Royal London on Underwriting and Disclosure

Wed Mar 28 2018

In the 2017 Brokers Ireland Excellence Awards, Royal London topped the polls for the speed of its new business underwriting and its rationality of underwriting decisions and queries. These positive results contributed to the company’s award of 1st place for Service Excellence and supported its commitment to provide support and guidance to you and your clients at every step of the underwriting process.

As you know, underwriting is the term used to describe the process of assessing risk, and ensuring that the cost of the cover is proportionate to the risks presented by the individual concerned. Colette Houton, Underwriting and Claims Lead at protection specialist Royal London explained:

“Royal London is committed to offering a valuable service to brokers and customers and having an underwriting philosophy that is reasonable and efficient is a part of that commitment. Last year we took some positive steps in this regard with changes made to our non-medical limits and the introduction of a dedicated service for large sum assured cases. These improvements are part of an ongoing review of our underwriting philosophy and I look forward to sharing more developments with you throughout the year.

“As part of this service delivery, we are working with brokers to address some of the misconceptions surrounding the life insurance industry. For example, often we find that clients have concerns around securing their insurance coverage. Despite this, most get cover and of the four types of underwriting decisions; standard rates, revised terms, postponed and declined, standard rates are the most common. For example the majority, 88%, of lives receive ordinary rates from Royal London.”

Disclosures Insights

Speaking about disclosure Colette said: “From an underwriting perspective its worthwhile dwelling on the reasons behind why individuals might non-disclose. Despite insurance providers and Financial Brokers doing their utmost and explaining the importance of providing all the material facts, human behaviour is complicated and not always rational so non-disclosure can still happen for a variety of reasons. For example, a customer could be embarrassed about their medical history or naive as to the implications that non-disclosing can have at claims stage.”

There are also some commonly held misconceptions which can potentially influence behaviour and lead individuals to not disclose fully on their application. Some common misbeliefs which can be dispelled are:

  • ‘I won’t get cover if I disclose’ – The vast majority of lives will get cover, 88% of lives receive ordinary rates from Royal London.
  • Insurance companies won’t pay the claim anyway’ – In fact, 99% of life claims and 92% of Specified Serious Illness claims were paid out by Royal London in 2016.

Colette commented: “Royal London is a mutual company and as such, we are focused on paying claims. The only reasons why claims are not paid is due to non-disclosure or fraud. Good disclosure from the outset means that the claim is more likely to be paid, while reducing the need for extensive evidence at claims stage.”

Colette concluded: “We want to make it as easy as possible for you to do business with Royal London and welcome working closely with you to help ensure good disclosure. For example, if for whatever reason, you are unsure that your client has fully disclosed on an application, let me or any member of the underwriting team know and we can get independent medical evidence to help assess your query. Openly discussing and dispelling misconceptions around disclosure can help too, and if you would like any additional information on this, please do get in touch.”

Royal London has a new CPD accredited webcast on the topic of ‘An Introduction to Underwriting’ presented by Colette Houton in the ‘Ideazone’ section of Royal London’s Broker Centre. Visit

If you have any questions or queries around underwriting feel free to email Colette at

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