Simplyhealth's acquisition of Groupama receives frosty reception
David Woods, August 04, 2011
Healthcare provider Simplyhealth has reached agreement to purchase the UK healthcare business of Groupama Insurances, subject to the required regulatory approvals.
Groupama Healthcare will be rebranded to Simplyhealth following completion of the necessary legal business transfer. It is anticipated that this will take between three to six months.
Des Benjamin CEO at Simplyhealth said: "For the past 10 years, Simplyhealth has been looking to add more value and choice to customers through growing a diverse range of products and services. An essential element of this strategy has been achieved through mergers and acquisitions with health providers that share similar values to us.
"By acquiring Groupama Healthcare, we have the opportunity to build greater presence in the small to medium business sector and grow market share."
François-Xavier Boisseau, CEO at Groupama Insurances, added: "Over the last five years Groupama Healthcare has made significant progress in building an award winning private medical insurance business that delivers market leading customer service and enjoys the support and respect of brokers and insurers alike. However, despite our best efforts we have been unable to achieve the critical mass required to ensure that our business consistently delivers the levels of profitability necessary to ensure its long term success.
"We concluded that it would be beneficial to identify a new owner with the scale and resources necessary to offer the support required to build on the progress we have made. Simplyhealth shares our mutual values and our strong focus on the customer. We believe that they will provide an excellent new home for our policyholders and for the people at Groupama Healthcare. Our future focus will be on developing our growing general insurance business where we continue to see significant potential for profitable growth"
But the reaction to the acquisition - at least in the PMI sector - has been frosty.
Commenting on the consolidation, Andrew Tripp, chairman of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries said: "Our initial reaction is extreme disappointment that a quality provider with a focus of claims transparency, and exceptional service may disappear with all its values and principles. We can only hope that Simplyhealth incorporates what is good within their proposition.
"That said, while at first glance consolidation appears to reduce choice and, by association, the need for independent advice, in reality the opposite is often true. Quite often the larger consolidated business finds itself in a position where it has to offer a greater range of policy options to satisfy its existing customers and the newly acquired customers.
"AMII's experience from previous acquisitions in the PMI sector is that the bringing together of two insurer's product ranges often results in all customers experiencing changes to their contracts within a year or two, either in terms of benefits or policy conditions.
"Having access to independent advice from a specialist healthcare intermediary can help guide customers through these changes, ensuring they understand the implications for their cover resulting from minor amendments to benefits, policy wordings, claims processes or pricing decisions. More importantly, a specialist healthcare intermediary will help customers choose the right benefit options to ensure they continue to have they cover they require."