Life companies need to polish up their act: Katz

The principal for Norwest Consultants, a sole trading firm in Middlesex, said there was such a wide gap between perception and reality about what protection policies do, mostly because life companies are “not trusted”.

He said: “The life companies, as a result of past and sometimes current behaviours are just not trusted by the public.

“Moreover, nobody will separate the nefarious activities of a bad provider from a good one. Nor will they be able to distinguish between a motor accident claim from a life policy.

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“The life offices only have themselves to blame - if they had stuck to their knitting and not tried to be all things to all men perhaps they might have been looked upon more favourably.”

Phil Jeynes, head of account development at PruProtect, said he partly agreed that insurers had not helped themselves, but this was mostly because “we have not been good enough about telling our good news stories.

“It is only now that all major insurers disclose their paid claims percentages, which are excellent, and getting case studies into the media to show how useful our plans can be.”

Mr Jeynes agreed that customers will never separate providers by their distinct product type, saying: “PPI has tarnished the industry somewhat, but the power is in our hands to show that by and large we are honest companies doing a good job”.

He said that insurers should use their marketing budgets to spread the message about protection cover being vital and reliable, adding: “We’ve just embarked on a national print, online and outdoor campaign to do just that.”

The comments came a few days after independent consultant Ned Cazalet unveiled a 625-page Life and Pensions 2014 report, in which he said larger life providers will spend “whatever it takes” to ensure they do not lose business to rivals.