In Focus: Protecting your client  

Protection advice too focused on bread winners, campaigners say

Protection advice too focused on bread winners, campaigners say
It can be hard for women to get the right cover if they are not the main earners, according to WIP

Protection advisers should ensure they do not focus solely on the main earner in a family when drawing up cover, the Women in Protection executive committee has said. 

Emma Thomson, Shelli Bentley, Catherine Trimble and Georgia d’Esterre said it can be hard for women to get the right cover in place because they are often not considered the bread winner and as such are somewhat left behind when it comes to protection planning.

They said: “Whilst there are challenges for most consumers when it comes to understanding and accessing protection cover, it can be often harder for women to get the right cover in place. 

“In heterosexual relationships for example, women are still typically less likely to be the main earner and consumers and indeed some advisers don’t always appreciate the risk to them and indeed their partner if they don’t have enough cover in place, instead prioritising the needs of ‘the breadwinner’.”

Research has shown that while women tend to take out a similar number of protection policies as men there can be significant differences in the level of cover they tend to take out.

D’Esterre said women were underserved in the protection market mainly due to accessibility and affordability issues. Though she added this was true for the wider population too.

She said the chances of women coming across protection in their daily lives were slim. 

“I have never seen an advert for critical illness cover in [any] female orientated magazine title. You don’t go to the cinema and see adverts for income protection, or see some digital display ads featuring family income benefit in your local gym or John Lewis. 

“At best you may see some abstract Insta or Tik Tok post on your socials, but this won’t really give a female customer much information and it also may not be accurate.”

A savvier female consumer may search for protection-based products on the internet, but she said that in itself was a “humungous can of worms which you’ll quickly want to put the lid back on once you get your search results back.” 

D’Esterre said when she googled ‘Protection Products Insurance’ one day she got back “about 4.510bn results”.

“Can you imagine as an average consumer who has no knowledge of financial services trying to make head or tail of that?”

She said the industry was then relying on women to look for financial advice, which again could seem too onerous for some.

“The industry doesn’t make it straightforward, and for women who are the primary carers, as well as the primary earner or working, who have the mental load of running a household, and all the associated tasks and planning that comes with these things, they simply do not have the bandwidth to be able to spend the time they need and want to research how to get advice on protection products, let alone start the actual process of getting cover in place.”