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Protection business plummets

Protection business plummeted last year, widening the life insurance gap to 2.2 trillion, according to figures from Swiss Re.

The company’s term & health watch report reveals a 31 per cent drop in individual critical-illness policy sales from 1,066,262 in 2003 to 736,671 last year.

Individual income protection business fell by 25 per cent from 216,169 policies to 162,061 while term insurance is down by 17 per cent, from 2,136,736 to 1,767,208.

Individual whole-life sales have fallen by 4.7 per cent. Whole-life policies have the lowest distribution among intermediaries, with only 7 per cent sold through IFAs.

Chadborn Baker and Kearle principal Peter Chadborn is concerned that this area could lead to misbuying as people might be sold inappropriate products without advice through execution-only channels.

Chadborn says: “Falling sales could be down to increased regulation. There was a slowdown in business leading up to GI-Day. I have noticed an increase in the amount of investment and pension busi- ness that I have been writing, with less focus on protection. However if an IFA needed to have one core business sector, then it must be protection.”

Bright Grey product director Roger Edwards says the figures are disappointing. He believes the entire industry needs to make efforts to prevent this decline continuing.

Edwards says: “This is very worrying for the man on the street. As the need for protection products grows, we see figures falling beyond expectation.”

“We cannot just say that it is the IFAs sitting on their hands, the providers also need to take responsibility. There is too much talking in this industry and not enough action toward getting the prob- lem solved.”

Swiss Re cites fewer rebroking opportunities on term insurance products, an unstable critical-illness cover market, IFAs neglecting income protection as an option and stronger investor confidence as reasons for the sales falls.

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