Although the industry is unanimous in the belief that claims reporting can build trust, there seems a slight disparity on the raison d’etre between the insurers and advisers we spoke to for the purposes of this article.
Insurers say the key advantage of publishing claims stats is to help advisers prevent non-disclosure.
Advisers, on the other hand, say it is about holding insurers to account.
The reality, of course, is that while claims reporting has arguably achieved much on both counts, it could do much more.
If sales statistics are anything to go by, trust in the protection industry is growing among consumers, advisers and the media.
2019 represented a strong year, with more than 2.1 million policies sold (+5 per cent) – the highest level of new business since 2004, according to Swiss Re’s latest Term & Health Watch Report, written in conjunction with iPipeline.
While this success is undoubtedly due to a combination of factors, it’s probably safe to say that the publication of claims statistics over the years has helped to build trust.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the industry who disagrees with this.
But how can advisers make more of the numbers beyond the press headlines? And is it time for claims stats to evolve or do we need an industry standard?
A bit of history
There was a time when the protection industry was up against the wall on a regular basis for declining claims – not just the occasional one we still see today, but several different declined claims on prime time TV in a matter of weeks, with follow ups in the consumer press, and very little by way of a credible defense.
If you were an adviser at this time the chances are you may have been fielding emails and calls from clients wanting to cancel, even though we knew the reality was that most claims are paid.
So, the idea was hatched to produce claims stats for the attention of doubtful minds – consumers, media, and advisers too.
This was around 2005 and it took a long time, but eventually insurers started publishing the numbers and over the years the issue they were initially created to defeat gradually became less serious.
That’s not to say the job is finished.
If the industry stopped publishing stats many might ask why and wonder if there is something to hide, while others argue the ongoing publication of similar statistics and percentages every year just add to the noise.
Everyone it seems has an opinion, but rarely are they the same.
What is consistent is the view that much good work is being done – but that it is not reaching enough advisers (or consumers) or just isn’t being used by advisers.