F&TRC releases annual protection ratings

F&TRC releases annual protection ratings

New market entrant Guardian received six gold awards in this year's Finance & Technology Research Centre's protection ratings. 

The ratings are intended to help advisers understand which providers offer the most suitable protection products for clients and offer a ranking of gold, silver or bronze.

A F&TRC spokesman said the ratings are based on overall proposition and product features, using the most commonly selected features from the firm's product comparison tool.  

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Guardian received a gold award for its life cover, life cover with critical illness, mortgage protection, mortgage protection with CI, family income benefit and family income with CI products.

Following an initial pilot phase Guardian launched into the wider market at the end of August, established with £180m of investment.

Aviva featured in seven gold categories - but where its upgraded products received the highest award for life cover with CI and mortgage protection, its standard offering of the same products achieved bronze standard. 

Mark Cracknell, head of protection distribution at Aviva, said the provider wants to ensure life insurance and critical illness is inclusive and available to as many customers as possible.

He said: "We built a tiered approach to critical illness allowing customers to upgrade their cover to suit their circumstances.

"Upgrading brings a greater breadth of cover where the core product provides valuable cover for the most claimed for conditions and still allows access to our support services and optional benefits."

Aegon was awarded bronze for its business protection, family income benefit, family income benefit with CI, mortgage protection with CI, life cover and life cover with CI products - but achieved a silver standard for business protection with CI, income protection and mortgage protection. 

Stephen Crosbie, protection director at Aegon said: "Aegon has invested heavily in improving the adviser experience for protection in the last few years which has resulted in an increase in applications by over 30 per cent this year.

"We are committed to making Protection easy for advisers and have a number of propositional developments underway that we plan to deliver in 2019."

Ian McKenna, director at F&TRC, said the research consultancy has seen many major enhancements to protection products in the last year.  

He said: "It’s great to see the number of existing and new providers making real efforts to improve the protection cover they offer.  

"This step-change will hopefully help improve consumer confidence in the protection cover offered across the industry and increase the number of consumers who put some cover in place and reduce the protection gap."

Mr McKenna said the protection ratings are part of a wider tool-kit from F&TRC to help support financial advisers, para-planners and networks, who advise clients on protection cover.  

He said: "The ability to conduct full product analysis from our research site enables advisers to demonstrate that they’ve conducted an independent assessment and are to use the one-page product analysis to demonstrate that the advice they’ve given is fully compliant."