Govt appoints Zurich’s Hamilton as disability ambassador

The UK government has appointed Zurich’s Head of Market Operations, Peter Hamilton, to oversee the work of the disability and accessibility insurance sector.

Hamilton’s Voluntary Posting is one of 12 new appointments announced today (July 28) by the government’s Disability Department.

These ambassadors, who also oversee the private housing and banking sectors, will remain in office for a maximum of three years.

Hamilton will inherit his position from Johnny Timpson who previously served as the Disability Ambassador for the insurance and banking sectors in addition to his role as Head of Financial Resilience and Protection for Scottish Widows.

Hamilton has headed Zurich’s protection department for 15 years. Zurich claims to be the first UK insurer to release its disability pay gap data, which stood at 17.6 percent in December 2020.

“As an industry, we have to be willing to listen, continue to question outdated perceptions, acknowledge advances in some areas, but recognize that there is still a long way to go,” said Hamilton upon his appointment.

“We have to be perceived as transparent, fair and trustworthy, whereby our focus is on doing everything possible to support our customers and employees with disabilities in the best possible way.

“We are likely to see a post-pandemic ‘reset’ in so many parts of society and the insurance industry is a big part of it.”

Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson was named Minister for Disabled People, Health and Labor in 2019.

The ambassadors of his department aim to improve the experiences of disabled consumers and employees.

“The current ambassadors have helped the industry and government respond to the Covid-19 crisis and supported work to develop the national disability strategy,” said Tomlinson.

The strategy released today (July 28th) includes 100 accessible housing, transport and education commitments and £ 1.6 million in funding.

But disability rights activists have told the media that they were not consulted in developing the strategy. It is believed that three activists have been granted the right to conduct a judicial review.

Some insurers have started to expand the accessibility on the product page. Back in December, AIG decided to step back from the “conditional race” – a competition to see who could cover most conditions – and instead focused on expanding the definitions of its critical disease products.

Earlier this month it announced the same for its group protection arm. By grouping conditions into overarching categories, the insurer can incorporate more conditions into its scope of insurance.

According to the MSA Trust, around 3,300 people in the UK and Ireland are affected by conditions such as multiple system atrophy – a degenerative disease.

CI has traditionally not covered this condition. But by including the Degenerative Neurological Disorder category, AIG coverage gives credit to those affected by this condition.

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