Long Read  

Does disability hinder access to financial services?

Only 26 per cent of respondents said that their first instinct when choosing a provider is to use one they have used before – 74 per cent of disabled consumers will shop around when looking for these services.

Over the past year, I have learnt a huge amount from so many – disabled people, representative groups, advisers, consultants, competitors and more, and it has struck me how reassuring it is that we work in an industry where people are prepared to compete appropriately, but also to collaborate for the greater good. 

There are three key themes to the work we have been doing this year:

  • Signposting
  • Access to insurance as a career
  • Underwriting and data 

I would like to provide a brief update and reflections on each.

Signposting

The continued and growing willingness to ‘signpost' customers to specialist advisers is an example of collaboration in action, and has meant many more individuals getting cover who might otherwise be left without it.

The more insurance conversations we collectively have, the better. There will be many thousands of advisers who are confident in having that conversation but for those whose focus and specialism lies elsewhere, there are more options than ever.

They can effect mutually beneficial partnerships with specialist firms or refer the client to the British Insurance Brokers' Association ‘Find a Broker’ service. Biba has a well-established call centre and there is a new and improved website due to be unveiled this year.

The Biba Find Insurance Service is available on 0370 950 1790 or you can find it at www.biba.org.uk   The Financial Conduct Authority's consumer duty does not formally mandate signposting, but it gets a strongly positive message. If you cannot write it, signpost it.

Access to insurance as a career

The aim here is simply to make insurance a career where disabled people can thrive. One of the challenges is ensuring the conversation is being had at senior levels within organisations, and one way is to highlight the benefits the Disability Confident status provides.

There is an obligation under the Equality Act 2010 that employers must make reasonable adjustments to support disabled job applicants and employees, but of course we need to go beyond simple compliance to reflect on the social and business imperatives.

The government’s Disability Confident scheme is designed to encourage employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain and develop disabled people. 

In recent months both Lifesearch and Openwork have taken the first steps and reached level one accreditation.  In the words of Setul Mehta, head of business development and adviser services at Openwork: "The Openwork Partnership has made diversity, wellbeing and inclusion one of its key strategic priorities.