People who are obsessed with an idea find it impossible to believe they might be wrong. And as someone who has devoted his life to trying to promote the protection industry, I cannot believe I have wasted my time.
It seems axiomatic to me that people who have financial liabilities and obligations would want to ensure that should the worst happen – premature death, disability, serious illness or the inability to look after themselves in old age – they do not saddle their dependants with a huge debt or see the complete collapse of their lifestyle. Surely it follows that protection insurance is one of the most important purchases someone can make.
Stated in that way the purchase of protection seems the ultimate no-brainer. But the reality is that a significant part of the population does not see it like that. Protection is a grudge purchase and in times of very significant financial pressure other priorities arise. I am not sure if priority is the word I would use but, as I have already stated, I am biased.
In Western democracies, we give people a significant degree of personal freedom as to how they spend their money and governments hate to be too proscriptive. However, it cannot be a good thing for the Government to have so much potential financial disruption as a possibility, with massive implications for social and economic stability. Governments want to encourage social mobility, not social drift.
I am no economist but if the Government wants to encourage people to save, it should be seriously committed to ensuring that appropriate levels and types of
How many insurers regularly seek dialogue with politicians and, if they do, what do they talk about? There is an important place for collective action through trade associations but this is not enough. At a time when welfare reform is a demographic necessity, long-term care is back on the agenda and our protection products are close to the cheapest in the world, I believe we should be engaging at many levels with politicians inside and outside the Government.
I would be interested to know how many protection insurers were represented at the party conferences this season and to know who is studying the Dilnot Commission’s report for opportunities.
As we talk about the basics of Nest, is anyone arguing that some sort of protection compulsion could be made by the industry.
We turned down the chance to shout about protection a couple of years ago. I just hope we are having quieter, more focused discussions with people that matter.
Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage