The figures revealed that a total of 6,224,000 people were covered by either personal or corporate PMI in 2008, up 3.7 per cent on 2007, which recorded 6,004,000.
Of this, 4,571,000 were covered by corporate policies, an increase of 5.3 per cent on 2007. However, 1,653,000 were covered by individual policies, a decrease of 0.6 per cent on 2007.
ABI director of general insurance and health Nick Starling says: “The continued rise in the number of people covered by PMI is good news. PMI gives people the peace of mind that they are able to get access to the treatment they need, at the time they need it, where they need it.
“PMI is good for companies and the economy because it enables employees to get back to work after illness or injury as quickly as possible. This is why there has been a continued rise in the number of people covered by corporate policies.”
Bupa research also shows that more people are buying PMI because of fears about superbugs, such as MRSA and C.difficile and general hospital cleanliness.
Bupa UK Health Insurance director Fiona Harris says: “That’s why, despite today’s economic climate, our customers put PMI at the top of the list of things most difficult to cut back on to save money – more so than holidays with 20 per cent, eating out, 10 per cent, pensions and other long-term savings 19 per cent. Two-thirds, 66 per cent of them say that having PMI is very important, or vital to them.”