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Law change will add time

Non-contestability period could see insurers becoming more selective on who can take out protection policies

The protection market will have to go through a more time-consuming and intrusive underwriting process if the Law Commission brings in a non-contestability period on protection products.

Speaking at the Money Marketing Live roadshow in Manchester last week, Scottish Widows protection marketing manager Nick Kirwan warned the industry not to let stringent underwriting processes become standard practice if a non-contestability period is introduced.

Under the Law Commission’s proposals, protection providers will be forced to pay out on all claims on policies held for three years or more, assuming that the claim is non-fraudulent.

Even if non-disclosure is proven, claims could only be contested on these grounds within the first three years of the product which means that insurers and reinsurers will be more selective about who they insure.

Sesame product manager Phil Hull said more stringent underwriting at the point of sale will lead to longer application forms and a heavier reliance on GP reports, which he said will be a barrier to selling protection policies.

RGA head of sales and marketing Jason Hurley said it will be harder for customers to get life and critical-illness cover at a standard premium rate. He said: “Insurers will naturally be more fussy at the underwriting stage as to who they put on the books. This means a much more time- consuming and intrusive underwriting process, both medical and financial.

“I am not saying that non-contestability is a bad idea, it is clearly well intended to boost confidence in the industry. I am saying that we need to be careful as to the position that we could end up in.”

Prudential head of propo- sition development Paul Cowman said: “The concern I have is over the significantly more underwriting done in the US due to their non-contest- ability period. This could have a negative effect on the protection industry.”

A record total of 1,130 advisers attended Money Marketing Live last week at Manchester’s G-Mex Arena.


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