Our September Protection Forum was another great session with lots of fantastic ideas and opinions discussed between participants. The first topic we covered was actually put to the group by an insurer who was interested in what small things they could change that would help make an advisers life easier. As always, the advisers in attendance didn’t disappoint and suggested a range of things that could help them and their clients. In this article we play back some of the key comments from advisers such as Matthew Chapman, Caroline Ashton, Paul Reed, Emma Astley, Zanele Sibanda & Andrew Pinto.


I sometimes have an issue seeing the changes to non-medical underwriting limits made by providers. It would be nice to be able to see them in real-time and to have a signposting option to show the options available.

It would help to have the limits stated in the illustration and to have them signposted.

Matthew Chapman:

From my point of view, the one thing I keep falling foul of, I don’t know if other advisors have the same issue, but it’s non-medical underwriting limits. So I find when providers make changes to non-medical underwriting limits or I’m looking to place cover, what I find is although Solution Builder, for example, (which is the platform I use) so iPipeline does show the non-med underwriting limits as they were at the time when that happened.

I do find, as you’re going through the quotation or actually the application process generating quotes on the provider’s websites, given that the providers already know what the age limits are or cover limits of that particular band of client, it would be really good to have some mechanism to signpost that and the different options available at that time, because it may just be me, being very disorganised, but I do find myself falling foul of that quite frequently. And it would just help my processes, if I can see that in real time and then be able to give the client better advice and make a decision in real time about whether that’s the right solution or whether we split the cover or look elsewhere or what we can do for the client’s best interest.

I think that’d be really helpful to have it put in the illustration. So, when you’re running a quote for the client, whether it be through Solution Builder or directly on the provider’s website, given that the information is held already by the provider, it would be really good to have that signposted. So I know we’re covering off things like commission structure and payments and some of the key facts the client needs to know. It would be good to signpost the underwriting limits that you and the client could have a conversation around that. Just a thought. It would certainly help me in terms of having those discussions with my clients.

At iPipeline we have updated our services to show non-medical underwriting limits that the providers have shared with us.

Paul Yates:

We have updated our services to provide non-medical underwriting limits – available on the quote response page. Obviously, we are reliant on being told this information by the providers. We actually do get that from the providers and we do update that. We are making sure that we can solve the problem of exceeding non medical limits and knowing about it. Any feedback, please shout out, just have a look at it and tell me if you want it changed or improved.

Providers are always happy for us to connect them with clients, but then often go to communicating directly with them instead of continuing to involve us so we can advise our client.

Caroline Ashton:

I just wanted to pick up on what Lee was saying. He does quite a lot of business protection, which is usually high value. I think part of the problem I have with some of this business is that there doesn’t seem to be a terribly joined up approach when you’ve got a number of individuals that are being underwritten. I’ve had situations where they’re letting the clients put themselves on risk. So, you haven’t necessarily got all the appropriate paperwork in place, whether it be the shareholders agreements all tidied up or their business trusts, and cross option agreements. And I think that they’re happy for the adviser to introduce the business, and this isn’t all companies by any stretch of the imagination, but then they seem to want to cut us out of the equation. And often if you go to a client and they’ll say, “I want to put it on risk because we need this in place for our business”, but everything else has to be in place first. And I find it slightly galling that they don’t seem to want to involve us in the process and they’re communicating with the clients instead. I don’t know if anybody else finds that that happens.

It would be helpful to get early warning notifications real-time rather than daily or weekly.

Paul Reed:

Almost echoing what Emma’s written in the chat there, just picking up on the point about the early warning notifications. Most insurers, I’m just looking down the list of all of the insurers that we work with as a whole of market specialist, and I’m pretty sure they do all have the early warning notifications. Some of them come out daily, some of them might come out every two days. Some of them might be weekly. So I think most notifications should be there to be able to get the notification of any pending cancellations that the query I’ve had with one or two of the insurers has more so been about the frequency of those updates. So where those do come out weekly, whether we can actually get them in real time where we get notification, as soon as it’s missed.

I think one of the insurers in particular does that very well. So in real time notification terms, I think AIG are typically one of the good ones where we do get notifications almost straight away other insurers where they are so weekly notifications, the challenges for them inevitably is going to be technology, of being able to make sure that advisers can get notified in real time or as real time as possible. I’m just looking on my list of insurers here. I think we do get notifications pretty much from every insurer. So the tech is there, it might just be a case of activating settings to be able to get it on.

An easier pre-underwriting system online that’s a bit less time consuming would be appreciated.

Emma Astley:

I think for me it’s the pre-underwriting side that can be a bit awkward sometimes. The type of clients that we have are actually very young and they do have some medical disclosures we need to look into further. So some of the systems are great online. They’re fantastic, but others don’t have that facility. So we have to bring around all the providers. But sometimes, the other day I was on for half an hour waiting to get through to get the policy underwritten. So an easier system would be really appreciated just to try and make things a lot easier from our side. Because it can be really time consuming.

Connected policies aren’t always treated as one thing and therefore get worked on by different underwriters, go on risk at different times, and aren’t considered to have a sum assured worthy of priority underwriting. 

Zanele Sibanda:

With connected policies, and I think somebody mentioned earlier, that they don’t often get treated the same or they don’t get treated as one. So quite a lot of the time you get a number of different policies underwritten, by different underwriters. And one will ask for things where the other hasn’t requested things or where they go on risk at different times. From our perspective, if it’s a business protection key person policy with four, five different key people, the business would want those to go on risk around about the same time, or at least for us to have a degree of control of what happens there. And then there are some insurers who have got priority underwriting, but their priority underwriting only starts at a certain sum assured. Whereas if you have five key person policies at 300,000 each, that’s a sizeable amount, it adds up to what should be treated as a high net worth priority underwriting case. So those are two areas that we often struggle with.

Are other advisers struggling with delays due to GPRs not coming back quick enough?

Andrew Pinto:

It’s become a major issue with GPRS, in some instances delaying policies being issued by up to six to eight weeks, just because we’re not getting the GPRS back quick enough. Many of the surgeries that we’re trying to get them from are quoting COVID as an issue, as well as having people on furlough, et cetera, but there must be an easier system that can assist us with getting the GPRS back quicker. I don’t know if anybody else is having the same problem that we are having?

An option to request that the insurer cover up to the medical underwriting limits while the application process is being carried out would be very useful.

Caroline Ashton:

What would be really useful is, when COVID has been going on and we’ve had all the difficulties getting the medical underwriting, screening and GP reports for application forms, if it would be possible to have a box whereby you tick and say, “please, could you cover up to the medical underwriting limits whilst we’re going through the application process”. Because we found we’re having to go backwards and forward. So they’ve put a new application in to up to the medical underwriting limits and then once the medicals are able to happen again, you’re having to contact the companies directly and say, “now, can you increase it and get the medical underwriting limits?” There didn’t seem to be any automatic process, but I can’t think there’d be many people that wouldn’t want the option whilst the underwriting is happening to be covered up to that level.

When the client is able to help get some of the documents and information it can really speed up the process.

Jon Rose:

So I appreciate, you won’t be able to do it on all disclosures, but in this case, it was a life and CI case and they wanted to go for a GPR. The client had all their documentation, discharge letters, I got all the information across to the insurer and that decision was made within 24 hours. So it was a really slick process. And I think like Ben says, anything that you can get from the client upfront is going to help in the long run, but this wasn’t a serious disclosure, but because we’re looking at critical illness, it did mean that they needed something to back up their underwriting decision. But it all went through within 24 hours with standard rates and it was on risk within two days. So it was all good.

In our process we ask ourselves, “what information would an underwriter need based on what’s disclosed?” We also always follow up with the GP surgery and the providers after the application is done to try and push the client through. Email works for the communication with providers but an online platform would be better.

Emma Astley:

I think as part of our processes I’ve made sure that we asked further questions, and just think about what the underwriter would need. We’ve been doing this for over 10 years now, so you get used to what they want to know about in order to make a decision. So when you’re doing the application, just stop and sit back and think, “right, what are the questions an underwriter would want answered based on that disclosure?” And then complete the application because sometimes you can’t pre-type it and just email that information directly over to the underwriter to help make a decision.

But, we had a client the other day with brain tumor and we actually contacted a consultant. So arrange for a letter of authority from us, from the client. We sent it all to the consultant and he sent us all of the records, the scans, all the information. And we send that securely over to the underwriter and help get us a decision. Part of our processes is that the girls, when we’ve done the application, they will then follow it up with making sure we can get the AMRA they chase the GP surgery after so many days and they’re constantly back and forth with the providers, getting a new update to push that client through really, and hopefully get a decision so we can get them on cover. So yeah, communication is key, but to me, the providers are really good at that really. But it’d be better if there was an online platform for it, but email back and forth gets to the answer and the decisions as well.