As G-Day moves closer, clarity on gender-neutral pricing is still at a worryingly low level. Both advisers and consumers are still not fully aware about what will happen in the lead-up to December 21.
It is also worth noting that there has been a noticeable jump in the interest of the consumer press over the past six weeks about how much premiums will increase by as well as when these changes will come into effect.
First, it is good news that the national press is interested in G-day and helping to educate their readers. But the protection industry needs to ensure it is communicating effectively with the consumer press and delivering promptly the information every media outlet needs.
The industry should avoid negative press as prices rise and consumers get stuck in the pipeline. There will be misunderstanding about what is really happening so the dissemination of good information is essential.
Some providers have started to clarify the situation. Both Bright Grey and LV= have attempted to clarify their positions on pricing and also how ‘I minus E’ will affect protection.
But we need a unified message about how much premiums are expected to rise by and when these price rises will take effect. If we are not transparent, it is only a matter of time before we see a national paper printing complaints by consumers who have been hit by rate hikes and feel misled and betrayed by the industry.
The more openly providers discuss this with advisers, both directly and via the trade press, the better. And in turn providers and advisers need to be raising this with the consumer press at every opportunity. The more consumers know and understand the issues, the better for all of us.
So we need to know when these rate rises will hit and if there will be any clients whose premiums will fall as a result of the impact of G-Day and the ‘I minus E’ tax changes that will hit days later.
Without this information advisers cannot advise their clients effectively and we are holding ourselves hostage to fortune.
Another contentious area is whether clients need to have paid their first premium on December 21 to be deemed on-risk and so not be affected by the change to gender neutral prices. Again, we have no answer yet.
That is why it is important for insurers to communicate with advisers on these and many other grey areas as soon as possible.
It is understandable that insurers do not want to give their competitors an advantage by revealing their prices and policies too early.
But without clarity for advisers and, by extension, consumers, G-day holds great danger. We need agreement across providers on the release of the information. G-Day is around the corner and at the moment we are still in the dark.
Matt Morris is head of external communications at Lifesearch