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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Insurtech – and the game-changer is…?

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‘Insurtech’: our inboxes are full of news alerts, and hardly a day passes without a notable insurer or reinsurer somewhere commencing a digital initiative, applying artificial intelligence, partnering with a hi-tech high-flyer or investing in a digital/data/analytics start-up. Insurtech is big these days. And rightly so. Technology has the power to transform many aspects of our lives – hopefully in a good way – and to revolutionise how insurance is conducted, from application to claim payment. While a lot of the insurtech research and uptake has been in the property/casualty sphere, life and disability insurance, and of course the consumers…

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Predictive modelling – a view from New York

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By Jason Bowman, Founder & CEO, CumPane Solutions LLC On 19 January 2019, the New York State Department for Financial Services (DFS) issued a circular letter1 concerning the use of external consumer data and information sources for life insurance underwriting. This followed a prior notice sent to insurers that the Department was investigating the use of such data for potentially unfair or discriminatory practices. In the US the deployment of predictive models for life insurance has grown exponentially over the past five years, providing carriers with an opportunity to break out of the preferred underwriting ‘strait-jacket’ that has required anyone…

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Underwriting – the personal approach

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When does personalisation go a step too far? We live in an era of mass customisation or mass personalisation, which is essentially a good thing – except, maybe, when your favourite baristas offer 30-odd permutations of coffee and you agonise over which to choose. In the world of insurance, personalisation must be right to the fore at claim time. The process must be about understanding the individual circumstances and the claimant’s needs, and addressing them accordingly. Maturities excepted, claims involve problems, and the aim of the insurer should be to minimise their impact as much as it can; if it…

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Underwriting mental health

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The underwriting of mental health conditions has always been notoriously difficult. To properly assess such applicants an underwriter needs to look at the complete picture of not only the applicant’s health but also factors such as employment record and support network. But in these days of increasing automation, insurers are under increasing pressure to accept as many cases as possible through an automated process, driving up their straight-through processing (STP) rates and keeping costs down. An engine-based process involves only a few drill-down questions. But mental health risks tend not to lend themselves to this approach very well, if at…

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Mental illness risk

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Our companion article discusses concerns from various quarters about the way insurers handle mental health risks and some of the underwriting practicalities. What sort of magnitude of risk does mental illness present? We offer a handful of observations drawn from dozens of journal articles in our research library. There is plenty of evidence that, generally, mortality is elevated in mental illness. That it should be so in the more severe forms such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder should be no surprise, but it is interesting to note that even milder conditions may present an extra risk. For example, in a…

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