As focus shifts from price led protection to quality led protection; demand for additional benefits from insurers will only continue to grow. Second medical opinion services are one such added benefit. It provides clients with the ability to confirm or dismiss doubts or concerns about a diagnosis or treatment plan by speaking to an alternative medical specialist. With a number of insurers now offering second medical opinion (SMO) services, we investigate whether all services offered are the same.

Access to SMO services are dependent on the insurer and also the product type. Even within the same insurer different propositions may be offered for different product types. The table below highlights which providers offer access to such services and what products they are available on.

Vitality and Zurich do not offer second medical opinion services.

Canada Life and Guardian do not offer Income Protection or Business Protection Products.

There are many reasons why a patient would value a second opinion ranging from;

  • Doubts about the diagnosis
  • Not understanding the information they have been given
  • Reassurance in the diagnosis/treatment when both consultants agree
  • The client may forge a better relationship with the doctor giving the second opinion and therefore have more confidence in what they say
  • The client could be offered a treatment that has not been considered before or may be part of a clinical trial
  • A wider range of treatments could be offered providing a choice to the client
  • Unhappiness with the treatment plan recommended; or
  • They may not feel comfortable discussing their diagnosis or treatment plan with their current doctor or consultant.

There are a number of SMO suppliers in use across the market. Whilst most insurers will just partner with one and use their services across all products, Legal & General have actually partnered with two and offer Red Arc services for those taking a critical illness policy and Healix Health Services Ltd for clients with all other plans.

Insurer

Second Medical Opinion service

AEGON
Red Arc
AIG
Best Doctors
Aviva
Best Doctors
British Friendly
Square Health
Canada Life
Red Arc
Guardian
Red Arc
L&G
Red Arc
LV=
Square Health 
Royal London
Red Arc
Scottish Widows
Red Arc
The Exeter
Square Health 

Medical treatments vary throughout the world and medical advancements are constantly changing. The best medical specialists, facilities and doctors may not always be in the UK so having access to treatment around the world is hugely beneficial. The counter argument to this is that a obtaining a SMO from a UK doctor may be in some circumstances be quicker, and as such less stressful on the client. Of those that offer SMO’s, AIG and Aviva are the only two insurers to provide access to a worldwide panel of specialists via Best Doctors.

UK Only

Worldwide access

Aegon
AIG
Canada Life
AVIVA
Guardian
L&G
LV=
Old Mutual Wealth
Royal London
Scottish Widows
The Exeter

When discussing Second Medical Opinion services with clients it is useful to be able to inform them (as the life assured) that their wider family can have access to the service. Depending on the insurer, the family members that can access the service are different.

The major differences are highlighted in the graph below:

*Guardian will only provide second medical opinion services to children if childrens cover has been taken as part of the plan

Another big difference is when services can be accessed and whether services are offered at any point during the policy lifespan or at point of claim. Of the insurers that offer SMO services, all offer SMO services anytime during the policy except Canada Life.

Second medical opinion services can provide clients with piece of mind. If they are not comfortable with their diagnosis or treatment plan, then it could provide reassurance that they are on the right track and where the opinion differs it can ensure that the correct treatment and prognosis is given (and in some cases save lives). 

2 Comments

  1. John Stevens

    i think the chart is incorrect as a client of mine attempted a second opinion with red arc and was put in touch with a company called healix

    Reply
    • Ross Jackson

      Hi John. It’s a partnership between RedArc and Healix – see http://www.redarc.co.uk/2017/01/second-medical-opinion-service-launched-redarc-nurses/. Added benefit of the RedArc service is that the client gets support from a dedicated RedArc nurse adviser both before and after the second opinion has been sought. This can help the client come to terms with the outcome of a second medical opinion e.g. if it’s not what they were hoping for. Hope this helps.

      Reply

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