What a summer that was. Not the weather, of course, I meant the sport, in particular the races.
I was lucky enough to be in the stadium when Mo Farah won his second gold and we also had Jess and Bradley and Laura, Sir Chris, The Weirwolf and Ellie.
I like a good race but sadly I think the industry is involving itself in the silliest race I have seen for a very long time.
You have probably guessed by now that I am referring to the “conditions race”. What a ridiculous and fatuous race that is and what a disservice it does to our industry.
There are people straining to add a scintilla of value just to look different from their competitors. When lots of competitors try this, the result is mayhem.
I will not detail the way this race developed. I have long thought the ABI has done some very good work to shore up and reposition the product but it is a tough task when the marketing focus on critical illness has moved in the direction it has in the last few years.
I remember lugging a huge briefcase full of overhead slides around South Africa in 1994 showing how we had “developed” critical illness. Most people I spoke to were incredulous and saw it as a descent down a very slippery slope.
The South African response was tiered products which have slowly won adherents in the UK and are an honest attempt to make a bit more sense of the product.
But sadly, critical illness, which is designed to provide cover against serious illness for those at work but which does not cover the two most important conditions you are likely to suffer from has never represented the best option for people wanting cover against disability. It certainly does not offer the best option now and the fact that it outsells IP by five to one despite the huge problems it faces says a awful lot about wrong priorities in our assessment of client need.
This might be deemed to be a trifle controversial and, frankly, I am rather hoping it is.
I am not saying that people do not need critical illness. It is a great help to liquidate liabilities with lump sums when you become ill and it is a product that has increased appeal to single people.
But frankly the complexity of definitions has become almost laughable and we have to find a better way to cover a lot of the people who bought it. You probably expect me to say that product is income protection but maybe it is a product that incorporates the best features of both CI and IP.
Menu products have done this quite successfully but maybe we could take this thinking futher. Certainly, in a year of great races, I cannot help feeling that the conditions race is taking us down entirely the wrong track.
Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage