What is the Private Medical Insurance handbook and why is Equipsme in it?

What is the Private Medical Insurance handbook and why is Equipsme in it?

This year, Equipsme made its debut appearance in the Private Medical Insurance Handbook – the industry Bible of Private Medical Insurance providers for the last 30 years.

For us, being included alongside some of the largest health insurance providers in the market – and holding our own - is a pretty special moment. So we thought we’d have a chat to the Handbook’s Founder and Publisher Andrew Green about what the Handbook is, and the changes he’s beginning to see in the sector.

Hi Andrew! What IS the PMI Handbook?

In a nutshell, it’s a guide which aims to make understanding the UK PMI market easy.

The guide is produced annually and compares both ‘company’ and ‘individual’ PMI policies from more than 20 providers. The latest edition has 265 pages and contains information on hundreds of plans which enables like-for-like comparisons to be made easily and quickly.

Who is the Handbook for?

Health insurance is an incredibly complex and constantly shifting marketplace, so keeping on top of it all can be tough. That’s where the Handbook comes in – and why it also includes things like a glossary of terms, trying to de-mystify the jargon that’s unique to PMI.

It’s mainly for brokers, to help them get the right cover for clients. Some heads of benefits at larger corporations also buy it when reviewing their options.

When and why did you start it?

It all started 30 years ago when the PMI sector was being shaken up in the early 1990s. A household name general insurer had entered the market. Suddenly, there were many more PMI options available - and an increasing number of brokers getting involved in the sector.

I actually had no intention of working in insurance at the time, but coming from a market research and communications background, I felt drawn to the developing PMI market from a research perspective. I worked out how I wanted to compare the different products - just for myself - and produced my own ‘guide’ to get a feel for the market. When I’d done that, it changed my mind and decided I would get involved in PMI because it was so different from traditional general insurance!

As I researched all of the products and met with sales consultants from the various PMI companies to build my guide, they all wanted to take it back to the office with them. I realised it would also help other intermediaries and it just took off from there.

I took my research to a publisher but they wanted too much money from it. So, I said no thanks and decided to start up Craigdallie Publishing and produce it myself! It was literally started from nothing on my dining room table with a heat binding machine. And the rest is history!

What does Craigdallie do now?

We still publish the Handbook through Craigdallie Publishing, and supply many copies to intermediaries and insurers every year, both hard-copy and electronic. The book is now in its 30th year of publication. We still have great links with Healthcare and Protection Magazine which was originally born out of the Handbook and the database we developed of health and protection contacts.

There’s also a consultancy side to the business. At Craigdallie Healthcare we’re specialist corporate advisors too, and out there helping clients run large schemes.

Why did Equipsme make the Handbook this year?

Just like a new entrant to the market shook it up 30 years ago, I think Equipsme is very much doing the same thing now.

The fact is it’s been a relatively stagnant market, with many of the same businesses moving around between the existing providers. It’s been a breath of fresh air to see someone like Equipsme come in. It’s a different concept with a different approach – designed to make private health cover appeal to and work for companies that have never had PMI before.

It’s been great to be able to reflect that as a wider option within the Handbook. The book is all about making sure brokers are aware of as many options out there as possible, so it was very important to have Equipsme in the book.

What changes have you seen over the last 30 years?

There has been product development along the way with the introduction of additional well-being benefits on top of the core PMI cover - with more yet to come. In general, there has been market growth over the years but not enough to set the world on fire. Post-pandemic, lots of people are predicting more growth – I believe the only way that can really happen is if there are more options that work for different sorts of businesses.

I think we’re seeing more companies, particularly start-ups, wanting to start out on the right foot with their benefits packages – to attract and keep the right people. I can see Equipsme appealing to companies with younger staff who are going to be more interested in the immediate practical benefits and less concerned with the absence of cancer treatment cover, and younger businesses are going to be happy to be able to keep costs down.

The problem with a lot of PMI is that if people claim, the premiums can go up with some providers, A LOT. That can quickly become unsustainable at renewal, and that’s very much what’s held a lot of businesses back from PMI. Equipsme’s model simplifies the whole thing and makes it a possibility for companies that haven’t had private health cover before. That’s a very welcome development.

And whatever shakes all the other providers up has got to be good, too!

How can people get a copy of the Handbook?

People can subscribe by getting in touch with Craigdallie either on (01444) 454849 or info@thepmihandbook.com.