Long COVID

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COVID-19 is an acute, albeit sometimes fatal illness, right? Not necessarily so. While many who become infected by COVID-19 make a full recovery, a significant minority experience persisting symptoms. Indeed, the illness is highly variable in nature, with symptoms ranging from minimal (or even none) to severe respiratory distress and organ failure. In some cases respiratory symptoms may be absent. Risk of severe symptoms, need for hospitalisation and death appear to depend on a number of factors including age, gender, obesity, the presence of co-morbid conditions and ethnicity. The duration of in-patient hospitalisation can vary greatly: recently a man in…

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COVID-19 – some insights

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There remains much debate about Coronavirus and the many ways in which it has affected, is affecting and will affect societies: for example, the death tolls so far and in future, ways to suppress its activity, the value of testing, tracing and monitoring, the economic impact of ‘lockdowns’ and whether governments have responded appropriately in a timely manner. It is interesting to compare how countries around the world are doing in their battle to beat the virus. Joseph Lu, working on behalf of the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group1, has published an analysis and concluded2 that many small countries from Albania…

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The return of tele-interviewing?

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We have always been fans of tele-interviewing and have authored or co-authored two seminal reports on the subject over the years1,2. Tele-interviews, when carried out by well trained individuals, ideally with a medical, nursing or underwriting background, can bring new and more detailed disclosures than may be the case when applicant is questioned by an agent or broker. Figures from Morgan Ash, a long-standing tele-interview provider in the UK which uses trained nurses to conduct its interviews, claims a significant improvement, bases on analyses, in disclosures and a reduction in the amount of missing information compared with an attending physicians…

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Prognosis and survival in HIV infection

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The news that a ‘second person’ (see later) has been cleared of HIV infection is a reminder that HIV infection is far from the death sentence it once was. It might also jog our industry’s collective conscience that many HIV-infected individuals are insurable risks and that protection cover might be found for more of them. The first person to become HIV-negative after having been infected was Timothy Brown, the so-called ‘Berlin patient’. Brown, an American citizen, was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while studying in Berlin and began antiretroviral therapy. In 2006 he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia for…

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Smoking, vaping and non-smoking

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There has been some pondering within the industry lately about smoking and e-cigarettes and whether the latter deserves more lenient treatment – specifically, should e-cigarette users (or ‘vapers’) be entitled to a reduction on the usual smoker premium surcharge? The dangers of smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes are well known and well understood. On the face of it, vaping is safer since e-cigarettes deliver nicotine without the dangerous tars and other toxins found in tobacco smoke. However, there are concerns about the safety of the nicotine-containing liquid that is vaporised for inhalation to the lungs. Some individuals have suffered acute…

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Mental health underwriting: Defining best practice

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Our previous article discussed how risks associated with mental illnesses may not always be what one might think in both magnitude and causes of mortality, especially if environmental factors such as socioeconomic status and support networks are taken into account. So how can we underwrite these cases better? How can we reach fair decisions quickly and efficiently? Let’s deal with life and critical illness covers first. For a start, many cases of anxiety and mild depression can be regarded as standard risks, so long as the underwriter is happy that the case is straightforward with no adverse features. Even cases…

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Mental health underwriting: Rising to the challenge

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Mental health and how it affects employment and commercial relationships has come increasingly under the spotlight recently. And maybe not before time. Somatic (that is, physical) illnesses tend to engender sympathy and understanding. But illnesses of the psyche are somehow in a class of their own – and not in a good way. They run contrary to popular perceptions of what is ‘good’; that is, health, fun and success – the sort of things one shares with friends via social media. Diagnoses like anxiety and depression, on the other hand, imply weakness and failure. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are difficult…

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Re Medical Group and SelectX join forces via strategic alliance

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Re Medical Group, the Netherlands-based life/disability underwriting and claim processing specialist, and SelectX have created a strategic alliance that will enable the two firms jointly to offer powerful new propositions to clients around the world. René Mogge, founder and CEO of RMG, said “This strategic alliance is important for Re Medical Group because SelectX opens new markets for us outside the EU. Furthermore, with the services of SelectX we can offer a complete range of products and services for insurers and reinsurers in every area of medical underwriting and claim handling.” Gary Bundock, Director at SelectX commented “This new partnership…

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SelectX and CumPane Solutions announce a strategic partnership

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Not our thoughts exactly, but rather some news… SelectX and CumPane Solutions today announce the formation of strategic partnership to deliver market-leading automated underwriting solutions and consulting services to the life insurance market in North America. The life insurance industry is increasingly focused on providing a smoother buying experience and reducing the time and cost of underwriting, whilst maintaining a robust risk selection framework. A new range of accelerated products is emerging, combining algorithmic and rule-based approaches. Embedding domain expertise into these solutions is critical for success, in terms of both the customer experience and underwriting outcomes. The SelectX/CumPane partnership…

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Predictive models – again

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A little while back we published an article about the circular letter issued in January to insurers by the New York State Department for Financial Services concerning the use of external consumer data and information sources for life insurance underwriting. On the face of it, the circular constitutes a stark warning for insurers and places severe restrictions on how they use data for risk assessment and pricing purposes. And in a way it is and it does, but its stipulations are not exactly unreasonable. Indeed, largely it makes pretty good sense. Indirect use of discrimination factors that are outlawed is…

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