In brief…

Sales of income protection insurance to consumers rose by 13.5% in 2008 to 126,815 (111,780 in 2007), according to Swiss Re’sTerm & Health Watch. The figures, which were released as Health Insurance went to press, also show that new whole of life business is now at the highest level since 2000, showing an increase of 28.8% (totalling 282,438 policies). New term assurance sales totalled 1,447,895 policies, down 6.1% compared with 2007. However, critical illness sales fell 4.7% to 511,045. Look out for more on the figures in next month’s magazine.

Norwich Union Healthcare is to replace its Global Care policies with a new modular plan. The International Solutions product willinclude “wellness benefits” and a co-payment option. Andrew Turner, head of international at Norwich Union Healthcare, said: “While Norwich Union Healthcare’s main focus in recent years has been on growing our UK private medical insurance(PMI) market share, we have nearly 20 years’ experience in international PMI. We are keen to build on our previous successes by pro-actively targeting the international PMI market and by leveraging the opportunities created by our integration with the wider Aviva Group.”

Bright Grey new business was up 18% to £45m (present value of new business premiums) in the first quarter of 2009. Scottish Provident, also owned by Royal London, recorded £55m of new business in protection. Royal London said Bright Grey’s strong increase, achieved despite the falling mortgage market, could be attributed to its close work with IFAs.

Bupa has sold its childcare business, Teddies Nurseries, to Bright Horizons Family Solutions, in a deal which creates the largest network of nurseries in the UK. Since acquiring 18 Teddies nurseries in 2000, Bupa has grown the business to a chain of 32 facilities, caring for more than 3,000 children and babies. Bright Horizons said it intends to maintain all of the nursery teams as part of Bright Horizons. The sale of the nurseries chain is among a number of deals recently conducted by Bupa both in the UK and globally. In 2007 it sold its 25 private UK hospitals for £1.44bn to private equity and since then Britain’s largest health insurer has been largely acquisitive.

Westfield Health has increased reimbursement levels on its most popular benefits, following a comprehensive review of its core health cash plans. The review of Westfield’s Advantage and Good4you Plans are available from June 1 for new policyholders and companies, and will come into effect on September 1 for existing policyholders and companies. Optical, dental and dental trauma benefits have each been increased by an average of five per cent and the daily allowance on the day surgery benefit has been increased by an average of 10%. Additionally, the hospital inpatient benefit allowance has been reduced from 30 to 20 nights to reflect the decrease in the average length of hospital stays. Advantage and Good4you Plan premiums have increased for the first time in almost four years “in order to sustain viability”, Westfield said. Westfield has also brought reimbursement rates on level 5 in line with levels 1 to 4. This means that 100% reimbursement is available on the most valued benefits – optical, dental and dental trauma – while 75% reimbursement is available on the chiropody, consultation, therapies, homeopathy, home care, surgical appliance and health screening benefits.

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