Victory for independent advice as Bupa directs consumers to specialist brokers

Some consumers were previously directed to Unbiased.co.uk

Bupa will now direct any consumers seeking intermediary advice to an Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII) firm, after changing its policy for intermediary enquiries.

Previously, some sales agents on the web chat function of Bupa’s website had been directing consumers who said they wanted to speak to an intermediary to Unbiased.co.uk, which offers a search function for general IFAs.

The change comes after Health Insurance revealed earlier this month that Bupa is to stop selling private medical insurance to individuals through intermediaries from 31 August.

Britain’s largest private medical insurance (PMI) provider confirmed that it would be closing its ClientChoice, Bupa Care, Local Care, Local Hospital Care and Essential Care products, through both its intermediary and direct channels.

This week, an AMII committee member identified that consumers were being directed to Unbiased.co.uk, and following discussions between the intermediary body and Bupa, the provider agreed to direct customers to the ‘find a broker’ page of the AMII website instead.

A spokeswoman for Bupa said while it was never a company-wide policy to direct consumers to Unbiased.co.uk, some sales agents did do so.

She said: “We have always tried to support customers who want to talk to an intermediary. The old link was one that was deemed appropriate and independent at the time; however, we will be providing the AMII link going forward.”

Bupa says it will also use the AMII link for any enquiries of this nature received via email or telephone going forward.

Bupa has confirmed that despite the closure of its ClientChoice, Bupa Care, Local Care, Local Hospital Care and Essential Care products, its direct sales operation will still be able to sell Bupa By You, an individual PMI product, although intermediaries will not.

Debbie Kleiner-Gaines, spokeswoman for AMII, said: “The intermediary community was understandably gobsmacked to hear Bupa’s news last week and it is unfortunate that it leaked before Bupa had a chance to inform intermediaries of the decision.

“AMII responded to the leak immediately by contacting Bupa to seek clarification and a meeting was arranged for Monday this week.”

She said AMII took members’ questions and views to Bupa and also brought the matter of referrals to Unbiased.co.uk to the insurer’s attention.

Kleiner-Gaines said: “The speed at which Bupa agreed and then changed its processes so that customers are now sent to AMII’s website was really positive.  

“We know our members are putting their faith in AMII to represent their views and our discussions with Bupa are ongoing.”

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