Financial services failing LGBT community

Financial services failing LGBT community

Financial services is still not working for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community, the head of an insurance provider has claimed.

Steve Wardlaw, chairman of Emerald Life, said there were still glaring inequalities in financial services, particularly in the insurance sector.

He also called the inequalities against the LGBT community the "tip of the iceberg", with women and single parents also struggling against the machine of financial services.

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Mr Wardlaw commented: "The financial services sector is still not working for the LGBT community.

"We live in a diverse world - less than 18 per cent of the population defines itself as a traditional nuclear family (husband and wife with children). Financial services’ firms do not fully cater to the remaining 82 per cent."

He said this 82 per cent does not have access to products designed for their needs and lifestyles and are "not embraced in marketing or thought about in customer journeys or customer care".

According to Mr Wardlaw, this has resulted in 37 per cent of the LGBT community having no insurance compared with 25 per cent of the general population.

“At the start of LGBT history month, it’s important to highlight the inequalities that still exist for the LGBT community in the insurance sector", he said, adding: "But that is the tip of the iceberg.

"The financial services sector needs to address all areas of inequality including against women and single parents.” 

He highlighted figures from research carried out by Nationwide, which offers products tailored to the LGBT community. The research found: 

  • 68% of LGBT customers feel that their financial services provider is not taking serious steps to understand them.
  • 34% have experienced an uncomfortable situation with a financial services provider because of their sexuality.
  • Nearly one quarter of LGBT people would likely lie about their sexuality to a financial services provider in case a decision goes against them.

According to an Emerald Life study, 79 per cent of the UK’s LGBT population would change the way that insurance companies treat their community.

He claimed this lack of understanding and tailored products from providers has led to a lack of trust and engagement from the LGBT community and, as a result, more than 37 per cent do not have any form of insurance at all.

Chris Morgan, founder of Compass Independent, which specialises in unusual risks and clients with HIV, said there was a much better marketplace for the LGBT community now.

He said: “The best possible advice for LGBT people is to look for independent financial advice and to look for genuinely the best product in the market.

"The market was opened up in 2005 when discrimination by the insurance industy was ended, led by Compass Independent at the time, and LGBT people at that time were free to choose products from whichever

"Insurers have made huge gains in looking after the LGBT community. Prime examples are the ending of HIV testing on insurance contracts and accepting applications from same-sex couples; all the discriminatory practices of the past have been ended.”

Mr Morgan added that insurers have been focusing since 2009 to improve things for people living with HIV, so it would be beneficial to shop around or get independent financial advice from specialists.