Money Marketing has thrown its support behind former Ageas Protect managing director Martin Werth’s calls for the creation of a protection awareness day.
Werth is urging all insurers to send an annual benefit statement to existing customers on the same day every year, pointing out what protection they have and directing them to an IFA to discuss further needs.
Werth says: “The first aim is to let people know what protection they have. You cannot talk to people about what they need until they have reminded themselves of what they already have in place. The next step is for advisers to engage with customers to start having a look at what they need.
“We must be persuasive in our communications to ensure that people start to think about whether their cover is adequate for their needs and where they can find help if it is not.”
Werth says he acknowledges advisers’ fears about providers contacting their clients direct but stresses that the campaign will promote advice. He says: “This is a promotion for advisers because, after all, this is about protection advice.”
Werth says he wants to see the awareness day introduced in 2013.
He says: “I think the beginning of 2013 would be the best time to launch this because by that time, the easy sales, such as term assurance or critical-illness cover, will have been done before regulatory changes such as gender-neutral pricing and I minus E tax changes are introduced later this year. It will be the ideal time for people to spot the protection gaps they have.”
Werth is convinced that providers will get significant new business as a result of contacting all protection clients, which will outweigh the administration costs involved.
He says: “Some might ask if it is money well spent, particularly if they have thousands of customers. But if we are trying to bridge the protection gap, then we cannot do this any other way. And with that cost, there is a benefit, which is people buying more cover.”
The protection industry has been trying to engage with the general public for years in an effort to bridge the UK’s estimated £2.6bn protection gap.
Werth says: “The protection industry is too used to just talking about the problem but we have got to rise to the challenge and make people question if they have enough cover.”
Annual benefit statement
Protection consumers will all get an annual benefit statement from their provider on the same day, detailing what protection policies they have in place.
The statement aims to get people thinking and talking about protection and considering whether they have enough in place to cater for their needs. Werth says all statements should use the same template and should allow consumers to easily assess what protection they have in place and what they might need. The statements would urge people to speak to their IFA if they have one and will offer details about where people can find an IFA if they do not.
Roxburgh Financial Management financial sales manager Garry Webb
“This is a good idea. A lot of clients we see are not sure exactly what cover they have and when they are made aware, it really hits home. People think they are protected but in many cases they are not.”
Master Adviser senior partner Roy McLoughlin
“Anything that raises the profile of such a vital subject deserves to be supported by all within the industry.”
London & Country associate director of communications David Hollingworth
“We would be very supportive. This is a positive way of approaching the subject. There is a lot of talk about how to bridge the protection gap but there is never any progress made.”
Lifesearch senior policy adviser Matt Morris
“I think this is a great idea. Consumers need to be aware of protection and it will push protection up the agenda.”
Plan Money director Peter Chadborn
“It is a brilliant idea and it will prompt a conversation with clients. I would be very supportive of a campaign that aims to achieve this.”