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Peter Chadborn: Going beyond cost comparisons

Better policies can do so much more and not necessarily at an increased cost.

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Not all advisers think beyond just comparing the cost when making protection insurance recommendations, and certainly not when considering life insurance only. Well our clients can do that for themselves, surely? And they are increasingly doing just that, so how do we compete against the exponential rise in the DIY approach?

Life insurance is a reluctant purchase if ever there was one. No one likes to think about this kind of thing but most people at least recognise that when they have got dependents or a large liability like a mortgage then getting some life cover is the responsible thing to do.

Unless they have got a relationship with an adviser (or even when they have), consumers probably go online and look at a few comparison sites because they would be forgiven for thinking that it is all about the cost. After all, if you’re dead you’re, well, dead so what does life cover need to do other than payout if you die? Well not all life cover does only that; the better policies can do so much more and not necessarily at an increased cost.

Some providers offer additional benefits which should feature heavily in deciding which company to do business with. Most often these are services provided by separate companies which the insurer has decided to partner with. These could include counselling services (in the event of a claim), a medical second opinion service or health and well-being programmes which reward healthy activity.

I was recently fortunate enough to visit the European headquarters of Best Doctors® in Madrid to better understand their proposition and was mightily impressed at the services they offer. Best Doctors is a global organisation with a 20-year history and more than 30 million members. Its principal service to members is independent expert medical information from the largest international database of peer reviewed specialists in the world. It now also provides a range of online tools, from a GP service to tips on health and wellness.

There are currently two UK insurers who offer access to Best Doctors at no additional cost to their policyholders. And what is more, the Best Doctors services extend to policyholders’ immediate family, so should the policyholder’s partner or child be diagnosed with anything, or indeed are worried about a reoccurring unresolved medical condition, they can obtain expert information or a second opinion from a world-renowned specialist.  

Unfortunately not all advisers think to make recommendations beyond just the cost. If we don’t, then we can’t complain if our clients do the same. This means we will possibly not win the business in the first instance, and even if we do we should not be surprised if a commission clawback is suffered when business comes off the books because the client has shopped around for a cheaper premium.

Worryingly, the misguided belief that protection recommendations should be price-driven is too often channelled by compliance service providers or networks. Well they’re wrong. Good advice should incorporate a thorough understanding of each insurer’s product value-adds, and be based on recommendations which deliver benefits clients would be unable to achieve themselves. Surely that is what demonstrates an adviser’s knowledge and skills. Not to mention the increase in persistency this approach delivers.

Peter Chadborn is a director at Plan Money. He visited Best Doctors as a guest of Ageas Protect

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