I was recently invited by the the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (AMII) to be a guest at their Annual General Meeting. From a relatively low profile since its inception in 1998, it has really built up a head of steam over the last few years and is now quite an influential body with the ear of most of the private medical insurers. In an industry that does not require any qualifications to sell advice, their drive to increase professionalism is welcome. 

The membership is mainly made up of small to medium size brokers although they tell me that one of the largest Employee Benefit Consultancies is just about to join. Where one goes, others will follow which will massively increase AMII’s standing as a representative body. They are also now working closely with The Association of British Insurers (ABI) and The British Insurance Brokers Association ( BIIBA) as health insurance gets more recognition as a strategic purchase rather than just a perk for senior management.

AMII have introduced a new Private Medical Insurance exam in conjunction with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) of which I am a qualified Associate. Whilst not yet mandatory for those working in private medical insurance, at least it’s a start.

In conjunction with BIIBA, they have also just produced a standard template letter of authority to help eradicate the confusion that abounds in certain sectors as to whether brokers have secured a client appointment or just got their permission to carry out a market review.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, in an industry full of conflicts of interest and sharp practice, I would advise employers to make use of any available reference point in choosing who they pay to advise them. Being a member of AMII might be a useful reference point. All insurance intermediaries are required to be registered with the FSA but I’m afraid this doesn’t necessarily mean that they always act in the client’s best interests, particularly those whose revenue model is purely based on commission.

With most insurers still offering 10% commission on renewal and up to 45% commission for new business, the next time your intermediary recommends a change to a new insurer, you must satisfy your self that it is in your best interests, not theirs.

There’s still a long way to go to ensure that both insurers and intermediaries really do Treat Their Customers Fairly. The principles that AMII are beginning to embed are positive steps.