Postcode can bump up health rate

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The Independent Online
AN ACCOUNTANT from Accrington could pay less for private health insurance than a plumber from Plumstead, according to new criteria being used to calculate premiums by Bupa, the largest health insurer.

Bupa has replaced the published rate tables for small company schemes. Quotes will be now be tailor-made for each firm, and industry sector and postcode will be taken into account when deciding rates for new members, writes Sue Fieldman.

A spokesman for Bupa said: 'Different industries do exhibit a different claiming pattern. There are some industries that claim more and some claim less.'

The spokesman would not divulge which professions were the big claimers. And even if there had been a glut of appendectomies among accountants, was it fair to label all accountants as claims-mad and load the premiums accordingly?

The Bupa spokesman said: 'We do take a lot of different factors into account. It is quite complex.'

Bupa will assess the impact of the new criteria on company schemes with a view to using them to work out premiums for individuals, who are not currently rated by postcode or occupation.

PPP, the second largest insurer, does not use industry sector or postcode in determining rates for companies or individuals, while WPA, the third largest provider of cover, uses postcodes to assess premium rates, but has rejected the idea of using industry sectors.

Julian Stainton, WPA's managing director, said: 'A foundry worker may theoretically be more likely to claim than someone sitting at a desk all day, but we have not found any evidence to support this. And the past is not necessarily a guide to the future. Just because you have had a run of claims from one occupation does not mean it will continue.'