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Normal in the new not-normal

All underwriting involves balancing a range of factors, but income protection underwriting is at least an order of magnitude harder to get right compared to life cover. Mental health, financial underwriting, and moral hazard play a much greater part. So many insurers are adopting a wait and see approach to the product until it is possible to assess the full impact on the economy of the control measures deployed against COVID-19. But now is not a normal time - as this announcement from Asteron Life illustrates, and I think underlines the point not just for them, but also for other insurers: 

An update on underwriting

With many clients facing uncertainty around the future of their businesses and jobs, Asteron Life will continue to consider requests for Disability Income cover on their individual merits at time of application.

To remain consistent with our usual underwriting process, applicants who are currently working at full capacity in their usual hours and duties can still be considered for Disability Income cover. Applicants who are not currently working will have their Disability Income cover assessment deferred until they return to work in their usual capacity. If you’re unsure as to whether or not a client is eligible for Disability Income cover, please contact your aligned underwriter or BDM for guidance before submitting an application.

As one adviser put it to me recently, maybe you don't need to have a lot of new rules, maybe you just need to underwrite. The point here though is that very few people right now are working at full capacity in the usual hours and duties. Essential workers are, mostly. I am, and many knowledge workers in the financial sector will be, albeit from home. Just that change in location will affect the approach of some underwriters. But most of the workforce aren't. That cannot be ignored. If you aren't working in your normal hours, or your normal duties, and you aren't receiving your normal pay, and your business (or sector, or employer) doesn't have its normal future, you can't really expect to get normal IP terms. So underwriting in the time of COVID-19 is difficult and as I pointed out in my post below, income protection may never be the same again

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