Like many people these days, you have probably found yourself shopping online for insurance at some time or another. While the process varies depending on precisely what sort of coverage you are looking for, in most cases it will include the completion of a simple questionnaire in order to collect basic details about your health and lifestyle (a great example is Beat the Bank’s quote generator, which you should use to get a mortgage protection quote now if you haven’t already).
The questions asked are usually fairly straight forward and designed to get at the heart of your personal risk level for the insurer. For a lot of people, the boilerplate list of questions is sufficient to produce a quote and proceed with a transaction. However, if one of your answers happens to indicate an increased level of risk, the insurer may request a Private Medical Attendant report (or PMA report) in order to get an expert opinion on your overall health and insurability.
The first thing to say about this is that it is fairly common, so if the insurance company is requesting that you provide a PMA, don’t immediately assume something is wrong or that your premium will be through the roof. This report simply gives the insurer a look at your medical history and a glimpse into your overall health. Submitting PMAs is a very normal practice for GPs, even to the point that there is a standard cost associated with completing the paperwork (more on that in a moment).
That being said, the request for a PMAR does complicate your timeline and may drag out the process a bit longer than you were hoping. It’s important to act quickly to get it started and make sure you are following up with your GP regularly so it remains a priority. Don’t have your own GP at the moment? The insurance company should be able to refer you to someone, or in some cases they may propose that you attend a medical exam conducted by a nurse as an alternative.
If you’re beginning to wonder what all this is going to cost, don’t worry- your policy is valuable to the insurer and they will pick up the bill for the report as well as any exams. The standard price paid to a GP in Ireland for a PMA is currently €130. However, similar to the potential pitfalls around scheduling, you need to take an active role in confirming with your GP that payment came through from the insurer. It’s uncommon, but there have been squabbles with GPs over payments (with some applicants learning that the two parties couldn’t agree on a price) resulting in weeks lost in the overall process.
The PMA should only take a few days at the most if everything goes as planned. Once it is in the possession of the insurance company, it will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer and you should receive receive one of the following outcomes:
1) Accepted at standard rates – Congratulations, you are average risk and will receive normal pricing
2) Accepted on special terms – You have been determined to be an increased risk, and will have above-average premiums
3) Application Postponed – The insurer will send your GP a letter with reasons the application is being held, and you will have the opportunity (with your doctor) to submit additional information at a set date in the future.
4) Application Declined – The insurer is refusing to provide you with cover due to your medical history
If you find yourself in that last camp with a declined application, be sure to follow up with your GP who will have been sent a letter with the details that informed that decision. Make your health and the management of any existing conditions your top priority. In some rare cases, your GP can submit additional information that may affect the insurer’s decision to decline your application, but remember that these companies have mountains of statistical data on which they base these decisions. The likelihood of reversing this outcome is low. As you continue to pursue coverage, you are free to submit applications with other insurers, and Beat the Bank can help you with this, but there are no guarantees that the outcome will be different.
To summarize, here are a few things to keep in mind about the PMA Report should one be requested of you:
• Don’t panic; this is a common practice
• Contact your GP and stay involved as they work through the paperwork
• If you don’t have a GP, the insurer can help you find a clinician that can prepare the report
• Confirm payment by the insurer with your GP to make sure nothing went wrong
• If your application is postponed or declined, follow up with your GP to discuss the details and determine if a response is appropriate
Final important piece of information of to apply early! PMAs can take time so you always want to be ahead of the crowd and get accepted as soon as possible.
Good luck, and remember if you have questions Beat the Bank is available 24/7 to help you navigate this process.
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