Protecting clients and their families against financial hardship in the event of the worst happening is what insurance is ultimately for. In the event of the death of a life assured, it can help pay off the remaining mortgage, provide a regular income or lump sum for their family and whilst this will always be welcome should the service offered by insurers really end there? Many insurers now believe they have a duty of care beyond just the financial and are putting together services to help the families of claimants in other ways.

Dealing with the death of a loved one is tough enough. Having to deal with their estate is an added level of stress most do not want to consider let alone carry out. Generally, the family of a deceased client will not have a clue where to start and if like most people the loved one has not been meticulous with their record keeping, settling their estate can be extremely complex. Insurers have recognised these difficulties and a number have now put in place legal services to help such families. But when it comes to Estate Administration, who offers what support and how can this help the families of our customers?

The first thing advisers should be aware of with regard to legal services is whether the service is providing guidance or advice as there is a big difference in much the same way as there is a big difference between financial advice and guidance.

*AIG provide guides to help with estate administration but do not provide access to legal services.

Of those that do provide either legal guidance or advice, a range of third party service providers are used. These include;

Services can be provided in a number of ways, so it is always important to see how services are provided and the potential costs. It is worth noting that Aviva and Guardian are the only two insurers to offer full solicitor services. Both use external parties but whereas the service provided to Aviva customers by a third party comes with a cost, Guardians does not.

The main difference however, is how the two services are offered. Aviva offer the service regardless of whether a claim is in place or not and provide a number of different options;

  • MyDigiExecutor do it yourself guide – Free document providing step-by-step guide on what the consumer needs to do to administer an estate and providing links to all relevant forms
  • MyDigiExecutor Online toolkit – £250 – An online tool designed to guide the consumer through administering an estate
  • MyDigiExecutor Supported toolkit – £500 – As above with telephone support
  • Solicitor provided by Trust Inheritance – 0.90% of the estate subject to minimum fee of £2100 – full solicitor services

LegaCare provide free legal services either face-to-face or via telephone to anybody who:

  • is in receipt of state benefits;
  • earns less than £30,000 gross per annum, and/or
  • has net liquid capital of £30,000 or less.

Clients not falling into any of the above categories may be invited to make a donation which reflects the complexity of work involved. This is discussed at the first consultation which is free. All donations are ploughed back into the Charity enabling them to continue to help Clients who would not otherwise be able to access their services because they simply cannot afford to pay legal fees. The table below highlights how services are provided and costs associated with each service provided.

Guardian policy holders are provided with the service free of charge when they need it at claim. Policy holders are not means tested and are not required to make a donation either as everything is sorted by Guardian. As a result, Guardian provide ongoing support to the charity as well as excellent support to their claimants.

Whilst Aviva and Guardian are the only insurers to offer full solicitor services, a number of insurers do provide services designed to help in this area ranging from a legal telephone guidance line, online support and handy guides.

Helping clients to make informed decisions is pivotal and the ability for an adviser to provide information or access to information is crucial. Several insurers provide guidance of some sort either verbally or non-verbally. Aviva, Guardian and Zurich cover the most areas within their estate planning guides. The table below highlights which insurers provide documentation and the varying levels of guidance is highlighted.

Policy holders are expecting more than just a pay out from insurers and those who provide additional benefits are truly providing more than just conventional insurance.

The life assured and advisers need to be reminded of the benefits the client and their families have access to. It is important to remember that trying to deal with the loss of a family member or being diagnosed with a terminal illness is incredibly difficult. The more support and compassion given by insurers to policy holders and their family members will increase the overall value and perception of insurance.

Of the insurers that provide Estate Administration Support, Aviva and Guardian are leading the way. Although part of Aviva service comes with an extra cost, a lot of information is provided free of charge and the use of MyDigiExecutor provides those wanting to complete the majority of work independently with the most information.