ProtectionMay 9 2013

Insurers prepared to go the extra mile

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ByRoger Edwards

This has been evident with the huge popularity of discount websites offering everything from three-course dinners to spa weekends. People want value for their money and by using these vouchers they are able to get the five-star experience for a fraction of the cost.

And now we could be entering a new phase of consumer behaviour. The horse burger scandal has forced people to question what they are eating and made them realise that cheap value meals are cheap for a reason. They are already being discarded in favour of good quality meat from the local butcher as consumers realise that cheapest is not always best. Frivolous purchases could be a thing of the past as people look for ways to spend their money wisely and, as priorities change, they may be more inclined to look at protection insurance.

Savvy spenders will always be looking for good value. While the main aim of a protection product is to protect people’s finances, it is unlikely that financial concerns will be the first thing a person will worry about if they have just been diagnosed with a serious condition. At the forefront of their minds will be much more immediate emotional and physical concerns. It is likely that very quickly they will be looking for answers to a long list of questions. How will I cope with the treatment? What is the prognosis and what are my chances of survival? Who will I talk to? Who will understand what I am going through? This is the time they will want to speak to someone who understands the condition and has time to listen to their concerns and fears.

Friends and family will undoubtedly provide an emotional crutch, but they probably will not have the medical knowledge or the experience to provide anything else. And it is a fact of life that while the National Health Service provides a good service, resources are pushed and patients may not find the advice or support they desperately need.

Some protection insurers, however, recognise that the need for emotional support is as great as the need for financial help. Some plans go further than providing money following the diagnosis of a critical illness. They also offer features that were designed to complement the financial benefits of insurance by offering emotional and practical support. These services can include bereavement counselling, complementary therapies and access to medical, career, legal and personal helplines. Several income protection products provide a rehabilitation service for their customers which aim to help get claimants back to work.