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&#39Simplistic&#39 CA report is slammed by Lifesearch

Protection specialist Lifesearch has attacked the Consumers&#39 Association&#39s report on protection advice, saying it oversimplifies the product area which could lead to consumer detriment.

Last week, the CA magazine Which? published a damning report about the quality of protection advice available on the high street, concluding that only one out of 39 advisers gave appropriate advice when mystery-shopped.

But Lifesearch warns of the dangers of offering simplistic solutions to consumers. It does not agree with some of the technical content of the report and says protection advisers have been “tarred with the same brush” as high-street advisers.

The firm does, however, praise the report for highlighting the fact that the high street is not necessarily the best place to source life, critical-illness or income-protection cover.

Lifesearch has set out a bullet-point guide to buying life cover. It recommends six general points for consumers from shopping around, considering single-life policies and mentioning even minor health issues to an adviser.

It hopes that consumers will be aware of the conditions that can be imposed on cover as well as taking into consideration the fact that guaranteed rates may not be consistently inexpensive.

Managing director Tom Baigrie says: “It is vital that in protecting consumers from bad advice, commentators take care not to lead consumers into distrustful apathy, as seems to have happened in the pension market. Lifesearch believes that, because of the diversity of products available, only expert independent advice can be relied upon.”

Which? head of money research Ashley Sharpe says: “We are well aware that critical illness can be the most appropriate form of cover but, in the case of our researchers, we looked very carefully and income protection would have been the most appropriate recommendation.

“Whether or not it was the most appropriate cover, it still should have been explained properly and our research found that the majority of advi-sers did not do so.”

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