The ABI believes consumer confidence is on the way up, with its final-quarter figures for last year showing “definite and encouraging” signs of improvement.
Total new individual regular business increased from £864m in the third quarter to £885m in the fourth quarter. Individual single-premium business rose from £10,912m to £11,658m and group single-premium business was up from £1,248m to £1,303m.Only group regular business was down, falling from £272m to £271m.
However, over the whole of 2003, figures for total new individual single-premium and regular-premium business were down, with growth only in the group single and regular markets premiums. Total new business fell for the year from £10,748m in 2002 to £9,603m in 2003.
ABI critical-Illness working party chairman Nick Kirwan says protection new business figures through the inter-mediary market levelled off in the fourth quarter after a sustained period of growth, falling from £114.8m in the third quarter to £110.7m.
ABI head of life and pensions Chris Kenny says: “The positive upturn of quarter four shows a significant change in the attitudes of our customers. The challenge for 2004 is for the Government and the savings industry to build on these first signs of recovery.”
Kirwan says: “I think that if we are to keep growing the protection market, it is up to providers to persuade IFAs that if they are just covering a client's mortgage, it is not enough with personal debt levels as they are in the UK.People do need a bit more cover than the mortgage.”