Anybody remotely interested in our national game cannot fail to have witnessed the furore around this seasons antics of Premier League footballers. Referees have been blamed for not spotting this trickery in many instances, and in some cases seeing it and acting against the wrong person. How, you may think, this is in any way relevant to what we do in the Protection industry? Well, there are a huge number of similarities...
If we consider diving as pure cheating - our referee – the FCA – has punished many for doing the same thing. The ramifications of mis-selling of PPI is on our TV screens and in the press as much, if not more, than the ramifications of “diving”.The perception of the general public is often to "tar everyone with the same brush” and label all perpetrators as “cheats”. This can have significant consequences on genuine attempts to change perceptions of both the products we sell, the suitability of those products for customers and their value to consumers generally.
The reality is however that quality IFAs are continually battling against perceptions of some poor Provider Products from the past as well as poor selling practices that led to mis-selling in the first place. In addition, Providers are extending their propositions in an effort to widen the support and care given to clients. These have been changed to offer support not only when claiming on policies, but at any time policyholders require things such as basic information on ranges of treatment available all the way through to emotional support for bereaved families. Such features were unheard of only ten years ago – significant examples of which are given below...
Cover magazine reported on 25 February that MP Jonathan Evans, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Insurance and Financial Services, warned that consumers had “heard the toxic P word” [protection], which was putting them off unrelated protection policies such as income protection. “This follows years of mis-selling of the similar sounding payment protection insurance (PPI), which has cost lenders billions and the industry a huge slice of trust.
He added: “In meetings I have highlighted the great damage the word protection has had from the whole of the PPI scandal and the tragedy that that has coincided with a time when probably more people have needed protection than ever before, against a background in which the word protection has taken on this toxic connotation.”
He could be right. To some extent ‘protection’ is just a word and quite a good one because people want to protect the things that are important to them—but the underlying issue is that people don’t trust anything that sounds like PPI. In order to save confusion insurers have redoubled their efforts to ensure their documentation is clear and actively address their claims statistics. Unsuccessful claims are either because a definition has not been met or because the customer has tried to defraud the insurer and by association its other customers, or recklessly avoided giving information when asked to do so.
Another very successful initiative (although it is still early days) is Seven Families. This takes seven families who had no IP cover but suffered an event where IP would pay out and puts them, for a year, in the position they would have been if they had insurance. It is highlighting both the financial and non-financial benefits of IP and its real-life stories are showing the human side of IP. That is all-important in creating demand as well as trust. Indeed, Seven Families reported on 3 March that quotes portal iPipeline saw its IP quotes rise 5% between November and January, while Iress’s The Exchange saw quotes up 8% in November and 14% in December. It would be great to think that campaigns such as these, along with significant changes made by Providers, are having positive impacts on the perception of these Products. The reality is however that regardless of perceptions Income Protection is a valuable product for consumers especially given that 32% of consumers have little or no savings to see them through a period of hardship if for whatever reason they cannot work.
In a recent development iPipeline have added Solution Builder as a service to their quotation system which helps brokers inform customers on the relative costs of IP alongside other cover types. With Solution Builder, advisers have increased efficiency in the research of suitable products and the associated cost. Solution Builder enables advisers to compare simple and complex protection products in a single view, allowing them to quickly identify the right solution for their clients. It provides advisers with a faster and more efficient way of reviewing a client’s protection needs and how they can be packaged together including both multi-benefit and single-benefit product comparisons, via the matrix option, that encourages up-sell and cross-sell, to accelerate the selling of protection. This should help to at least identify a solution for a clients IP needs and whilst sales of Life Cover and CI are greater than that of IP generally, consumers from various surveys would see IP as being the most important of the three benefits. Find out more about Solution Builder from iPipeline here.
From a Product Provider perspective Exeter Family Friendly, one of the specialists in the Income Protection sector, has worked hard to develop its proposition to make Income Protection products more attractive and flexible. Recently it has added:
- A 24/7 GP Helpline, designed to give new and existing policyholders more convenient access to primary care
- A private prescription service, which may be offered following the GP consultation providing doorstep delivery of medication
- A virtual GP Service, where policyholders will be able to book and carry out face to face consultations with private GPs online using a webcam, adding further flexibility and convenience. What’s more, they can use the webcam service using a smartphone or tablet when downloading the free app.
- New, improved automatic medical evidence limits, meaning we no longer require automatic evidence for customers under the age of 42, regardless of monthly benefit
Find out more about their proposition here. Don't forget they won best Income Protection provider in every single quarter of the Paradigm Awards last year!
Whilst Exeter have developed some practical solutions Zurich take a more holistic stance in supporting clients, further demonstrating the value added approach modern financial services organisations are adopting in order to quash tired perceptions of Life Assurance Providers. They maintain that whilst financial stability is, and will always remain vital, money is often the last thing people actually care about when they initially call on the promise protection policies offer. In their time of need the primary necessity is to deliver support.
From the moment clients take a protection policy or make a claim on a protection policy (Individual life, CI or IP), Zurich's Support Service can step in and help policy holders find their way through the turbulent times. Covering a vast array of subjects, whether they need help to find specialist care for a disabled child, advice on health and wellness, through to how to deal with managing change or anxiety / depression, Zurich Support Service is there to help. Also should the unthinkable happen, telling clients that in such event their loved ones will not only be financially secure but also have qualified bereavement counsellors on hand caring for them emotionally, can offer an additional cushion of reassurance.
More details of Zurich's offering can be found here.
In a “ground breaking” move earlier this year, Friends Life brought to market a unique feature, available to any client taking out a policy with them. Their Global Treatment Service takes the support and care offered to claimants one step further, in that clients holding the appropriate policies can take advantage of the Best Doctors programme with all costs funded by the policy itself. Serious illnesses like cancer and heart conditions are all too common, but while our country’s healthcare system is advanced, the very latest or leading treatment may not always be available in the UK, yet the costs associated with treatment overseas make this an unrealistic option for many people.
Global Treatment makes overseas treatment possible. At a time when your client will almost certainly want to explore all possible avenues, it offers more choice and access to the highest quality treatment options.Global Treatment will pay for:
· an expert second medical opinion
· treatment by a renowned specialist
· hospitalisation costs
· travel and accommodation costs for the life assured and a companion, or both parents (or a parent and a companion) if a child is ill, for the duration of hospitalisation overseas
· cash allowance of £100 per day of hospitalisation overseas (for up to 60 days)
· ongoing medication costs on return to the UK, up to £50,000, for approved medications not funded or only partially funded by the NHS.
All of these benefits are available for a mere £4 per month per policy and can be added to existing policies by a topping up process. These changes are further proof that Insurance companies are going the extra mile to add real value to customers at times when they are most required. Find out more here.
We can see from the positive changes being made by Insurers and technology suppliers alike that far from being deceptive the industry is doing all it can to produce clear and open information for clients. Generally it is improving underwriting to speed through applications, and is producing quotation facilities to highlight the value of Income Protection products for clients. Furthermore it is offering the broadest ever range of support for clients, and is effectively giving clients the chance to fully review existing policies that may not offer the features that are now available.
Finally, Providers have come together in the “7 families” campaign to make real payments to families who did not have income protection but who now have been given the chance to receive the benefit as if they had, in order to highlight the value of the Product. Details of this can be found at www.7families.co.uk.
If you wish to know any more about any of these changes or you wish to view any aspect of the Paradigm Protect proposition go to www.paradigmprotect.co.uk where you can also find all the Provider specific information you require.
Alternatively you can call Mike Allison on 07775 690340, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on 0121 781 7337.