Business protection consultant at Pangea Life, Lee Thomas, discusses the company's sponsorship of the Private Equity Firm of the Year category for the Solent Deals Awards 2022.
Thomas also talks about the challenges Pangea faced during the pandemic and the recent trends emerging in the insurance sector this year in this exclusive interview.
The Solent Deals Awards 2022 will take place in the Hilton Ageas Bowl on 24 March, bringing together dealmakers from the Solent and South Coast.
We work closely with a large number of the companies and individuals nominated so wanted to show our support in recognising the hard work all of them have done.
Obviously, it goes without saying that they need to be good at what they do. Unquestionably, team members put a lot of work into supporting their clients to complete deals. I think the sheer amount of hours people put into these deals can go unnoticed. They all make a massive commitment to their clients to get the best outcomes for them under, often, intense time deadlines. What is also very obvious is how many of the teams in the room work so well with each other and collaborate across organisations to get the best outcomes.
We faced a number of challenges early on.
First of all, as for most people, there was a lot less business to be done. Quite naturally businesses paused to assess the situation, how it might impact them, what it could do to their plans, how they were going to survive etc so referrals dried up.
During the first 6 months of the pandemic we also had a significant problem providing large Key Person policies as it was almost impossible to medically underwrite individuals. Nurse screenings and getting reports from GPs was practically impossible.
Finally, the insurers were very uncertain on what the impact of the pandemic might have on claims and so there were a number of new restrictions on what we could underwrite.
However, for at least the last year, business has bounced back and we’ve done very well. If anything, the pandemic has made people more conscious of the risks we help mitigate. It’s increased awareness that the biggest point of failure in smaller businesses is something happening to one of the key individuals.
I don’t think I can say there’s anything specific to the region, more the country as a whole.
The single, most worrying trend has been the significant decrease in claims for critical illnesses. This can only be down to the fact fewer people are being diagnosed because they haven’t been to their GP with symptoms, which would ordinarily provide an early red flag. The worry is that there will be a surge in late-stage cancer diagnoses further down the line, which would previously have been caught much earlier when they had more chance of being successfully treated.
There’s also been a significant increase in new business for private health insurance and company sick pay insurance. With the NHS under such pressure, more and more businesses are seeing the value of providing their staff with access to private hospital care. Also, furlough showed what a difference it makes to staff if they can continue to receive their pay should they be unable to work, rather than survive on benefits, so sick pay insurance has certainly resonated with a lot more business owners.
Finally, with so many businesses having staff work from home or move to hybrid models we’ve seen a lot more interest in the support services provided through these insurances, particularly access to mental health support, virtual GPs etc.
It’s difficult to say. I think business will essentially carry on as usual and that the sector will continue to grow as people’s appetite for risk reduces.
We have seen some interesting recent changes, including some underwriters taking a different approach to high-risk individuals if they are unvaccinated.
For more information on the Solent Deals Awards 2022, please visit our event page.