers will continue offering virtual medical screenings where face-to-face appointments are not possible. Details of those who have confirmed physical screenings and how they are doing so can be found below.
As part of its return to medical screenings, Aegon is reinstalling its original routine medical underwriting limits and its immediate cover facility (ICF) for business protection and relevant life policies. Aegon said it is able to offer higher levels of cover and consider more income protection applications as a result.
Where it's not possible to arrange nurse screenings or medical examinations, or where clients are uncomfortable attending face-to-face appointments, Aegon will look at alternative medical evidence such as a GPR.
AIG Life said: "From 1 June, government guidelines mean that some face-to-face screenings can take place. We understand that not everyone will be able to, or be comfortable with, having a nurse attend their house so we'll continue to consider alternative options, such as virtual medical screening."
The insurer said that customer and nurse safety is its number one priority. It has therefore added a number "special measures" including:
- Additional questions on symptoms and contact before an appointment is booked
- Minimising face to face time during an appointment
- Nurses wearing PPE equipment throughout appointments
- Single use equipment being used wherever possible
- Disinfecting any non-single use equipment between appointments
Aviva and its partners have implemented new protocols and procedures to meet the health and safety challenges of COVID-19 to make physical health screenings appointments possible again.
The measures include training for staff on the latest guidelines, pre-screening customers before booking appointments, personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning and disinfecting of equipment.
Using technology developed by its partner Square Health, British Friendly has been carrying virtual medical screenings, which will continue unless a virtual screening is not possible.
Following the recent relaunch of in-person Square Health medical screenings with COVID secure measures in place, British Friendly will now be able to offer a physical screening if the applicant is happy for a nurse to visit them.
British Friendly said nurses will adhere to strict procedures and will be wearing full PPE.
Guardian is now accepting business above non-medical limits, after temporarily restricting applications due to COVID-19
The insurer has also restarted face-to-face medicals, which, it said, have been booked in from next week via its partner Medical Screenings Solutons (MSS), which has a number of Covid-secure health and safety measures in place.
Guardian said: "One of the impacts of COVID-19 was being unable to get the medical evidence we needed to underwrite some applications, which meant we had to restrict applications temporarily to below our non-medical limits.
"From today we have lifted that restriction. We can now accept and underwrite applications above our non-medical limits for all our products. We're able to do this as we can now offer face-to-face medical screenings, alongside remote ones."
Guardian said that some forms of medical evidence, such as an Exercise ECG, are still difficult to get at the moment, and it added that some GP practices are still unwilling to complete reports. "In these situations we'll be unable to offer terms. Our ability to get medical evidence will vary by geography, client, and local NHS practices."
The insurer said that it will do its best to get the medical evidence it needs for applications above the non-medical limits. "If we're unable to get the evidence we need, and have enough information to be able to make a decision, we'll reduce the amount of cover to below our non-medical limits and offer terms on that basis," said Guardian.
Guardian said the return of physical screenings will allow it to offer terms to more applications and access tests not suitable for remote screenings.
The insurer said MSS will contact every client before the screening to discuss the safeguards they've put in place.
It added: "We're pleased to say that following our successful pilot we'll continue to offer remote medical screenings where suitable for cases below the non-medical limits. Having both remote and face-to-face medical screenings available means we can offer a wider range of medical tests and options for clients."
Legal & General
Legal & General will be reintroducing face-to-face medical screenings from 15 June 2020.
Like others, the insurer had paused the use of face-to-face medical screenings for new protection customers in line with government guidance in response to COVID-19.
Legal & General said it is working in partnership with its medical providers, has introduced a number of health and safety measures as it resumes face-to-face medical screenings. These include social distancing, where appropriate, and full PPE to be used by health professionals.
Customers who require a screening will be contacted in advance of their appointment by Legal & General's medical partners to discuss the additional measures and ensure that the customer is happy to proceed with the examination.
LV= has officially confirmed it has re-introduced face-to-face medical examinations in partnership with Square Health following the introduction of safety protocols.
LV= said its new measures include social distancing, the use of PPE, single use equipment and conducting examinations in private gardens where possible.
Staff will receive training on the new safety measures and COVID-19 risk assessments taken before customers can book an appointment. Underwriters at LV= will continue to review all new personal and business protection cases to assess if a physical examination is absolutely necessary.
To limit the risk to LV= policyholders and health practitioners, Square Health will reduce physical contact using telephone interviews. Where a face-to-face examination is not appropriate, Square Health is able to revert to using virtual screenings for life insurance applications. Alternative options will be considered for those uncomfortable with home visits, such as using existing medical information or reducing the amount of cover.
Royal London resumed medical screenings for protection applicants on Thursday, 11 June.
The insurer said its medical screening partners, Medicals Direct Group and Square Health, have introduced safety controls in light of COVID-19 to minimise the health risks for applicants.
The new processes include the mandatory use of personal protection equipment and single use equipment wherever possible. All repeatedly used equipment, for example iPads, will be disinfected before every appointment.
Royal London, which is not offering virtual medical screenings at present, added that some applicants may not wish to or be unable to have a face-to-face exam, so when a medical is requested, the medical provider will undertake a pre-appointment phone call with the individual to discuss the suitability of an exam. If the exam cannot proceed for any reason the case will be referred back to Royal London's underwriting team to discuss alternatives with the adviser or their client.
The Exeter said it is resuming face-to-face screenings where possible. A spokesperson said: "The Exeter has continued to closely monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 to consider how we can safely begin to resume business as usual where possible. As part of our response to the pandemic, we have introduced virtual medical screenings for a number of life and income protection applicants who meet the required criteria. However, as restrictions begin to ease, we are starting to reintroduce face to face medical screenings.
"We are mindful that there will be differing levels of interest for face-to-face appointments, so for applicants who are suitable for a remote screening and aren't yet comfortable with the idea of a face to face meeting, we will do everything we can to accommodate that request. We are working hard with our screening partners, Square Health, to resume face to face screenings where we can, but we acknowledge that it may be some time before we return to pre-coronavirus levels."
Physical screenings were made available to customers taking out VitalityLife insurance on 9 June. The insurer said the move means that advisers are be able to obtain higher levels of cover for their clients.
In order to safely resume face-to-face screenings, which commence tomorrow (9 June), Vitality has introduced new protocols and precautions to ensure the safety of both clients and staff. The return will be managed as a phased return of the team, with the intention to expand to full capacity over the next two months, the insurer revealed.
itality said its nurses have received infection control procedure training and will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during appointments. It added that single use items will be disposed of safely, and all non-single use items will be sanitised after use.
Ahead of the screening, all clients will have to complete a pre-appointment questionnaire to identify COVID-19 exposure or symptoms, and will also be asked by the nurse and bookings team prior to attending any appointment, according to the insurer.
It added that if COVID-19 is suspected, the screening will be postponed. In addition, anyone classed as extremely clinically vulnerable, over 70, or with pre-existing conditions will be strongly advised not to have a screening appointment.
Zurich has restarted carrying out face-to-face screenings for protection policies.
Peter Hamilton, head of retail protection, said: "We have reviewed the processes and procedures the suppliers are putting in place to safeguard customers who will undergo such examinations/screenings and concluded that they are robust and appropriate to the type of service being undertaken.
"Obviously, there will be customers who are understandably unwilling to undertake such screenings, and in these circumstances, we will attempt to progress the cases by utilising remote screenings (where appropriate), by obtaining GP reports (GPRs) or any other appropriate medical evidence."
Zurich said medical screenings will typically be used in a "relatively small proportion" of cases - 6% or so - especially when large sums assured are requested at lower ages to pick up things such as smoking and BMI.