ProtectionApr 10 2013

A ‘simple’ solution for our industry

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ByPeter Le Beau

As most people know, my major interest in ‘simple products’ lie in whether this might be a way to popularise income protection, but I hope it can give a boost to the whole industry, too. Some will regard this as hopelessly naive and I accept that as a glass-half-full person my inclination is to find ways of making initiatives driven by government work.

I think the important words here are ‘driven by government’, because it is rare that we get the opportunity to work under any form of government sponsorship and to get face time with them is precious and important. There is a partly understandable mindset that emerges when people from the protection industry gather; it evokes memories of Millwall fans in the 1980s – “no one likes us, we don’t care.”

It is easy to paint a picture of an incredibly worthwhile industry that has been shunned by the public quite unjustly because the consumer media has taken a dislike to us.

This in turn makes it difficult to get the government to work with us, because on a regular basis it finds itself having to oversee a scandal involving the insurance industry.

There are two particular reasons for this. The first is that we have not got the sort of lobby and relationship with government that we should have. There needs to be an analysis of why that is but it also underlines why we need to seize any opportunities that come our way to work constructively with government.

The second is because the record of the industry as a whole is not very good. We can plead innocence because a lot of them did not involve protection. But even when you have a scandal like PPI, the insurers are complicit because they provided the cover even if they did not benefit from the obscene charging structure.

One of the interesting ideas to be generated following the G-day (gender directive) and other changes at the start of the year is that there will be greater efforts by advisers to make new sales because churning business is out of the question.

That is a sad commentary on us as an industry – that a large part of normal production came from people who already had policies switching insurers. So the big news is that we are going to try to sell protection to a lot of new people who do not have it.

Each day people die or become unable to work without any insurance cover in place. They might have been hard to reach or hard to persuade but we all know a lot of them were never approached in the first place.