PCH Consultant Q&A June 2014 – Phil Knight

This month we have the pleasure of chatting with Phil Knight, one of our outstanding independent health insurance consultants based in West Yorkshire. Phil talks passionately about his time in the industry, what expertise he anticipates people needing in the future and where he sees the industry going as a result of recent trends…

Hi Phil… Tell us a little bit about yourself, your life, how you got into industry?

I’m 43 years old, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire and married with 2 kids (Megan aged 14 and Ryan 8). I don’t have a lot of spare time but am heavily involved in social media, fitness and I am the Assistant Club Instructor at a local karate club where I train and teach twice a week. I’ve been doing karate since 1980 and have black belts in two different martial arts styles.

I’ve been in insurance since 1989 and medical insurance since 1994. Historically I worked as a broker consultant for WPA, Guardian Health, BCWA, Standard Life Healthcare and then First Assist before leaving the PMI industry briefly in 2008. Following redundancy in 2010 I set up on my own with Premier Choice and really haven’t looked back since.

Thanks Phil, you sound busy indeed… What are your specialties/areas of expertise?

I work in two main areas. Having looked after IFA’s and other intermediaries for insurers for 15 years I now work with a number of introducers who pass me their clients for advice on medical insurance. Most of my small corporate business is via my introducers based around the UK.

I also own another business working in the marketing space for senior doctors. Over the years there has been cross fertilisation between the marketing business and my medical insurance practice so that now most of my personal business is with senior doctors and I have developed a number of strategies to really drill down to find the right kind of cover for senior clinicians taking into account their particular needs.

Product wise I look after individual and group medical insurance, cash plans, dental insurance and I also have a number of clients around the world too on the international medical insurance side of things as well.

An interesting collaboration of services there… Who can benefit most from your expertise?

Although my business is largely sourced as above I have a really large range of clients in terms of age and also occupation/business area. I find that there are some key segments where I can really help – small groups where the scheme hasn’t had a recent review, clients with existing personal cover, typically aged 45 plus who again may not have had a price/product review recently and anyone who has a plan direct with an insurer who won’t have had independent advice on the best plan for them.

More specifically I work closely with dozens of senior doctors and really seem able to interact with them effectively to put in place the right cover for their needs. For Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) clients I look to work with forward looking clients typically working in complex, technology driven areas. As technology is a real interest of mine I find engaging with this kind of client really easy. 

As our tech-led society changes, this is indeed a fascinating area… So thinking of the future give us the 3 most important tips for people looking for advice right now?

The three things I point out to clients are :

1. Get regular reviews of your plan (group or individual). PMI is a fast moving sector and things are often changing. Clients need to be kept abreast of these changes to ensure they continue to get value for money and are not over paying for their cover.

2. PMI is one of the most flexible forms of insurance. With modern modular plans it is possible to construct a bespoke level of price and premium that suits every client and pocket. PMI really is lower cost and more accessible than most individuals and companies think.

3. The landscape for Private Medical Insurance is changing as insurers consolidate, withdraw and enter the market. Products in this sector are increasingly complex and more flexible. With this in mind independent advice from experts is in my opinion becoming more important not less.

Superb, thanks Phil… Following on from this what is the key trend you see affecting clients over the next 12 months?

The insurance market is cyclical. There is always an insurer whose strategy is based on growing the market whilst others are making profitability their main focus. Because of this, clients can see large variations in their renewal premiums. Renewal increases can sometimes be a surprise to the client but, the good news is, we can work with the client to ensure they still have a policy which meets their needs and is affordable.

And finally… What do you think the health insurance industry will look like in 10 years time?

There has been historically a lack of innovation in the medical insurance market. I have worked in PMI since 1994 and many insurers are still marketing very similar products that I would have recognised back in the early 1990’s. I think that unless the statutory situation changes (i.e. insurance becomes a formal part of the UK state healthcare system) the product space won’t alter much other than superficial tweaks. The insurers will however continue to consolidate as will the intermediary sector.

The future I think lies in client support, transparency and technological innovation.