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Hank George FALU, CLU, FLMI 9 July 1946-10 January 2024

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It is with regret that we bring you the news that Hank George died peacefully on 10 January, aged 77. He had been in declining health for some time although, characteristically, he had been active professionally almost to the last. In the world of life insurance underwriting, not just in America but around the globe, Hank was a veritable tour de force, renowned for his encyclopaedic knowledge of insurance medicine, his passion for fair risk assessment, his vocal opposition to outdated underwriting practices, and his tireless championing of underwriters and the underwriting profession. His career began at Northwestern Mutual (which…

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Claims engines – is Cinderella finally going to the ball?

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Decision engines have been used for underwriting life business for close on 40 years now. They have evolved from simple engines processing predominantly ‘clean’ cases into systems capable of assessing substandard cases (including some with multiple adverse risk factors) and using information from external databases in real time as part of the process. STP (straight through processing) rates of cases which require no human intervention, can, in some markets, be 80% or even higher, leaving scarce underwriting resources to concentrate on the more complex cases. In 2011, SelectX, in conjunction with claims specialist Karin Lloyd, looked at the use of…

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The right to be ‘forgotten’

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What is the right to be forgotten (RTBF)? According to Insurance Europe, “A RTBF requires insurance to be offered without considering all relevant risk factors.” [1] In recent years there has been increasing focus on potential discrimination against cancer survivors in the application of life insurance for home loan or other credit protection.[1] Therefore, in 2021 the European Commission published ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’, stating that Europe needed renewed commitment to cancer prevention, treatment, and care. Buried in the section entitled ‘Improving the quality of life for cancer survivors and carers’ is a statement about access to financial services, which…

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Meeting the Prime Minister

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… not in the course of business but in Peter Maynard’s life outside SelectX as a train driver. Peter works as a volunteer driver of steam (and diesel) locomotives on two ‘heritage’ railways – there are many such lines in the UK which aim to recreate the railway travelling experience of decades ago, and especially the atmosphere and special charm of steam power. On 16 August, the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, visited various places during a tour of the East Midlands. One such was the Great Central Railway, whose headquarters are at Loughborough. Peter says “I was warned that…

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You can die only once… but can you die of only one thing?

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By Tom McCarthy* and Doug Ingle† Life is finite. That is one certainty we all understand. The final resolution… death. In many basic ways, this simple but universal concept is what fuels the life insurance industry. In most instances the unknown is when, during an individual’s life span, death will rear its ‘ugly head’. The concept of risk selection or underwriting exists in order to allow insurance carriers to try to ‘predict’ what a given individual’s remaining life expectancy might be. This comes from close review of medical and non-medical history either in detail (in traditional underwriting) or via data…

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RiskApps annual report 2022

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RiskApps, our independent underwriting manual has continued to develop through 2021 and we have made a number of updates to both the content and functionality: Early in the year we released a number of updates to key medical topics such as multiple sclerosis and cannabis More recently we also updated the Dementia topic after in depth research including more than 20 clinical papers We have also added new topics such as Duplex kidney, Pineal cyst, Postural tachycardia syndrome and Gender dysphoria The coronavirus topic has been regularly updated as our knowledge improves There have also been a number of updates…

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Announcing… exciting new features for RiskApps on-line underwriting manual

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RiskApps is an online underwriting manual providing underwriters with rating guidelines for life, critical illness and disability covers. The only independent manual world-wide and produced by SelectX in partnership with software experts MML Solutions, it has rivalled the manuals historically produced by the major reinsurers in terms of scope, quality of guidance and functionality. Now RiskApps is leaping ahead. Taking advantage of the latest development technology, it is being re-platformed in order to deliver major benefits to users and to enable quicker and easier ongoing product development. The re-design includes a brand-new look with space optimisation that makes navigation easier…

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Balancing risk and trust: What’s the ‘right’ evidence?

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By Gary Bundock and Tom McCarthy It is interesting (well, we think so) to reflect on how evidence requirements differ from market to market. In some places – and the UK is a good example – one can buy what might seem a huge amount of cover on the basis of an application form only. Yet elsewhere virtually every application, certainly for pure life cover, needs a medical exam of some kind. And often, lab tests and maybe an ECG as well. The considerable differences between markets in terms of underwriting practice are due to a variety of factors, such…

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What’s happened to the standard rates pool?

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By Peter Maynard I always remember being told, early in my underwriting career (I’ll leave you to guess when that might have been), that it was the duty of the underwriter to accept as many cases as possible at the ordinary (standard) rate of premium – while maintaining equity between policyholders, of course. This was in the interests of inclusivity: making affordable insurance available to as wide a group as possible. And in many markets, certainly the UK, that goal was faithfully achieved: 95% (or even more) of applicants accepted at standard, 1% or less declined or postponed, and the…

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Whither* underwriting?

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As ever, change is constant, but these days we all notice it more because the pace of change is quicker and still accelerating. In the 1990s one could look back and find that life and disability underwriting was little different from how it had been 50 years before. In fact, SelectX was formed getting on for 20 years ago with the aim of prodding the industry towards better ways of doing things and moving underwriting truly into the 21st century. Today, encouraging companies to innovate is largely unnecessary: they get the need. Instead, they need pushing onto the up-escalator of…

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