The private medical insurance industry has ‘stood up manfully’ to challenges posed by the Coronavirus crisis, according to Stuart Scullion, Chairman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII).
Mr Scullion’s comments were made as part of an address to AMII member firms at the Association’s Virtual AGM – the first in its 22-year history – as the industry took stock of the unprecedented impact of Covid-19.
He praised insurers and cash plan providers for quickly and efficiently ‘standing up to the task’ of enhancing benefits, ensuring products continue to deliver value, and introducing a range of financial support measures to help those consumers and businesses who are struggling financially.
Independent hospital providers were also highlighted by Mr Scullion, after passing almost their entire capacity to the NHS ‘virtually overnight’ in an historic deal in March.
He said: “I believe our insurers and cash plan providers have stood up manfully to the tasks and challenges posed by the current circumstances we find ourselves in. “They have continued to ensure that products deliver value and have supported those businesses and consumers who need them most.”
The AMII Chairman also paid tribute to NHS and care sector frontline workers during the event, which was attended by delegates from AMII member firms.
And, in looking forward, Mr Scullion continued his call for Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) to be zero-rated in line with other long-term products as a means of reducing the strain on an ‘already over-stretched’ NHS. This follows an announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, of a further review into IPT.
Mr Scullion said: “With the NHS taking the frontline strain of the Coronavirus, it has fallen to independent private hospitals to step in and support routine and ongoing NHS treatments. That situation cannot prevail indefinitely.
“At some stage the Government is going to have to increase tax revenues in order to re-build our economy. Timing will be crucial, and I expect tax increases to be phased to ensure the recovery does not stall.
“As has been evidenced by recent events, a strong private health sector delivers invaluable benefits, and reduces the strain on an already over-stretched NHS.” During the virtual AGM meeting it was announced that the Terms of Office for Mr Scullion, along with four members of AMII’s Executive Committee, will be extended by a further year.
The Association has spearheaded a range of initiatives to support member firms including an industry-wide scheme for the digital transfer of personal data and underwriting directly between insurers.
The initiative, which includes both AMII and non-AMII members and already has the backing of 80 per cent of the association’s insurer partners, is expected to be formally announced later this year.
Closing the Virtual AGM, Mr Scullion said: “Collectively and individually we in the private medical sector make a huge contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation – of businesses, of employees and of individual consumers.
“I don’t believe any of us are going to let a Coronavirus get in the way of that.”