ProtectionAug 11 2017

Protection industry faces technology 'challenge'

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ByEllie Duncan

New technology is an “ongoing challenge” for the protection industry, the head of product and propositions at British Friendly has claimed.

When asked whether the protection industry has adapted by introducing technological advancements to product ranges, Nick Telfer admitted: "I think it’s something we haven’t probably as an industry been great at."

“We need to be more mindful of what our potential customers expect from a company that’s trying to get them to buy something from them.

“We’re seeing more and more protection advisers or intermediaries looking at new ways of distributing,” he added.

He explained British Friendly, which is a mutual society, had already considered how to make the process easier for advisers through the introduction of online submissions and underwriting.

It has also developed a mutual benefits programme for all of its members, not just new or existing members, he stressed, and within that is starting to leverage more technology.

“For example, one of the key benefits we have within mutual benefits is a relationship with Square Health, who are a long established company providing medical screening service and other services to insurers, and they’ve developed a customer-facing proposition which we’ve embedded using a unique app they’ve developed,” he explained.

“That allows our members using this app to get a virtual GP appointment, to get a medical second opinion, or arrange physiotherapy or counselling.”

Mr Telfer joined British Friendly last year from Vitality in the newly created role and was tasked with overseeing product development, member benefits and proposition strategy.

He said the mutual society had increased the options available on its products to make it easier for advisers to tailor a product to a particular client’s needs.

One of the benefits it added earlier this year was a new bereavement benefit.

Mr Telfer acknowledged advisers had always seen protection “as the foundation of all financial planning” but added it wasn’t always easy for advisers and their clients to get the product.

“It’s a negative purchase really, protection, because the only way most people benefit is when something goes wrong.

“It’s not a particularly easy product to sell and get people to buy into but I think the ongoing changes and restrictions coming into the welfare state are going to make it much more important. I think more and more advisers are going to start refocusing on protection,” he suggested.