Advisers need to focus on the need for the insurance, and the consequences of not having it, before any discussion of the products can be brought into the conversation.
This is the view of Chris McNab, protection product manager for LV, who comments: "The benefit of critical illness cover (CIC) is that when advisers get to the point of a conversation in which they suggest the product as a solution to their client's needs, advisers can usually align the product clearly to each individual.
"For example, the client may be concerned about a particular type of illness because they know people affected by it, in which case advisers can focus on how the product provides cover for that."
He also suggests advisers might like to ensure the client's children are covered, in which case they could focus on children's cover, which is automatically included in the majority of CIC products.
According to Chris Atkinson, head of innovation for Zurich UK Life, the conversation is about "the reality of life and what can help us deal with life's blows".
He comments: "It's often more important to set the correct tone of conversation rather than worrying about the technicalities."
Tools to use
Most providers offer some form of calculators or online tools to help advisers engage their clients in conversation about protection.
For example, LV provides a risk reality calculator, which advisers can use to help identify the likelihood of something happening to the client before they plan to retire.
According to Mr McNab: "This sort of tool can be useful in starting the conversation around providing protection against illnesses or medical conditions."
According to Mr McNab and Peter Le Beau, founder of Le Beau Visage, some key questions to get the protection conversation started can include:
- How would you cope financially if you could never work again?
- What would you do if you could not work for a prolonged period of time?
- How would you pay for adapting your family home if you had to make them as a result of an illness or medical condition?
- What would happen to your finances if you became seriously ill?
- What does your employer give you in terms of sick pay?
"People rarely factor ill-health into their financial planning", according to Mr Le Beau.
When to bring this up in the client-adviser relationship is "early", according to Phil Jeynes, head of sales and marketing for UnderwriteMe.
He comments: "Most clients don't come to an adviser for protection cover - they're after a mortgage, or investment advice.
"If the topic of CIC comes up at the very end of the conversation, if they have already got what they came for, then protection advice is at risk of being consider to be an optional extra or an up-sell.
"The best sellers of CIC introduce it at the outset, pointing out that protection is a foundation upon which a broader financial strategy can be built."
Ultimately, according to Alan Lakey, adviser for Highclere Financial Services and founder of the CI Expert, protection purchases are "emotional".
He explains: "It will depend on each client and an adviser will make a judgement call, taking various factors into account, such as gender, whether the client has children and what is the client's budget.