Many of the restrictions placed on new policies by Partners Life as a result of Covid-19 will be removed by the company on 1 June 2020.
The company introduced a range of temporary underwriting restrictions to disability products on 24 March.
It also introduced a stand-down period for all new policies requiring six months of premiums to be paid before eligibility for affordability benefits such as Premium Holiday and Policy Suspension would arise.
The company says this was to prevent clients buying cover with no ability or intention to pay for them.
Partners Life says that from 1 June:
- Loss of Revenue and Variable Loss of Revenue Cover benefits can be issued, subject to additional underwriting requirements detailed below
- For non self-employed lives, Agreed Value benefits based on income can be issued. This includes Income Cover, Mortgage Repayment Cover and Household Expenses Cover benefits based on income, subject to additional underwriting requirements detailed below
- The automatic Covid-19 Mental Health exclusion being applied to disability and business risk benefits of any kind has been removed. This blanket exclusion was, says the firm, a response to the unquantifiable stress and anxiety levels in the face of a pandemic and lockdown restrictions. Now that job security and availability is becoming more known, it is to replace the blanket exclusion with targeted, specific underwriting, which is detailed below
The following restrictions are not being reviewed by the firm as it believes the risk is unquantifiable or too high:
- Disability benefits of any kind will still have the occupation class restriction for disabilities first arising while a life assured is unemployed or is on a period of leave without pay
- All new policies issued will still include the six month stand-down on eligibility for Premium Holidays and Policy Suspensions
When it comes to new Financial and Emerging Mental Health underwriting requirements, the company says the material risks it was looking to address have not eased, but can be assessed case-by-case.
From 1 June it will introduce new underwriting processes for all disability and business benefits:
A supplementary questionnaire will be required for the above benefits, looking to quantify and assess known or emerging uncertainty in a client’s employment and income situation – both as individuals and based on the outlook of their applicable industry/business. This questionnaire is designed to determine what types of cover can be justified
In addition to the above financial questionnaire, an additional questionnaire looking at emergent mental health risks will be required for disability and business risk benefits. This questionnaire is designed to identify clients who do not have a medical history of mental health conditions, but who are at a materially higher risk of experiencing one due to Covid-19 related issues
The underwriting assessment of financial stability and security at the date of application, and into the foreseeable future for Agreed Value disability and all business risk benefits will be specifically undertaken by senior underwriters
These questionnaires will be included in the My Underwriting Manager (MUM) platform, and for non-MUM applications, will be available as editable PDF forms through MyPartnersLife from 1 June.
Also from 1 June, any new business policies issued since 24 March with temporary restrictions applied will now be able to be reviewed subject to the following:
Clients who had the automatic mental health exclusion applied will have it automatically replaced with an emergent mental health exclusion which will only ever apply if the life assured is diagnosed and/or treated for a mental health condition within the six months immediately following commencement of the cover.
If not, then no mental health exclusion will ever apply to that cover – meaning there is no need to proactively review the exclusion as it will simply fall away if applicable. However, financial advisers can have it removed altogether, subject to completing the emergent mental health risk questionnaire and underwriting of the information provided
Non self-employed clients who wish to change from indemnity to agreed value benefits must provide the applicable financial information required to assess a conversion. These clients will also be required to complete the emergent mental health risk questionnaire. However, no further health reassessment will be required
The company says in a written statement that these temporary restrictions were made in addition to the permanent restrictions Partners Life introduced to disability products for self-employed clients from 5 April 2020. Those self-employed restrictions will remain in place.