PruProtect warning over access requests

PruProtect has criticised insurers’ use of subject access requests to bypass GP reports when obtaining customers’ medical information.

In March 2010, the Association of British Insurers and the British Medical Association agreed a £97 fee for GP medical reports, with a 21-day maximum turn-round.

The agreement expired in March 2011 and was not renewed. Insurers and advisers have complained that GPs are now taking too long to supply the reports.

A number of insurers, including Legal & General, have instead started using SARs, where a client can ask their GP for access to their full medical records for £10. SARs must be supplied within 40 days.

PruProtect head of account development Phil Jeynes (pictured) says: “This is not what subject access requests were designed for. If insurers start inundating GPs with these requests, the turnround time will slow to the 40-day maximum limit, which may not be quicker than a GP report. We want to find smarter ways of obtaining this information.”

Jeynes says PruProtect outsources the collection of medical information to Medicals Direct, which sends a nurse to visit the customer to gather the required details.

He says: “This is cheaper, it comes back substantially quicker than a GP report and it can give us much better information.”

L&G individual protection claims and underwriting director Russell Whitworth says: “An SAR has to be returned within 40 days under legislation, which means we are able to process customers’ applications much quicker so they get the cover they need.”

Risk Assured head of underwriting and claims Jerry Brown says: “I do not think we will see companies paying to have nurses running round the country to do this on every case. I do not think it is scalable.”