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Bupa slams Tesco’s PMI debut

Rival provider claims lack of medical history questionnaire will leave clients confused over extent of cover.

Bupa has criticised Tesco Personal Finance’s move into private medical insurance and claims its products are confusing.

The products, offered in a tie-up with Axa PPP Healthcare, aim to be simple and beat competitors on price, with no medical questionnaire for applicants under age 76.

However, Bupa says consumers will be confused about what they are covered for.

Bupa Health Insurance commercial director Steve Flanagan says: “By not requesting a person’s medical history when they first buy cover, people may not fully understand what they are covered for until they claim, which for some will be too late.”

Tesco policyholders can build up a no-claims discount of up to 55 per cent over four years.

Flanagan says: “Much has been made of the no-claim discounts on offer but these could discourage some people from seeking early treatment, which cannot be good. People should have access to high quality treatment as and when the need arises and not feel penalised or discouraged from seeking medical help.

“People may pay less for Tesco health insurance but it could cost them dearly in the end.”

Tesco says its products will be priced up to 32 per cent lower than those from comparable providers.

Lifesearch head of protection strategy Kevin Carr says: “It is a normal Axa contract and there is nothing wrong with it but there are more competitive products out there. You can never beat anyone on price as a tied distributor.”

Moneysupermarket.com protection manager Emma Walker says: “The option to take advice is important in choosing the most appropriate financial protection and this is conspicuously missing from Tesco’s offering.”

Tesco Personal Finance head of savings and investments Jeremy Sutton says: “Customer research suggests perceived high prices, complicated products and complex medical questions have been major stumbling blocks to buying health insurance. We aim to change that by offering products that are simple, good value and easy to buy.”

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