Innovation can be seen as a measure of an industry’s longevity and ingenuity. As the UK transitions out of the pandemic, developments within the protection sector are reframing how clients see insurance, and how advisers need to react.
Over the past few years, innovation in the protection sector has brought a series of new products to the market and significant changes to those already offered.
LV, for example, changed all of the upper-age limits across its protection products, including business protection, life insurance and family income benefits, to provide cover up to the age of 90.
These simple, yet significant changes, are a reflection of increasing life expectancy and working lives which mean that many people have mortgages as they head into their 70s.
However, the prominent trend is for cover to go beyond short-term financial security and encompass a wider range of holistic services for clients.
Vikki Jefferies, proposition director at Primis Mortgage Network, says the best products address borrowers’ individual concerns by offering a variety of services, “providing well-rounded support to them and their families”.
She adds: “Virtual GPs and mental health support services are just a couple of examples offered by protection providers that have been pertinent to safeguarding people’s livelihoods and wellbeing, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis.”
While access to virtual GPs has become more popular during lockdown, an overwhelming surge in demand for mental health services has seen requests soar.
Since wellbeing platform WeCare and its range of virtual support services was launched to all of Canada Life’s group income protection clients, almost two-fifths of requests from employees have been for mental health support. This makes it the most used support service on the platform.
Access to virtual GP appointments and a personalised 'get fit' programme were the next most popular services available, making up 29 per cent and 17 per cent of requests respectively.
Many of these innovations are helping advisers strike up the protection conversation with clients, including those that are uninsured.
Innovation in the use of digital health data in the protection sector has been prominent over recent years. Last year, Aviva introduced a free annual health check as part of its DigiCare+ service.
The test involves a blood sample taken using a finger pinprick machine, followed up by an online GP consultation. The process is designed to help policyholders better understand their health and to identify the early warning signs of some conditions.
Yet the increase in services offered, alongside more traditional protection policies themselves, can create hurdles, especially when platforms and providers are spread across different services and applications – a nuisance for both advisers and clients.
This spurred Protection Guru, an information hub backed by the FTRC, to develop a dedicated claims hub designed to support advisers with their client conversations and to streamline the process.