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It’s all good in the world of protection

Amidst the doom and gloom surrounding the finance sector this week, the protection industry contributed some little rays of positivity.

Skandia announced it is aiming to “clear the fog” around the Finance Act 2006 by hitting the road to educate advisers on tax and financial planning.

A free national roadshow, running from September 24 to October 4, will visit nine locations including Exeter, Norwich, London, Winchester, Newport, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester.

Skandia says the seminars will focus on current thinking in the field of inheritance tax planning, as well as income tax and capital gains tax planning opportunities for IFAs.

Skandia head of tax and financial planning Colin Jelley says: “The subject of tax and estate planning has seen enormous changes over the past 18 months, and demand for expert advice in this area is set to grow faster than ever”.

“It is essential that advisers ensure their knowledge is up-to-date, so that they can maximise the opportunities in this market. However with such rapid changes that can be a challenge. At these sessions we plan to share what we think are the most important issues today as well as what advisers should be doing to tackle them, in order to try and help advisers stay at the top of their game.”

Axa announced new with-profits bonus rates for customers investing in the Axa Sun Life with-profits fund and the Sun Life Assurance Society with-profits fund.

Axa’s regular bonus rates have increased by up to 1.25 per cent for most unitised policies in the ASL fund compared to the same time last year and payouts on bonds have increased by up to 8 per cent.

With-profits actuary Peter Shelley says the improvement in investment returns in recent years has allowed Axa to make further increases in rates of regular and terminal bonuses.

He says: “This is good news for most with-profits policyholders who are now seeing further improvements in the payouts on their policies. The fund remains strong and is currently well placed to turn good stock market performance into further improvements in payouts.”

Lifesearch managing director Tom Baigrie told providers last week that they can close the protection gap by committing at least ten times more turnover to educating consumers about their products.

Speaking at the Association of British Insurers conference on closing the protection gap, Baigrie said providers currently spend less than 3 per cent of their turnover on communicating directly with consumers but they should be spending more like 30 per cent.

He said: “Providers need to get consumers to understand their need for protection not life. You can do this by talking about claims. Deploy your capital if you are serious about closing the protection gap and growing the market or it will all be about market share.”

And to round off the week in protection, Norwich Union has announced a major distribution deal with Post Office Financial Services that will make Post Office branded NU protection products available for its customers.

The first product to launch will be a 50 plus life insurance plan. Products will be available to purchase over the phone through the Post Office website and at branches across the UK.

NU intermediary and partnerships director David Barral says: “We are delighted to announce our latest partnership, which builds on our existing relationship as the Post Office’s lead insurance provider.”

“This is an exciting opportunity which supports our strategy to develop new distribution channels in particular to increase our offerings direct to customers and to develop new, simpler products which are affordable and easy to buy.”

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