Protection seems to be having its moment in the limelight of late.
For example, Income Protection sales were up markedly last year and a 7Families follow-up campaign is currently helping to further raise awareness.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office is backing a series of workstreams to encourage the industry to look closely at what it needs to do to help improve accessibility to all types of protection cover – both on an individual and employer-paid basis.
Whether the government will actually help the industry promote the uptake of protection largely depends on the industry and how much of a proactive and leading role it ends up taking.
Signposting represents an opportunity to do just that.
Launched at the House of Parliament in January as part of the British Insurance Broker Association’s (BIBA) 2020 Access manifesto, the development of the system of signposting to protection specialists has been led by Johnny Timpson’s Access To Insurance Working Group.
A number of insurers, reinsurers and advisers have now signed up to this voluntary agreement.
In doing so, they pledge to signpost customers that they cannot help because of their medical condition or due to disability towards a firm that can help source them appropriate cover.
Because the association has been heavily involved thus far, chairing the workstream and providing support and direction.
Having had signposting in place for the last 12 years to enable drivers with health conditions to access car and travel insurance, BIBA is well placed to lend its experience.
The association already has a call service set up for this purpose - accessible online or via the phone – which will now also be made available for protection signposting purposes, providing an immediate transfer to an adviser or an electronic referral.
How does signposting work in practice?
The signposting agreement does not in any way mandate what signatories should do.
Instead, by signing the agreement, firms agree to “encourage” signposting within their organisations, explains Alan Knowles, managing director of specialist protection adviser Cura and chair of the Protection Distributors’ Group (PDG).
For insurers, this could be signposting customers who apply directly to BIBA’s ‘Find a Broker’ service for anyone they decline, or back to the adviser for advised cases.
For advisers, this could mean setting up an agreement with another firm that specialises in helping customers with health conditions, or referring to BIBA themselves once all other options have been explored.
“The firm you signpost, could be anybody who is suitable for that customer. They don’t have to be a signatory themselves,” adds Mr Knowles.
He says that unlike in the world of travel insurance though, where it is mandated that any case of adverse terms must include signposting, things are little different for protection because in many circumstances loadings or exclusions are warranted.