Lee Robertson: Papyrophobia and the protection gap

According to our trusty friend Google, the best term to use for a fear of filling in forms is “papyrophobia”. I was interested to see just how many articles there are on the subject, discussing everything from the inconvenience it can cause to how it can bring on real anxiety in many people.

I came to thinking about this as I have just had to complete a few forms supplied to continue  some boardroom insurances for myself and my co-directors. The cover is remaining with the same insurer.

But while we have all been with them for many years and they know all our personal details, the forms supplied to us were blank. This from an insurer that claims to have superb service and an unrivalled knowledge and reputation in the field. What is more, it is also pretty much all they do, so it is not as if they are having to juggle lots of different business lines either.

My point is this: just how on earth can it be justified when it takes no time or trouble to simply use the information they already have in order to make the form-filling process easier?

In such a fast-moving world, where disruptor companies are working hard to remove barriers to purchase and shorten the buying cycle, is it really acceptable that UK insurers are still sending out blank forms to long-standing clients? The problem is further compounded by those insurers that will only accept online applications now.

I am sure there is some laziness on my part here. Despite my career choice I am not a fan of forms at all, and am rubbish at getting round to doing them.

I am a serial last-minute tax return filer, as I am sure many others of you reading this are too. After all, it is human nature to put off what we do not enjoy until the last moment.

However, I am sure there is an opportunity here for insurers to improve on their much trumpeted knowledge and reputation. They could take a leaf out of the books of other organisations that require personal details but work hard to pre-populate forms and demonstrate they are keen to know their customers. They could make real and serious efficiencies in their processes by supplying forms based on previous applications and simply asking applicants whether anything has changed since those points, annotating what and when accordingly.

It seems that very little has changed over the years. Indeed, I recall suggesting all these points to an insurance company decades ago but the problem obviously still remains.

Surely, with all the advances in technology we witness today we could do more to help applicants (including me) overcome their papyrophobia. Maybe in some small way it will help reduce the protection gap.

Lee Robertson is chief executive of Investment Quorum