Giving clients the cover they need, even quicker

2 February 2021
Our new Underwrite Later option on our business protection plans puts your client’s cover fully on risk without any additional exclusions added as standard and provides them with peace of mind their business is protected immediately without any delays.

Over the past year, the protection industry has had to change at lightning speed and take on a more digital approach. 

From an underwriting perspective, I think I’ve seen more changes in the last nine months than we’ve ever seen before - some being achieved within hours or days!  And while this has been a bit more restrictive in some areas for advisers and customers, it’s enabled us to continue providing access to full protection cover for the vast majority.

That said, we’ve suffered delays in collecting medical evidence as we’ve endeavoured to put the needs of the NHS ahead of the protection industry's own. Carrying out virtual medicals and utilising more of the information provided by customers are just some of the ways providers have adapted. 

This need to adapt has made us consider an alternative approach to traditional underwriting, one that’ll help us to provide some clients with cover immediately while continuing the underwriting process in the background.

Why did we think it was the right time to develop this option?

An ongoing activity for any protection provider is finding innovative ways to improve the end to end experience advisers and customers go through when they start a protection journey.  This is especially key for business protection and Relevant Life Plans (RLP) where clients tend to have more medical disclosures and higher sums insured. They therefore have a greater need for medical evidence.  At the height of the pandemic, both GP reports and face to face medical examinations were difficult to obtain which led to the slowdown of protection cover going on risk.  

What are the benefits of Underwrite Later?

There are several benefits for both advisers and clients:

  • Up to 93% of business and RLP life cover application could start immediately – up from 49% of application that currently start immediately after initial assessment.
  • Full cover with no additional exclusions added as standard.
  • Relief from uncertainty over the availability of face to face medicals and the extended timescales to obtain GP reports.
  • Clients stay engaged – thereby reducing the adviser’s risk that their client loses interest during a lengthy underwriting process and decides not to proceed.
  • Up to £3.5million cover for each person under a Business Menu or Relevant Life Plan.

How do I access Underwrite Later?

It’s really easy as it’s part of the online application – you just tick the box when the option is presented.  When we receive the application (and the box is ticked) we’ll assess if we can offer cover immediately and then tell the adviser the good news. We can then start the plan with full cover, and start collecting the premiums.

In the background we’ll do all the normal underwriting requirements, including collecting GP reports and arranging medicals.  To confirm the initial decision we made was the right one we’ll need all the correct information provided up front on the application form.  Any underwriting evidence we receive then just reinforces our decision, giving the adviser confidence and their client peace of mind.

In most cases we expect to confirm the terms we started the cover on.  In a small number of cases we may have to change the terms of the plan, or in some circumstances, cancel it.  This could be due to the original application being either inaccurate or incomplete.

If any of the plans on the application are to be placed under a business trust or relevant life trust, we’d recommend completing one of our online, signature free trusts. These can be set up as part of the online application and should be in place before the plan starts to avoid a potential Capital Gains Tax (CGT) liability.

How does this compare with our Free Cover option?

The Underwrite Later and Free Cover options will each appeal to different clients and their individual circumstances.  Here’s a quick summary of the key differences between these two benefits:


Free Cover

Cover Now, Underwrite Later

Maximum sum assured



Maximum age


Same as cover applied for

Cover period

three months

Underwriting complete within six months

Ongoing duty of disclosure



Standard exclusions





Yes, start immediately

Looking further ahead

The pandemic has certainly thrown us some challenges and it’s great to see how the industry has pulled together to adapt.  We hope our efforts will give advisers greater confidence when recommending protection cover, and more importantly give their clients the peace of mind that they have the cover they need, even quicker.  If Underwrite Later is a success, then we can perhaps consider expanding it out to other covers, such as whole of life and personal protection.  That would be a real step change for the market!

More information on Underwrite Later 



About the author

Jennifer Gilchrist

Proposition Specialist

Jennifer Gilchrist is Proposition Specialist for Royal London’s intermediary protection business. Having worked in the industry for over 30 years, she has a wealth of experience in marketing and developing protection products and is a frequent press commentator. Jennifer’s had many articles and comment pieces published in the trade press. Outside work, you’ll often find her pounding the Edinburgh streets at 6am on a misty morning. She’s also an avid tennis fan but that extends to watching rather than playing!

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The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.