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Protection Watch: Fresh thinking and power to the people

Protection Review chief executive Kevin Carr looks at recent market events

Power to the people

Now in its third year, the Protection Distributors Group has recently launched its “Claims Charter”, which aims to improve the basic levels of best practice undertaken by insurers when dealing with claims.

Over the last two years, the group has driven market wide changes with its Funeral Payment Pledge campaign, which asked insurers to commit to advancing payments to families to cover funeral costs. Groups including AIG, Aegon, Aviva, Royal London and LV= introduced early payments as a result.

Assured Futures managing director Ian Sawyer says: “The new charter represents a practical set of measures to help improve the customer experience and give the industry a simple benchmark. It is very frustrating when adviser firms see such a variety of standards experienced by clients at the point of claim, especially considering the magnitude of the circumstances facing them. Providing a top-class claims experience should be every insurer’s priority.”

To serve and protect

Guardian is the new kid on the IFA protection patch, with an old insurance brand. Its life and critical illness cover products, which aim to offer something a bit different, have been well received.

Taking a fresh view in some key areas, its heart attack, stroke and MS definitions are based on clarity and common sense, requiring only a UK consultant to confirm the event has happened.

There are no standard exclusions and waiver of premium, typically a priced and undersold add-on with a range of options, has been included free with a one-month deferred period.

iPipeline managing director Ian Teague says: “It’s great to see new providers entering the market, bringing new thinking and ideas that will help grow the protection space and improve the UK’s financial resilience.”

Protection sales continue to rise

The latest Swiss Re Term & Health Watch report has shown that just under two million new term, whole life, critical illness and income protection policies were sold in the UK in 2017; an increase of 11.6 per cent on the previous year. Critical illness cover saw the biggest increase, with a 31.9 per cent rise in new sales, with Legal & General, Aviva and Vitality leading the way.

Also on the radar…

  • The Association of British Insurers has replaced its Statement of Best Practice for Critical Illness from 2014 with the new Guide to Minimum Standards to Critical Illness Cover, which features a number of key changes to guidelines for definitions. The ABI says it regards the new model wordings as the minimum standards that must be applied by no later than February 2019.
  • VitalityLife has published a new Claims and Benefits Report, which shows it paid out £36.1m in claims during 2017, with 96 per cent of all claims paid. In total, 982 claims were paid.
  • British Friendly has confirmed the full integration of its Immediate Support Payment initiative following a six-month trial. The benefit means the insurer can make claim payments at end of the deferred period for income protection, whether or not supporting evidence has been received.

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