Life Insurance  

Consumers told they are in 'illness denial'

He said: "The plain truth is that we have lost 90 per cent of the advisers and salespeople who were around 25 years ago.

"Worse still, only around 40 per cent of the current adviser population bother with protection as they are fixated on investments and pensions."

He went on to say that consumers needed to be approached and advised on protection shortfalls and that it was a difficult task to make any real shift in the industry.

He added: "For years we’ve heard that robo-advice or direct to consumer sites will sort out the problem, but the reality is they only scratch the surface.

"More advisers need to get involved in protection and make contact with their clients on a regular basis."

Last month, adviser Jiten Varsani said advisers needed to change the way they spoke about protection to help close the 'protection gap'.

He urged the industry to move away from mortgage protection and towards protecting the whole person.

Further research from MetLife out today showed consumers were also unaware of the everyday benefits protection policies can give.

MetLife’s study of 1,064 people showed that nearly two out of five adults did not believe individual protection policies would pay out for everyday risks such as broken bones. Nearly half (49 per cent) were unsure whether protection policies covered everyday risks.

Mr Lakey said the research did not surprise him as "most consumers have only a vague awareness of the types of plan available".

He added: "Quite simply, these and many other financial products, are too uninteresting to people who have busy lives and cannot really understand or be bothered to understand the terminology.

"Add to this the general distrust of insurance and the result is this ostrich-like behaviour from consumers."

Justin Harper, head of protection marketing at LV said: "[Protection providers] recognise that life throws up all sorts of surprises where we might need some extra practical, emotional or financial support.

"We believe that protection is the bedrock of financial resilience, and not just a product that comes out of the drawer when a catastrophic life event happens."

Despite the findings, the protection industry is growing. Latest SwissRe figures showed the individual protection market grew by 5.9 per cent year-on-year, with the income protection market increasing by more than 20 per cent over the same time period.

imogen.tew@ft.com

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on fa.letters@ft.com to let us know.