One should never really look at the comments that pile up under articles published online but it is very hard not to read them!
My last article for Money Marketing divided the industry quite firmly down the middle with several people writing in praise and others commenting, usually anonymously, that I am the worst thing to happen to the protection industry in recent memory.
What upset some readers was that I had criticised the value of trying to breathe life into a CI product that is awesomely complicated when they ignore Income protection which very often is more appropriate anyway.
A lot of people spring to the defence of CI as if it is a personal friend. I understand this.I would consider IP to be a dear friend and one that I would invite to a family wedding. I was merely trying to point out that there might be a product –aside from a menu plan- that could provide a more flexible option.
One critic accused me of “smoke and mirrors”, a delightfully evocative phrase, because I did not outline such a product in detail.
Sadly one only gets a few hundred words to sum up a situation and devise a solution so I will claim that my brevity was necessary rather than a deceit to fool my audience.
Let me share the unformed thinking that I have been doing with you. One of my favourite all-time products, not just a friend but someone I would go on a short holiday to the Scilly Isles with, is family income benefit. It has been sadly undersold. I like it because it provides income in the key years after the death of a breadwinner and you have the commutation option if you need a lump sum.
Could we combine a life and disability income benefit where someone unable to work could receive an income and – this is where it becomes exciting in an almost Hitchcockian way! – a lump sum as well by commuting part of the income benefit if the condition appears to be longstanding and serious.
Now I am well aware of TPD (and its uglier cousin PTD). I would talk to them at a cocktail party at a friends house but would not invite them over my threshold.
They have caused the industry a lot of grief and we need to avoid this guess at permanence which is the problem.
Maybe we pay a reduced income benefit if the client is off work and add a lump sum if the insured suffers a specified illness. Perhaps the ratio between these could be varied according to circumstances at claim time?
It is an idea rather than being completely smoke and mirrors and I think I like the broad concept.
At this stage I might give this product some mulled wine if it came carol singing and maybe even a mince pie. It is some way off being invited to have Christmas dinner with the family but who knows where our friendship might lead?
Peter Le Beau is managing director of Le Beau Visage