Aviva aims to raise awareness of protection benefits

The protection director of Aviva is calling on the government and financial sector to make it a requirement for all consumers to have a discussion about protection at various key life stages, as well as making it a core part of the financial education curriculum.

Ms Colley has devised a six-step plan to boost take-up of protection products, arguing that opportunities to remind people of the need for protection are “still being missed”.

She said an official process should be put in place to provide first-time parents and separating couples with information about protection, and that mortgage advisers should be required to discuss this area when processing applications.

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She added: “Protection is a foundation skill in understanding finance and, as such, should be a key module in personal finance education. We believe financial protection should be prioritised in the lesson planning process. This is because of its importance when it comes to creating family units that are not financially vulnerable to external shocks.”

Ms Colley has also supported the introduction of auto-enrolment for protection in the workplace, a measure that has been strongly backed by fellow protection specialists such as Paul Avis, marketing director for Canada Life.

Mr Avis said it was his ambition to get auto-enrolment for income protection “on any party manifesto” before the next general election.

Jeffrey Mushens, technical director at the Tax Incentivised Savings Association, said the nudge approach to financial engagement was gaining currency in Westminster, but the Treasury had yet to reveal firmer plans in this area.

Adviser view

Michael Aldridge, sales director at Bath-based mortgage and protection adviser London & Country, said: “Aviva’s initiative is just what the industry needs. Lack of awareness of available products, what the state provides and the implications of sickness, serious illness and death are key reasons why more people do not take protection. Education at all levels is paramount if we are to turn the declining trend around.”

Aviva’s six-point plan for a better-protected Britain
1. First-time parents should be given information about protection when they have a child
2. Discussing protection should be compulsory as part of the mortgage sale process
3. The level of death benefit needs to be explained to all, so that everyone can make a decision about how it fits with their protection needs
4. Protection should be a required discussion point when a couple determines the details of their divorce or separation settlement
5. Protection is a foundation skill in understanding finance and, as such, should be a key module in personal finance education
6. Income protection could be offered through a workplace scheme