Journey to “The Bridge”: Evolution of insurance for therapists

It was one of those times in life… a crossroads kind of time. I knew that I had to make a decision about earning a living in the future! I was a musician, aged 21, and was still recovering from a trek overland to India and Nepal which happened when I was 19. I met many people on the road, from drug addicts, to musicians, seekers Vietnam War draft dodgers and became exposed to other ways of living and thinking. The Beatles were in Rishikesh writing the White Album and exploring Indian Mysticism. I and my friends were living a timeless life and exploring other things! Whilst for many “the road” became the main reality- travelling and being outside conventional society was the norm, for myself and my co traveller Armand, we were mainly there to explore Indian Classical music and we studied it a bit. The experience lasted 11 months and whilst it was formative and life changing, it was also Life threatening! The experience helped me to break out of my suburban-induced sleepwalk, but it also saw me getting ill with a number of various ailments, culminating in infective hepatitis which brought me close to death’s door.
 
One of the positive things about the experience was that I began to take more of an interest in health matters and diet, and met people on the road from the West Coast of USA, where some of the new (some would say old) ideas such as Macrobiotics, Self Help and Meditation were beginning to get popular. I found that eating more consciously and changing to a vegetarian diet helped me feel better in myself, and also fitted in with my changing world view. Meditation and Philosophy gave me a new direction in and purpose in Life, When I got back to the UK, I carried on living this way, much to the chagrin of my parents. Two cooks in one kitchen with two different philosophies was a certain recipe for friction!
 
On return to the UK in 1969, I pursued my path as a musician, which led me to meet many different people, brought me into the sphere of healing and eventually into training to be a Yoga Teacher. At this time it became clear that I needed a career change. My lifestyle was on the outer fringe of society, and I decided to opt in to society! Firstly I decided to try and enrol to learn Naturopathy and Osteopathy in view of my intense interest in Health Matters. I was told to come back once I had got O and A level Science subjects ( I had run away from School previously and a promising academic career blurred in the flower power days of the mid 60s! so I pursued no further and I decided for various reasons (some even philosophical) to join the family insurance business! And this, as they say, is where the story really begins!
 
In 1977 I had a serious accident which was not treated properly by the Medical Profession, resulting in wounds that did not heal for some 7yrs. A number of my contacts and friends during that period were practitioners of different types of Complementary Medicine. A well respected colleague contacted me one day and said that he was perceived there was a need for a policy to protect the therapist for all of their modalities, rather than an inflexible block policy which only covered one particular therapy or approach. At that time Complementary Medicine was still very fringe, and the underwriters – although very polite – were not overly enthusiastic. Some cheap but limited forms of cover were already available, but only for certain approved organisations. The idea sat on the back burner until I was approached again, this time by the eminent pioneering Consultant Physician Alec Forbes and some other colleagues who involved in an organisation called New Approaches to Cancer. They were looking for a Private Medical insurance to include treatments at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre. Although the scheme did not get off the ground (the market was not ready for it), it eventually led to me getting the Professional Indemnity Scheme organised and after much negotiation a Private Complementary & Mainstream Medical Insurance Scheme (through PPP Medical care) which was launched in 1991 at the Olympia Health Show.
 
All this was happening at a time when the movement was gathering momentum and practitioners were trying to become more organised and professional. Image was beginning to be more important as the movement was much more in the Public Eye, and quality Insurance protection in an ever more litigious climate was beginning to become an important issue.
 
Our first schemes were named “Bridge” and used the Bridge logo you see above– the symbol for me, was, and still is, about bringing the mainstream and the non-conventional together. Being a quality link also between the hard to understand world of Insurance Protection, and the idealistic and intense world of the Therapist or Health Professional. Our mission was to provide quality advice and wide ranging protection to Health Professionals and their organisations, especially those in Complementary Medicine, and to literally “care for the carers”.   We are known for Demystifying the jargon of insurance, and educating rather than selling. Always to trying to improve what we do, our new policies strengthen the image and professionalism of therapists as well as protecting them more effectively. The underpin was always one of service, with ethics and philosophy, not profit, being the main underlying driver. Possibly unique for the Insurance Industry, but there you are- eccentric but totally professional! We have been very successful and are the largest independent Broker in this speciality in the UK and Ireland.
 
Our Stained Glass symbol which you see on our literature was based on an image for our business that I intuitively received, and this was expertly translated in to a physical image by the genius of Rod Friend, very talented stained glass artist, who since has moved from the Uk to Alhozaina near Coin some years back. He has recently created a new glass for our European initiative. (Show picture of both images for this article).
 
Insurance is a key indicator as to the attitudes and choices made by a professional association or individual therapist – and a key protector – that is becoming even more important than it was in those early days, in the UK when there was more goodwill and possibly less hype about complementary medicine. I sense that the situation has been similar here in Spain for a long while, but I do sense that things are now changing now as they did in the Uk all those years ago. My feelings on this were confirmed recently, when “no win no fee” legal actions were sanctioned by the Spanish Government. This can only increase the frequency and cost of claims over here.
 
With increased support from the public, there will be a greater challenge from orthodoxy against CAM, a need for greater professionalism, and a more grounded attitude to Insurance. We are very pleased to be offering our tried and trusted Insurance advice, to protect Health Businesses and Individual professionals in this changing climate.

INFO:
Call 0044 1684 580 781
www.balens.co.uk/spain

 
** for an objective view of the “Hippy Trail” to India in the 60s, “the Magic Bus” by Rory Mclain is a great introduction, sympathetically written.

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