Gender directive has ‘limited impact’ on advisers’ business

The gender directive had limited impact on advisers’ protection business with fewer than a third of adviser respondents stating the regulation made their customers review their protection needs, research from Zurich revealed.

The gender directive came into force on 21 December 2011 and meant insurers cannot charge different rates for men and women.

There has since been concern that gender neutral pricing will increase the cost of annuities for women and will directly affect any pension schemes which insure death benefits or secure benefits by buying annuities.

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However, 56 per cent of 500 advisers questioned by Zurich did not think their customers were even aware of the changes.

Asked whether or not they thought their customers (who were aware of the regulation) agreed with the principles of gender neutral pricing, 37 per cent said no.

Even though men were predicted to benefit from the changes (through cheaper cover) the vast majority of advisers said this has not driven additional business, according to Zurich.

It also seems that the gender split of advisers’ protection business has not changed as a result of the directive, with nearly two thirds of those surveyed still writing between 30 and 50 per cent of their business for women.

Richard Howells, UK intermediary sales director at Zurich, said: “In many ways this research is a good news story. Business levels haven’t been affected by the directive and it seems consumers whether male or female continue to seek advice to solve their protection needs.

“The challenge we all have is to push on from here and create a bigger protection market. There are still too many people who have no cover or very little cover and that leaves people very exposed.”