Protection providers and advisers need to scrutinise their practices in 2017 to remain relevant to an ageing population, according to Scottish Widows.
Johnny Timpson, protection specialist at the life company, said simpler life, income protection and critical illness products should be a priority to build on this year’s public engagement successes.
He said: “We also need to start taking a hard look at the current design of the advice process and product solutions to ensure that they meet the needs of our ageing population who are working and borrowing into later life.
“The growing number of people who have a portfolio of jobs and practice agile working are making annual reviews, flexibility and portability increasingly important.”
Definitions and menu plans – which give key product details and costs – must be designed to make things easier for consumers, along with much better use of language when discussing protection, Mr Timpson said.
“The term ‘income protection’, for example, is often seen as too ambiguous and is mistaken for the much-maligned ‘payment protection insurance’,” he said.
Mr Timpson called 2016’s cross-sector collaboration “unprecedented”, from the well-publicised Seven Families campaign to government initiatives.
These included the Income Protection Task Force and Chartered Insurance Institute coming together to produce their ‘Building Resilient Households’ report.
Mr Timpson said this report was “instrumental” in having protection feature in the joint Department for Work & Pensions and Department of Health ‘Improving Lives’ green paper.
“These initiatives are seeking active collaboration with the full range of stakeholders to bring about a system that best serves public interest, and which enables the state welfare system and private provision to complement each other,” Mr Timpson said.
It is now over a year since Scottish Widows re-entered the intermediary protection market.
Mr Timpson said the company has “learned a lot”, and that in 2017 its key priority is to work collaboratively with advisers.
“We’ll also keep looking at how we can improve the customer experience,” Mr Timpson said.
He pointed to Scottish Widows recent introduction of electronic General Practitioner reports into its underwriting process.
“[This makes] it simpler and quicker to obtain customers’ medical information from their GP practice,” he said.
“We will continue to seek other opportunities for digital capability so that we can speed up the journey for advisers and clients, and so that terms can be offered to clients more quickly.”