Consumers must grasp protection need: conference

Consumers must grasp protection need: conference

Protection specialists have used an industry event to warn that issues such as consumer apathy and poor service levels need to be addressed to grow the market.

Speakers at a Protection Review event in London claimed issues which had long dogged the market would need to be resolved.

Tom Baigrie, chief executive of LifeSearch, told the audience that while technological innovations – such as the ability to carry out underwriting linked to an individual’s Facebook account – may be useful, it was more important to persuade consumers they needed protection in the first place.

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He said: “What I am prescribing as the best way of growing our market, your career and your business is to get more people to think more often of protecting their families, and to help them turn that fleeting impulse of being financially sensible into a protection bullseye.”

The protection gap
In 2012 Swiss Re estimated a life assurance protection gap of some £2.4trn in the UK
Swiss Re UK’s chief executive Russell Higginbotham said at the time: “Under-insurance in both the life insurance and income protection areas is proving to be a long-term problem in the UK”

The event saw familiar industry issues, such as the idea of a protection gap, or shortfall in necessary protection, come to the fore.

Chris Lerpiniere, an executive director at Reliance Mutual, said the industry needed to focus on gaining consumer trust.

Meanwhile David Buckingham, of SunLife, cited statistics showing that while 47 per cent of pet owners bought pet insurance, only 45 per cent of people bought life insurance, and claimed people needed encouragement to buy protection.

He said: “There are lots of customers who have ‘buy life insurance’ on their to-do list. We can help engage that customer and give them that nudge.”

Other speakers focused on service.

Phil Jeynes, head of sales and marketing for UnderwriteMe, said complicated processes could be putting customers off buying protection and even discouraging some advisers from selling more of it.

Steve Bryan, Legal & General’s director for intermediary, said: “We have to eliminate delays and make the process quicker.

“We need to reach generation smartphone – they want instant results.”

Adviser view

Jeremy Edwards, associate partner for Leicestershire-based Martin-Redman Partners, said: “People seem to have this idea that the welfare state will pick up the bits for them if they lose their income, and that needs to change.”