Jeff Prestridge  

Keep clear on insurance

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

A few days ago, I asked Mr Lakey and London and Country’s head of protection Lucy Brown to give me their thoughts on how financial protection insurance could be made more appealing to consumers.

Apart from better explanations from providers on why some claims are rejected, and of course industry-wide publication of claims statistics, they came up with some interesting thoughts.

Mr Lakey would love to see tax relief given on the premiums policyholders pay, thereby making cover more affordable.

In return, he said, the proceeds from pay-outs could then be taxed. “This would incentivise people to take out this valuable cover,” he said. “It would also reduce reliance on the next to useless universal credit and ultimately save the government money.”

An imaginative and bold idea – which sadly means it stands little chance of meeting approval with politicians, irrespective of particular political persuasion.

He would also like to see greater financial education surrounding the merits of particular types of protection insurance.

He said: “Most people buy life insurance when their risk of dying is low.

“As a result, the premiums are cheap and appealing.

“By contrast, being off work long-term or suffering from a serious illness is statistically far more likely, yet people don’t buy critical illness cover or income replacement because it looks expensive.”

Again, I am with Mr Lakey on this.

Ms Brown would like to see a move towards guaranteed premiums.

Nothing, she said, “shakes customer confidence more than being told a quoted price has suddenly increased. Or that a product isn’t available to them as a result of their health or occupation”. Absolutely.

She would also like to see more insurers reward good health as customers embrace healthier lifestyles – the strategy adopted by VitalityLife.

All food for financial protection insurance thought as we hurtle towards summer.

Jeff Prestridge is personal finance editor of the Mail on Sunday