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Peter Le Beau: A less conservative attitude is needed to tackle protection shortfall

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A debate has been conducted over the past few months in the protection industry. It was brought to a head at the recent Signposts For Income Protection meeting when Nick Kirwan and Alan Tyler of the Income Protection Task Force presented the work they had done on trying to ascertain who could safely buy income protection without compromising their entitlement to state benefits.

I understand intermediary concerns because their heads will be on the block but this is not a way to grow a market or serve the public. The process the IPTF has developed does a number of very important things.

First, it will ensure that intermediaries recommend IP only to households that need it. It will also ensure people buy the right amount of cover and avoid applying for amounts that would provide little or no value.

Importantly, it also ensures that consu-mers make an informed decision about whether to buy based on a reasonable understanding of what benefits they might get. 

It will provide a compliance trail to demonstrate that the implications of the decision to purchase IP and the impacts of the welfare system were fully considered during the buying process.

Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it can answer any of the what-if questions a customer might have at the time of sale. What are the implications of having a child, buying a home, stopping work or inheriting money? That to me seems to be an ideal and totally responsible sales aid for any intermediary.

What I really feel we do need to is ensure that as an industry we focus on helping consumers buy essential and good-value cover and address the fact that at the moment 16 million people face a risk we are not helping them to insure.

Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage

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