Standard Life Healthcare, the medical cover arm of Standard Life, has bought FirstAssist's private medical insurance business for an undisclosed fee.

The transaction is set to be completed in Q1 2006, subject to FSA and court approval. FirstAssist will continue to have responsibility for the business until completion, during which time service agreements will be in place to ensure continuity of service for all customers.

The sale of the FirstAssist PMI business includes the transfer of all its staff to Standard Life Healthcare, along with all current contracts and its Bournemouth premises.

Commenting on this announcement, Sandy Crombie, chief executive of Standard Life, said: This is a key acquisition for our healthcare business so that it can expand quickly and profitably. It is also an important acquisition for the Group as it will increase to 650,000 the number of customers covered by our healthcare products and strengthens the range of products we can offer to them.

Under a collaborative venture included in the terms of the deal, FirstAssist will provide a range of health-related services to Standard Life Healthcare to support its customer offering, while marketing Standard Life Healthcare’s PMI products as part of its health insurance portfolio. These initiatives are likely to be the first of several as the two firms look to grow their relationship further, with each set to gain further access to the other’s products and distribution channels.