Social media could help the insurance industry connect with younger consumers who are proving difficult for insurers to engaged with, according to Lifesearch chief executive Tom Baigrie.
Mr Baigrie told FTAdviser technology such as Zurich’s selfie app could be a way of connecting with so-called ‘generation rent’ – younger consumers who are renting until later in life, many of them priced out of homeownership in the short term.
The mortgage process is a key sales point for protection products, as consumers need to consider how they could meet their mortgage repayments in the event of death or a period of time in which they were unable to work.
But with many people postponing buying a house indefinitely, Mr Baigrie said the age profile of the people Lifesearch deals with was rising.
He said: “Generation rent really does not get it. There are products being delivered for renters, and that is great. If they are there, we will be marketing them.
“I don’t think more than a third of people who take out a mortgage get protection. It is improving because brokers are now going for it. There is a point where, financially, that brings protection to the consumer’s mind.
“The problem with rent is that moment does not crystallise like that.”
Mr Baigrie said landlords and agents could play a role, but added they were not necessarily the most suitable people to be giving advice – and they already had plenty of responsibilities of their own.
“How do you engage people through a hand-held device? Selfie quotes are quite a cool way of doing that,” he explained.
Launched in November, Zurich’s FaceQuote tool uses a selfie to estimate a user’s age before calculating how much life cover would cost them on a monthly basis.
Recent research by the provider found that a quarter of people said they didn’t have life or critical illness cover because it was too expensive, while nearly a third (30 per cent) said they didn’t feel it was relevant.
Paul Reed, director and protection specialist at Cardiff-based advice firm Vita, back Mr Baigrie's comments.
“With the dawn of social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, any way in which insurers can innovate to raise awareness of the importance of protection can only be a good thing.
“The selfie quote brings an added dimension to it. The accuracy has yet to be proven, but in terms of raising interest it can only be a good thing. The take-up rates will be interesting – it will be good to see the results as time goes on.
“More and more intermediaries are looking at social media as a way of engaging clients. Banks don’t talk about it anymore and it is not really advertised on television or radio, so it is down to intermediaries to engage with clients on other channels like social media.”