Consumers need to protect their underwriting status and not cancel policies, says AMI chairman
Stuart Scullion, chair of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries, has said that the recent deal between the NHS and private health sector to free up an additional 8,000 hospital beds and almost 20,000 staff will "provide much needed support" as coronavirus spreads.
"These additional resources may be used to enable the NHS to continue to carry out other urgent operations and cancer treatments," he said.
The Guardian has reported that NHS hospitals could run out of beds in as little as two weeks if the virus continues to spread as it did in Italy.
"Not only are the private hospital groups providing staff and facilities, but they are doing it at cost and we are asking all insurers and intermediary firms to come together, irrespective of whether they are AMII members or not, to fight COVID-19 as one," said Scullion.
He added that insurers must be adaptable and flexible in supporting clients to maintain vital cover provided by all insurances, especially private medical insurance (PMI) and health cash plans.
"Unemployment, reduced hours and financial worries mean there is a key role for our members to play in support of clients.
"It would be easy to say, ‘Why should I keep my cover when I may be unable to access private hospital facilities?' but private medical insurance and health cash plans provide much more than hospital treatment.
"Digital GP services, employee assistance programmes and digital and telephone-based mental health support can be invaluable to customers at this difficult time and continue to deliver real value to customers."
According to Scullion, insurers are looking at a number of options from payment holidays to enhanced NHS cash benefits for those who contract COVID-19 to ensure products continue to deliver value.
He added it is important customers protect their underwriting value status. "PMI is not like a TV subscription service that you can cancel and recommence when you are ready. Consumers need to protect their underwriting status and cover to ensure they do not find themselves with a new Moratorium or exclusions applied."
Scullion said intermediaries have a responsibility to convey this message clearly and that AMII is encouraging anyone thinking of cancelling cover to speak with their intermediary or insurer before they do so.
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