“Trust in intermediaries crucial”

The health insurance profession must address the issue of trust amongst the public if it is not to be tainted by the mistrust growing in the institutions of public life says Mike Izzard, chairman of AMII.

Speaking at AMII’s annual conference Izzard said the new qualification being worked on in association with the CII was essential to the future health of the sector and pointed to the recent political debacle over politicians’ expenses and the low public perception of the banking industry as examples of how an aura of mistrust can cripple the efficient functioning of entire sectors. Izzard said the future looked rosy for the healthcare sector provided it could retain and build trust in the eyes of the general public.

In a panel debate on the theme of What professionalism means for a PMI intermediary, panellists were asked how in the current climate it is possible to build trust in a short space of time with clients.

Izzard said: “We have a lot of work to do I admit, as AMII works to gain and keep the trust of existing clients and grow new ones. For the next four to five years health insurance intermediaries are going to experience a booming market. As the NHS experiences funding problems, as cancer drugs come in more and more, the market for PMI will be buoyant. But we have to get over some problems. Currently any sort of financial advisers are all tarred with the same brush as bankers and politicians it seems. We have to enhance our own credentials and the PMIqualification AMII is working on together with the CII goes some way towards doing that.”

Some intermediaries however questioned why they should bother doing an exam. Branko Bjelobaba, director of Branko Ltd said exams were becoming expected in intermediary markets today: “As standards are constantly ramped up, all intermediaries have to improve their game and there is nothing wrong with doing that by going down the qualification route as well as the competency route.”

He said: “Exams at certain levels can be onerous, but intermediaries have nothing fear. They should start as soon as they can … and if you are going to sell, then sell, sell, sell, now.”