Protection  

The industry must promote protection in 2022

The industry must promote protection in 2022
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Who would have thought another year down the line and we would be facing into the eye of the Covid storm again? 

As I write this, Christmas has not been cancelled, but there are rumblings of more restrictions. 

But we have got to look on the bright side. We have had vaccinations to help protect us and maybe a booster too.  It is not always the answer for some – but for others, taking comfort from being somewhat protected feels better than the alternative.

As with all things in the world there are swings and roundabouts, and that goes for the protection market too. 

For 2021, my highlight has been the emergence of income protection hitting our headlines more than ever this year. And here is hoping this will continue into 2022.

Covid brought the emergence of the biggest ever income protection scheme – the furlough scheme backed by the government. While payments were not paid out purely due to illness or injury, it has been a great advertisement for insurance. 

It has demonstrated just how fragile people’s lifestyles and their families are and how their needs can be met with the help and support from protection insurance.

We have seen a growing number of younger people interested in finding out more about protection, and income protection is a star performer. 

While this is great news, the income protection market is small, and if you think it is at the top of most people’s hierarchy of needs, there is long way to go for it to be as successful as critical illness. So, plenty of opportunity then.

It may come as no surprise that income protection has been a stand-out for me this year, but wouldn’t it be great if the attention remained on income protection and we really got to grips with the barriers that customers tell us exist? 

The industry and advisers consistently complain about the name 'income protection', but for me this is not the problem; it is wider than this.  

Changing the name is not easy and would cost millions to update across the market, requiring systems, technology, marketing and document updates. For me, the money would be better spent concentrating on the conversations providers and advisers have with clients and customers and the materials we give out, perhaps even translating it into new languages to reach more customers. 

We all use lived experience experts (mainly customers) in our research these days, so why not ask them to help us rewrite support material from their viewpoint. We need to get away from using the length of our documents to protect us. These documents could be seen as a barrier to paying claims, and although we would like to say otherwise, this is how customers perceive us, regardless of claims statistics.

Awareness

Customer awareness is always a key problem area, and this will continue unless we act. Covid, the furlough scheme and the Income Protection Task Force’s awareness week have provided a unique opportunity for us to do more with customers and consumers. Advisers play a big part in raising income protection awareness with their clients, but providers should take a bigger part in this if we are to help people understand how insurance plays a key role in all our lives by derisking them for us.