So instead of pointing the finger with talk of a ‘duty of care’ and the need to ‘close the protection gap’, isn’t it time for the industry to do more to recognise the role that intermediaries are playing in protecting thousands of people up and down the country?
A change in attitude
Changing the way that we talk to and about intermediaries and advice is the first step.
After all, they are on the front line helping to protect consumers. We therefore need to be more optimistic and supportive of their role.
In particular, we need to champion the importance of financial advice, both within the industry and to consumers.
After all, insurance can be complicated, and it is intermediaries that can help consumers to navigate complex products and ensure they take out the right policy with the right level of cover.
If a client is getting their first mortgage, their circumstances change, or a policy is up for renewal, it’s intermediaries that are there to raise the protection conversation at those crucial moments.
Keeping it simple
We could also look at the language, terminology and definitions we use.
When critical illness (CI) was first introduced in the UK, it was called Dread Disease cover and these policies covered only five core illnesses – cancer, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and coronary heart bypass-graft. Now, there are now nearly 100 illnesses covered by some policies.
CI products are inherently complex and many consumers find it confusing knowing which product is right for them.
Some may turn to price comparison websites, believing that a couple of simple questions and clicks will provide the right level of cover, but asking fewer questions without relying on other data sources could leave them underinsured.
Big data is increasingly being used to replace traditional application forms, but while it is helpful, it should be used as an aid and not a replacement for the human touch.
The advice and guidance of intermediaries is vital in helping consumers decide the cover their clients need.
Intermediaries are taking the time to ask customers the right questions, understanding their personal circumstances and discussing any pre-existing conditions that could impact their policy to provide the maximum certainty at the point of claim.
Additionally, more focus should be put on the cover provided by the policy, rather than the number of conditions.
Value of the human touch
As an industry, it is also our responsibility to provide intermediaries with all the tools, products and information they need to help educate customers about cover.
Adviser training is central to this. We delivered more than 6,000 hours of training last year, made up of a combination of face-to-face master classes, conferences and workshops.
Ultimately, intermediaries are the shortest path to making the biggest difference.
It’s time we stop thinking glass half empty and instead focus on recognising the hard work intermediaries do to make sure customers have the cover they need.