Qualifications: Calls made for minimum standard qualifications for underwriters
By Lucy Quinton
Industry experts have called for a minimum standard qualification for underwriters to ensure they have greater confidence when dealing with consumers.
Andy Milburn, IFA market manager for Royal Liver, said underwriters have had a reputation of being locked in a bubble and do not have sufficient confidence to talk to consumers once a loading has been imposed. He added that Royal Liver had long campaigned for minimum standards of qualification for underwriters over this issue.
Problems arise when a case is returned to an IFA with a loading imposed on it because the IFA is not allowed to know the reasons due to the barrier imposed by the Data Protection Act. The consumer has to go through the rigmarole of going to the doctor to find out why, after the GP has written a letter to the chief underwriter to complain.
Roy McLoughlin, senior partner at Master Adviser, said underwriters will only talk via doctors, which means the "IFA has to encourage clients to approach doctors who are impossible to see in the first place".
McLoughlin added that this issue raised questions as to the number of people that have been classed as uninsurable/loaded/rated when, in fact, it was an underwriter who may have incorrectly judged the case.
Peter Chadborn, principal of CBK, said this was an incredibly sensitive area of dialogue and underwriters needed to talk to the client directly.
However, sceptics have suggested that sensitive medical information should come from a doctor rather than an IFA. If a loading has been imposed for "health reasons" and the adviser does not know why, it is probably due to the consumer failing to disclose the information to the adviser, perhaps due to the sensitive nature.
Chadborn added that there were trust issues with this matter. The client trusts the IFA with the financial information so why not with health matters. "The IFA is meant to be fully informed".
Furthermore, he said that, if a loading has been imposed on a case, it suggested there is an even greater likelihood that that person will need to claim in the future. Greater dialogue should be encouraged between underwriters and consumers to ensure a greater understanding of how the case can progress further, he added.
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