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The Verdict – How did the industry perform in 2019

The Verdict – How did the industry perform in 2019

In our first insight of 2019, we approached a number of leading protection specialists, if they were given a new years wish, what would they like to see the protection industry change in 2019. The wishes were wide ranging and reflective of the general consensus that the industry does a great job but if we are to insure more people we need to make changes. In our last insight of 2019 we have gone back to each commentator and asked them to give a verdict on how the industry has performed in fulfilling their wish over the last year.

Tom Baigrie – CEO of LifeSEARCH and a founder member of the PDG

2019 wishes

Imagine a market where those wanting to help their customers with more complex issues get protected send them to specialists. Just like doctors or solicitors do. Our next step towards professionalism is achievable in 2019 if insurers demand those they give agencies to don’t just try to make some money, but are a credit to our market, and then use their reach to spread the word that ‘signposting’ is the way forward.

Oh, and LifeSEARCH and all other members of the Protection Distributors Group dream of a day when we suggest a customer seeking Life Insurance also considers their need for Income Protection and the customer answers, “Oh yes I’ve heard about that and why I might need it, tell me more.” I wish the whole industry would promote IP.

How did the industry do?

With all insurers swearing blind they weed out the dodgy dealers as soon as the first metric goes wrong we are making progress, but with LifeSEARCH clients still regularly telling us that someone purporting to be us or their insurer has called them to get them to change their policy, or that TIB is the same or cheaper than CIC or that DTA is a more cost effective version of LTA, it’s clear we have a lot of work to do to clear out the cowboys.

In 2020 we will have a signposting set up and ready for referrals in from all. So almost there. But the PDG and BIBA have worked on a ‘build it and they will come basis’ and it remains to be seen if insurers, non advisers, GI brokers, wealth managers et al start to use it as they should, and as the FCA has made compulsory in travel insurance. So I’d say we are half way there overall.

With IP sales rising (LifeSearch’s grew by 27%) we are making progress, but I see little or no promotion of IP and no real increase in consumer awareness. So I’m afraid it’s a lots of work to do there too.

Alan Knowles – Managing Director of Cura

2019 wishes

In 2019 I hope to see more insurers break away from the ‘computer says no’ mentality, to challenge existing mindsets of how much risk many health conditions actually pose. I’m not advocating for every person to be considered at standard rates, or to have immediate online decisions, for many that simply isn’t possible. But, individual considerations and an empathetic ear, will go along way in building confidence in the insurance industry’s efforts to improve access to insurance. I also hope that we continue to see the strive towards better customer outcomes at claims stage through even more insurers signing up to the PDGs Claims Charter and Funeral Pledge.

How did the industry do?

Last year I expressed two wishes for the protection industry to work towards in 2019.  The first was for less ‘computer says no’ and more individual considerations when it comes to offering protection insurance to people with medical conditions. Whilst we have made some great (and commendable) improvements, especially for people living with HIV and people with mental health conditions, I do still feel that we have a long way to go to become a more inclusive industry.

Secondly, I expressed my wish to see more insurers signing up to the PDG’s Funeral Pledge and Claims Charter. I am delighted to say due to the new signups in 2019 that we now have a total of 12 insurers committed to the pledge and 9 to the charter. We are nearly there, and I’d like to thank those that have worked hard to sign up and those that are continuing their efforts to sign up, which hopefully we will see in 2020. 

Lucy Brown – Head of Protection at London & Country

2019 wishes

I’d like to see further advances made in the field of predictive underwriting. Using alternative sources of data to underwrite customers much more efficiently, in turn speeding up what is otherwise a slow and arduous process. Royal London pioneered this approach when they introduced the concept of streamlined underwriting alongside L&C in 2017, using mortgage fact-find data, predictive analytics and machine learning to replace 30-40 questions with a maximum of 6. It’s been a revelation for on boarding protection clients and is night and day versus the alternative (old) route. It offers guaranteed terms at the end of a very short question set versus a speculative quote and the end of a lengthy question set – what’s not to like. I’d welcome more providers introducing similar processes across many more product lines and outside the mortgage protection market too.

How did the industry do?

Whilst there has been more focus on underwriting journeys and ‘buy now’ products throughout 2019 we are still yet to see customers being underwritten through the use of alternative data sources on any scale.  I therefore think there is still a lot of work to do in this area but am hopeful that it won’t be too long in coming.

Robert Harvey – Head of Protection Advice at Drewberry Insurance

2019 wishes

In 2019 I’d love to see some radical changes to Income Protection Insurance and some genuine market disruption in a similar way to some of the work going into Critical Illness Insurance. At a fairly basic level I’d like to see more insurers offering financial underwriting at inception, to lock in either the full or partial benefit, and reduce the risk of future over-insurance; the inclusion of carer benefits for those who have to stop working to care for sick children; and more open and fairer underwriting, particularly around mental illness.

Thinking a little more imaginatively and recognising the impact early intervention and accessing the right treatment quickly can have on an individual’s health, a sort of hybrid cover of Income Protection and Private Medical Insurance would be on my wish-list. Effectively this would be insurers funding access to services such as private consultations and diagnostics, or an enhancement to some of the current free counselling and therapy benefits offered by a number of insurers.

Providers could look to offer Income Protection coverage beyond state retirement age as well, in view of the increasing number of years individuals spend post-retirement in poor health and with longer-term care needs. Clearly this wouldn’t be a continuation of income-based cover, but instead could be some form of pre-retirement funded monthly care cover, or a pre-funded extension of income benefits beyond the retirement age of the plan.

How did the industry do?

Reflecting on my wishes from last year, which focused mainly on Income Protection, it feels like there is still work to do. There’s been a real buzz around Income Protection this year within the market, along with what feels like a greater awareness from consumers, matched by improving sales. The fundamental aspects of the product remain unchanged though and whilst we have seen some tinkering from insurers, it would be great for their to be much more of an overall of how the product works to better reflect the needs of modern consumers and their work & lifestyle habits.

Neil McCarthy – Chief commercial Officer at Direct Life & Pension Services Ltd

2019 wishes

In 2019 I was looking for some innovative solutions to cover;

more innovative ways to engage the customer,

use of modern technology that current consumers can engage with, 

more targeted product solutions that consumers find attractive,

better directly linked products to other financial products eg mortgages, investments,

inter-generational purchasing, 

simpler ways of buying and selling the product, with improved messaging, that take away the complexity,

certainty of claims payment,

more relevance to long term solutions as a customers’ risk profile and circumstances change, 

more focus on “living benefits” eg IP and CI rather than Term Life.

How did the industry do?

It was a big wish list, and I think all points fall into the “lots of work to do” scenario with a few exceptions.

Mike Allison – Head of Protection at Paradigm Mortgage Services & Paradigm Protect

2019 wishes

My wishes for 2019 would be even further streamlined applications especially when linked to Mortgages- I reiterate my stance that clients of a certain age should be able to take out life cover with very few questions indeed – people don’t buy houses to defraud Life companies!!

Continued education to brokers about the opportunities for Life sales will of course be important and ongoing support from Distributors and Providers alike will help

In short- anything that encourages clients to take out cover and Brokers to focus on opportunities will be welcomed whether that be Price, Process, Product or Promotion- making life easier for Brokers is a timeless route to success

How did the industry do?

Further streamlined applications – we are slowly getting there and I do know the focus from some Providers is to drive towards greater simplicity when it comes to Mortgage Linked Life sales – further integrations with the larger back office system Providers will help.

Continued Education – At Paradigm we have had our most successful year ever with our Protection events for DA firms – I genuinely believe more want to hear about the opportunities within Protection and how we can all work together to achieve them – our award winning CPD Academy has been inundated with use giving thousands of hours CPD learning which is in part testament to all Providers who have supported it with Material.

Anything that encourages Clients to take out Cover – The use of Solution Builder by our membership has increased significantly in 2019 as have the stats on multi-benefit sales in the DA space, which has clearly helped brokers and clients alike to focus on opportunities. Interest in FTRC’s Quality Analyser tool has increased and the piece of work aligning Product Quality Sales v Price by one of our larger firms has had a positive impact on many brokers.

Kevin Carr – Protection Review CEO

2019 wishes

What I’d like to see is a greater focus on simplicity, especially around renters, income protection and family income benefit. I also think there’s a place for a fixed price, simple IP product for students and millennials, aimed at parents, which includes a small amount of short-term IP and no underwriting (but a pre-existing condition exclusion) and includes a few relevant discounts or freebies to make it tangible. I suspect we’ll also see some developments around mortgage related IP and of course a continued raft of CI changes.

How did the industry do?

Well, amongst other areas I asked for simplicity around IP and there has been progress from some insurers including Legal and General for renters. The universal credit issue has moved forward a little although further clarity would be preferable. So, overall I’d say there’s still lots of work to do.

Dave Edwards – Director of Esperto Business Solutions

2019 wishes

The protection market has seen something of a resurgence over 2018 and long may this continue going into 2019.
Technology innovation is playing a key role in this success story, but more can still be done by providers and technology suppliers to improve the process. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can further speed up the know your client and application process. Further innovation and greater adoption by advisers, providers and customers could also see tools ‘nudging’ products based on the known and propensity for conditions without the need for early adviser intervention.
Further collaboration between intermediary businesses, product providers and technology suppliers will only help to further speed up and enhance the protection experience for the consumer. Working together on new initiatives and campaigns to influence the consumer and the regulator of how the protection advice underpins the populations financial security and prosperity.

How did the industry do?

2019 has seen lots of innovation by product providers, technology suppliers and distributors. This focus on improving the protection experience is starting to have a positive impact on the quantity and quality of protection products bought by customers.

The greater adoption of technology in the advice and administration processes is certainly helping to the protection market to move away from the murky world of pressure sales, lengthy underwriting and expensive loading.

However, we cant be complacent and there is more work to do.

Adam Higgs – Head of Protection at Protection Guru

2019 wishes

My wish would be for insurers to become more engaged with the core software that advisers use in terms of practice management software. If insurers could build integrations for in force policy information with such systems, advisers would find it far easier to produce annual statements and review documents and dare I say it even include protection within their client portal offering with more confidence. For wealth advisers this could mean that protection could become far more visible with their clients. Building on this, if insurers could work together with advisers and software suppliers to build a standard for in force policy messages, the industry could start focusing on ongoing protection advice with more innovation from tech companies in this area.

Sadly, my wish is the one where the industry has mad absolutely no progress at all! We recently produced a piece of research entitled “Understanding adviser preferences when dealing with insurers” which highlighted that many wealth and holistic advisers would like to highlight the protection plans their clients have within their client portal, much like they do with their investments, but this is currently impossible due to a lack of integration. Is it any wonder that wealth and holistic advisers shy away from protection when the processes are alien to them and the products are invisible within their core operating system, their practice management system?

To request a copy of our “Understanding adviser preferences when dealing with insurers” research click here

About The Author

Adam Higgs

Adam leads Protection Guru's detailed protection research and benchmarking of both product and operation features provided by insurers and has a vast knowledge of the protection market. He has been instrumental in building the protection comparison service Quality Analyser and maintaining the data to enable adviser to quickly and easily compare protection products based on qualitative measures. He also works with adviser firms to help in panel reviews and with insurers to help them understand the shape of the market, their strengths and the areas that could be improved in their products. In his spare time and when not spending time with his wife and two children, Adam is a keen Arsenal fan and enjoys hacking his way around a golf course.

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