Type 2 diabetes, where the body does not make enough insulin or does not make insulin that the body can use properly, typically affects those over 40 and overweight.
More than 12 million people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK.
Diabetes sufferers are at particular risk of additional health issues and, as a result, are arguably in greater need of income protection.
However, The Exeter’s An Unhealthy Situation research report shows that diabetes sufferers are no better protected than anyone else.
We surveyed 2,000 people across the UK, including more than a quarter with a serious medical condition, and found that many lacked any protection at all.
Only 28 per cent of those surveyed with type 2 diabetes had life cover, while only nine per cent had income protection and 61 per cent had no cover at all.
Not an underwriting problem
There is simply no good reason why it should be like this.
Our research shows that it’s not because underwriters are turning down people with existing medical conditions; only one per cent of respondents said they were unable to get protection through an adviser.
Encouragingly, about a third of cases with a protection policy were bought through an adviser, either directly or by being referred to a specialist broker.
This was about the same as the average for those without a medical condition.
Whatever the reasons for the low uptake of income protection insurance, we know that advisers will have a central role to play if it’s going to change.
Highly regarded advice
It’s clear that advisers are already doing a good job; among those with type 2 diabetes, 96% found their adviser to be very useful.
Clearly, there is a high level of trust in advisers, and that means they are well placed to help encourage those with medical conditions like diabetes to consider protection.
The question is how we in the protection industry can support more advisers to help more people.
Income protection can arguably be a better solution for a lot of people than critical illness cover, but people often neglect to consider it as a viable alternative.
We actively encourage more advisers to open-up what can be difficult conversations with clients about their health in order to make sure they have the income protection products that are right for them.
The prime benefit for consumers is being able to carry on with their standard of living if they’re unable to work and keep that income stream flowing.
Opening up the conversation
It may make more sense for advisers to use a pre-prepared set of neutral questions when broaching the subject of protection with clients who have health issues such as diabetes, to get them to realise for themselves how important protection could be.
For example, advisers may want to start by asking how much the client’s monthly take-home pay is, followed by how much their monthly outgoings are.
It is also important to determine whether these clients have any savings, how much is saved and whether they would be willing or able to use these funds to support themselves, should they need to.
All of these questions can help an adviser guide their client to the realisation of how financially prepared they are for the event of being unable to work through no fault of their own.
Diabetes sufferers are at risk of additional related health issues, so they are arguably in greater need of income protection than others.
The mission now is to spread the message further.