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Is Lifesearch’s quick advice route the answer?

Lifesearch has this week launched what it claims to be the first service offering consumers the ability to buy protection products with advice and receive instant cover.

The firm says its new website,, offers consumers a quick and easy route to cover which takes less than two minutes to complete.

The new service allows consumers access to life cover, critical illness, family income benefit and income protection from a panel of four insurers- Axa, Friends Provident, Legal & General and Royal Liver.

If an individual decides to apply online they will be automatically covered for up to 72 hours- provided the cause of any claim is an accident and not health related. A Lifesearch tele-interviewer will contact the client for full personal details before the plan goes live.

Lifesearch stresses that the website is not looking to replace the traditional advice route but instead is an innovative attempt to reach those people who either cannot or do not want to speak to an adviser directly.

For example, it says some individuals may feel uncomfortable giving large amounts of personal details to a stranger. The firm says these people have previously not had their protection needs met online.

A great deal of debate in the protection market in recent times has focused on how to close the protection gap and come up with innovative solutions to meet the needs of people currently out of the reach of advisers.

Is Lifesearch’s new website the answer? Will it help to close the protection gap and benefit consumers without adequate protection? Is it a threat to current models of protection advice?

Let me know your thoughts.


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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Tariq Sefiani 12th May 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Lifesearch Quick route
    I am an independent protection advisor who specialises in Life, Critical and Inc Pro. I am phone/internet based. Unfortunately there is no quick route for arranging these types of insurance. Even with something as simple as Life cover, the consumers understanding of what needs to be disclosed, terminology, and how these policies work is MASSIVELY different from what insurers require. Unless you have an in-depth knowledge of the industry you have to be insane to insure yourself on-line without speaking to an advisor. Critical Illness and Income protection are even more complex. Rateable events (health,occ, hobbies etc) will not be addressed, clients expectations will not be managed. Most providers offer free accidental cover while the underwriting is carried out anyway. It sounds as though another firm wants to go non-adviced based, simply for profit.

  2. LifeSearch
    I agree that, for those who are content to use the web as a research tool for financial planning and services, LifeSearch’s new facility will be of help. I can see this kind of self-help research and solution building growing in future as consumers feel less need to pay someone else to give them advice.

  3. Get Life Right creaming it?
    With the internet getting more and more price competitive it is a way Lifesearch can do what is essentially an execution only transaction and still gain large commissions as if adviced. Just compared a quote between and the and get life was over 8% more expensive.. Given the limited range of insurers I am presuming they have excellent commission terms and are therefore seemingly creaming it…

  4. Life Search
    Consumers will like the site as it is non intrusive, but they will not get the most suitable product to match their needs. All it gives is a mechanical answer, with no real understanding of the clients real needs. Will life Search explain the Trusts needed for these plans and how they work? Take into account future plans? Or any other factors?

  5. Life searcg quick advice
    I agree with the comments above. This is just trying to get a quick ‘non advice’ sale with the label that you are giving advice. If throughout the process the client does not speak to an adviser than how are they ever advised?! After looking at the website I am honestly appalled – the reasons for recommendations are terrible and the recommendation the website gave to me in my situation I wouldnt dream of taking. Seems like they are trying to prey on the naivety of clients without any protection knowledge and make a fast buck rather than do a proper job.

  6. Jonathan Purle 13th May 2009 at 11:25 am

    Tom Baigrie is a Star
    I have mystery shopped Lifesearch in the past (sorry guys, competitor research) and have to say that personally I liked their approach. It is of course difficult to address sophisticated protection needs this way, but most people do not have them – just a huge protection gap.

    Looking at, it is clear that the limited range of insurers used is a function of the ability of PROVIDERS to deliver the straight-through processing and instant cover the site offers.

    Still, this is surely much better than selling life cover at the supermarket or comparison sites with no advice option? Moreover it seems to deal with more than straight-forward life cover.

    If there the Intermediary sector is going to survive as a mass market proposition, these innovations need to be welcomed. (Remember how direct Line decimated the Personal Lines Brokers?). Lets hope more insurers are prepared to support this.

    I can assure you that there will be more Internet delivery initiative coming from the Independent sector. If you can buy and customise a Range Rover online, there is no reason for this not applying to financial products…

  7. Poor quality advice – as expected
    As an IFA, I put some details in to see what answers came up. Apparently, if your yougest of 2 children is 14, you only need FIB for 5 years. What if the children want to go to university? What does my wife do after 5 years for income?

    If you take a shortcut, you miss the important bits and they have the nerve to state that online systems give the wrong answer 67% of the time, so they’ve designed this site to address the issue? Does that mean reducing it to 65% of the time it will be wrong?
    There are no proper shortcuts, as everyone’s desires and wants are too individual to be mechanised.

    The system also ignored any existing policies – what if I had a properly advised but more expensive plan with additional features – I could mistakenly cancel it. Also the basis for the sums assured is too low in current low interest rate environment.

  8. absolutely offers regulated advice
    Thanks for the positive views. Innovation is hard, expensive and when it gives advice the Ombudsman can rule on it. I’ll try to answer those who are not so positive too.

    Firstly, it’s advice alright. As any adviser knows that views are always easy to challenge and improve upon. By letting customers see our advice rules and then make them there own, we hope to get the right solution for each client. All actual applications are reviewed and anything that looks odd is discussed with the client. IP over insurance and other existing policy issues are addressed during the Teleinterview part of the application process and the need for Trusts is raised shortly after a policy goes on risk.
    If there are complicating factors, and we expect health issues to be the main one, the teleinterviewer will pass the case to an adviser and LifeSearch’s phone advice service will kick in, with it’s full whole of market approach.
    The matter of overriding importance for us is to engage consumers as even if you don’t like our advice, they still get the ombudsman’s protection, which they don’t get from the non advisers who dominate the web. We also introduce IP and FIB every time, which is surely a good thing! A £2.3 trillion protection gap suggests that someone needs to do something and if consumers are going to buy online it’s better to do it on than on a non-advised site, which doesn’t offer any route to help consumers meet their real protection needs.

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