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Tom Baigrie: Consumer ‘experts’ must report more responsibly

The UK protection industry is unfairly defined by occasional failures, when the focus must be on the thousands it has helped.

“One British child in every 29 loses a parent while still a minor, so all new parents should think about life cover. And here is how it works…” said the money saving expert recently.

And though what followed was only a few minutes long, it was on breakfast TV, lunchtime radio and then on evening TV. If you are a protection adviser reading this, I hope your phones and web hits went off the scale too.

Thanks to that story, there are many more families already being protected against the financial consequences of disaster, which can only be a good thing. Disappointingly, other commentators do not ever make that case, perhaps because they see protection as a lottery few will win.

Roger Edwards: Why can’t protection providers crack consumer engagement?

But life insurance is better described as a very low-cost catastrophe insurance against an event which, while unlikely to happen, especially when young, does still happen. And the low risk is reflected in the low price, which is worth paying because death, when it does happen, can cause financial havoc for the dependants.

I cannot see why spending a few pounds a month on life insurance is anything other than exactly the right behaviour for most people.

If you are young and do not have dependents, you may not want or need life cover. But what all but the poorest or richest of us should then consider, dependents or not, is disability insurance to protect ourselves against the financial chaos being unable to work and earn money can bring.

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I suspect that many either have never heard about income protection or are put off by distrust, PPI and tragic unpaid claims stories. But the stats have shown for over a decade that these policies pay well over 90 per cent of all claims.

I have no gripe with anyone exposing those instances where insurers treat claimants unfairly. However, I cannot help thinking that those few who have great influence on consumers could be more helpful to their audiences by occasionally considering the many positive outcomes and the pain they solve, rather focusing entirely on the tiny minority.

Has protection turned a corner?

Every institution gets it wrong from time to time. What is different about protection is that it involves getting a very large amount of money at a time of grave vulnerability. That makes it wise for consumers to be careful how they buy.

A reputable adviser, preferably an independent one, will generally provide good value for money in a competitive market and make sure any claim is assisted by an expert who is on the claimant’s side.

The UK protection industry is unfairly defined by its occasional failures. It has a very decent track record in helping thousands of families and individuals when they need it most. Those who commentate or advise on personal finance are failing those that listen to them if they are not at least provoking the right questions.

Tom Baigrie is founder and chief executive of LifeSearch

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  1. Well done Tom, I have been banging on about this for the last few years and have hunted down the main culprits in my comments on their articles that slaughter the industry, often based on a one sided version of events.

    They do untold damage to the industry’s reputation just to get a headline. Some journo’s are even aided by some industry PR people who should know better…

    Insurers aren’t perfect but they get it right far more than they get it wrong on claims payments.

    Where they do get it wrong there are far less damaging ways of challenging the insurer than a headline that will reinforce the completely false message that life insurers don’t pay..

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