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Imagine a man in his late 20s, married, with three children. He works hard to support his family, keeping a roof over their heads, food in their bellies, clothes on their backs while maintaining some standard of living. He is a salesman in a travel firm, with a basic salary of £12,000 but with commission he can earn around £24,000.

His wife looks after the children full-time and, with the birth of their third child, the family are worried. If anything happens to him, how would they make ends meet? They have no savings, the social takes ages to get and if he is not there to pay the bills they could lose the house.

What cover do they have? None, maybe death in service if they are lucky. Maybe the company pays one month’s sick pay, then it is statutory sick pay. Perhaps some free accidental death cover on a personal bank account because it seemed a good idea.

The man makes an enquiry online and requests help. He believes he needs life cover so that if he dies there is money in place for his wife and kids but he does not know how much. He guesses £100,000 over the next 18 years. That way, his youngest will be 18 and probably working.

He gets a call from “cheap-as-chips dotcom”. The sales “adviser” talks him through what he wants but does not really discuss the man’s circumstances. The outcome is is a £10 per month policy and the commission is a couple of hundred quid. Great. The man gets what he wants as does the adviser, everyone wins.

Or do they? In truth, the protection market does itself no favours. We all know life cover is the simplest, easiest product to sell among the protection portfolio of insurers across the board. More than 70 per cent of sales constitute it, which is a sad reality when you consider that it is the cover least likely to be claimed on and, categorically, the least needed.

We need to educate our clients more on the need to protect their lifestyles – not just what happens if they die, but more importantly if they do not.

Instead of concentrating on the simplest or most saleable products as an industry, we need to be able to promote products clients actually need, rather than just the ones they know. Affordable, flexible protection products offering a far greater range of benefits than life insurance currently exist. From £2 a month more than for plain life cover, this man could get cover that pays out not just a lump sum on death but also in the event of a heart attack, stroke, cancer or long-term illness.

It is essential that an adviser offers more comprehensive, affordable cover and that the options are properly explained to the client. It proves the value of good advice and makes the world of difference to the customer.

Duncan McMillan is head of sales at Lifesearch

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