Royal & SunAlliance Healthcare & Assistance is targeting intermediaries and ecommerce for its push into the private medical insurance market after ditching its 69-strong tied agent channel.

The insurer has doubled its PMI book to £120m in the last 18 months, mainly through selling corporate PMI to small and medium-sized inter-mediaries.

It now expects to increase the book by a minimum of 20% in the next year, as it concentrates on both the intermediary channel and ecommerce.

RSA H&A sales director, Andrew Williams, said: “Much of our growth in this sector has been achieved through launching new products in the last years which have proved attractive to our 400 intermediary partners.

“The advent of ecommerce gives us a new distribution channel to boost sales.

“But in the short term, we expect our growth to keep coming through intermediaries, which already account for 60% of our sales.”

He added that the ecommerce channel would be a mixture of both online promotion and telephone advice because of the nature of the product.

The 69 self-employed tied agents contributed £2.5m to the health insurer's book value.

All customers that previously dealt with self-employed sales agents will receive a letter advising them of the change.

A freephone helpline number is also being made available to deal with any questions that they
may have.

The health insurer expects the market generally to continue to expand because of consumer anxiety over the state of the National Health Service.

Williams points out that the government's recent spending boost for the NHS will still leave the service short of the spending targets of France and Germany, 5% compared to about 8-9% of GDP.