Is it time for fairer access to protection?

Tracey Dickson – Marketing Consultant, Royal London

It’s controversial to say, given in the industry I work in, but some ads for life insurance really annoy me.

You know the ones – where the healthy young actor gets a cheap-as-chips quote online or on the phone and goes right ahead to start their plan there and then. Simple.

And that’s the message consumers have been getting for years – it’s cheap and easy to get cover (as long as you’re young and healthy).

Unfortunately, life’s not like that for everyone, there are many people in the UK who have survived a serious illness. For example, these days 50% of people diagnosed with cancer will survive for 10 years or more.  In fact, according to Cancer Research UK, survival has doubled in the last 40 years, and with medical advances and ongoing research, survival rates will hopefully continue to increase in the future1.

Of course cancer is an extreme example; however, more than 15 million people in the UK are living with at least one chronic condition1, such as heart disease, mental health issues – and one that’s been in the press frequently in recent years – diabetes. And just like cancer survival rates, the number of people with ongoing health issues is expected to continue to rise2.

When you think about it, that’s a lot of people who may think that’s it’s going to be too difficult for them to get protection. Or that they’ll be unable to afford the premium even if they are offered cover.

However, our industry has evolved over the years to accommodate some of the changing needs and attitudes of consumers – most providers now tend to offer extra support to their customers through value added service. And products such as critical illness cover and income protection are updated and improved regularly.

But is it time to think bigger?

If more and more of the population are living with chronic illnesses seen as undesirable or uninsurable to underwriters, that’s bad news for our business. Perhaps it’s time to think about designing cover to reflect the needs of this growing population as standard.

Our industry exists so people can protect their home and their family’s future. And shouldn’t people have fair access to this protection? After all, the need to make sure people get the cover that suits them and that’ll pay out when they need it is at the heart of what we all do.

Sources: 1. cancerresearchuk.org, accessed June 2018 2. chronicconditions.co.uk, May 2012

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