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Emma Thomson: Use client stories to promote protection

Seven Families showed that the stories behind the claims statistics can help promote a greater understanding of protection.

It’s that time of year when insurers publish their claims statistics, giving confidence that most claims are indeed paid. This openness has created confidence in our industry and, while not all insurers have released their data yet, the 2017 trends are once again positive news. But, as always, we can do more.

We’ve begun to see insurers provide more than just data by sharing stories about the claims they pay out, providing greater understanding about the positive impact they have on claimants.

Seven Families really showed the additional support insurers can provide at claims stage, in addition to money paid. Rehab, second medical opinions, counselling; they all add real value at a time when money isn’t always the only solution. This aspect should be better promoted at the forefront of marketing materials as reasons to buy cover.

We should also, of course, minimise further those claims that can’t be paid, for example by designing products that are simpler to claim on, with less risk of not meeting the criteria – such as addressing the gaps in CI cover – and plans specifically suited to the growing number of self-employed and gig workers.

Aviva axes critical illness cover from disputed protection product

Non-contractual benefits provided in addition to the cover are increasingly popular. They’ve become a new way for insurers to compete, and they can be very attractive to policyholders, making cover better value for money.

Cheaper access to gyms and fitness devices helps promote health and wellbeing. Virtual GPs could be a godsend to parents facing surgery waiting rooms full of sick people. Retail discounts help save money on leisure activities.

Policyholders could be missing out on these extras, though, because they’re either not aware of them when they buy, or they forget. We should ensure all consumers, regardless of how they buy, know about these benefits such as through better communications at purchase stage, annual statements and mobile apps.

The advantage is that clients feel their premiums provide more than just a payout when tragedy strikes, leading to more positive attitudes to our industry, greater customer loyalty and market growth.

Protection Watch: Earlier claims payment and critical illness compared

However, there is one area needing much greater focus as it could damage all that good work. Many claimants are claiming on policies where the insurer no longer trades. The firms now managing these claims do not publish data, nor do they typically offer the same level of claims experience. Making a claim through these firms can be lengthy and frustrating.

Our industry’s progress should extend to all claimants, not just those who are claiming through insurers with reputations to protect and new clients to attract. We collectively can’t afford to ignore this issue. Every claimant deserves our care and attention.

Emma Thomson is chair of the Protection Distributor’s Group

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