Hall remains tight-lipped about the provider behind the flex technology, but is confident the proposition will launch “this autumn”. Outside of the employer market, BHSF offers a range of products and services including travel insurance, pet insurance and even food intolerance tests. Aside from cash plans, of greater interest to health insurance brokers, though, is BHSF’s cancer offering, Plan4Life. However, the product, Hall concedes, is not that well known among the intermediary community.
“A lot of intermediaries, I don’t think, understand that it [the cancer product] is out there,” he says. “Our direct customers do offer it to their staff but we don’t really see a take up among the intermediaries.”
Hall appreciates that the importance of cancer cover in private medical insurance (PMI) may lead to some specialist intermediaries, especially, failing to register an interest in it.
“I don’t think most intermediaries understand where it fits because we can group rate it,” he says. “So if you’ve got an employer with 200 people who want to put it in, we can group rate that, but it’s not something that gets raised by the broking community very often.”
Hall has been a broker himself – “many” years ago he had a “small” broker business in Coventry – and the intermediary channel is one area which he is particularly passionate about.
“Probably the biggest contribution I’ve made to the business in ten years is the intermediary section of the business and that is a lot about ‘this what you see is what you get’,” he says. “I think the intermediaries, whether they are one man bands, whether they are new up and coming organisations like Team Reward, whether they are the big players like Aon, they want to know who you are and they want to know that if you shook hands on it you are going to stick to it.”
Over a third of BHSF’s new business is introduced in some way by an intermediary and Hall is insistent that there is little tension between the five sales channels he is responsible for.
“It might be that we are supplying one element or two elements of their employee benefits whereas the broker is supplying across the piece of which we are one or two parts,” he says. “And that’s just about honesty, that’s about saying to the broker that this is a competitive situation and it’s about giving them the exact same offer that we are making direct.”
Hall says that he understands that “one or two” of our competitors do not operate that way.
“We are told by a couple of the nationals that they have been undercut by competitors of ours where they’ve given the broker one offer and they’ve undercut it direct,” he says. “It’s not something we do. We’ve got an ethics statement that runs though the company.”
Hall’s straight-talking approach with intermediaries has, he says, paid dividends during the recession.
“Throughout the recession, like every other business, their [intermediaries’] revenue streams have come under pressure and we have had one or two frank discussion with them about their need to find new streams of revenue and to advise in new areas,” he says.