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Roger Edwards: In it for the long game

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Changing consumer attitudes to protection is a long game. Two recent studies from The Syndicate and Drewberry Insurance reinforce this fact. Both confirm there are three main reasons preventing people in the UK from considering buying life insurance, critical illness cover or income protection:

1)    They do not think they need it

2)    They think it is too expensive

3)    They do not think insurance companies will pay out

Looking back at articles I wrote 20 years ago, these top three reasons were the same then as they are now. I said at the time that face to face advice was the solution. That is still the case. It is a shame we have not been able to use all the technology developed in that time to squash these beliefs without the need for advice. But it is hard to shift consumer perception, particularly if there is some confirmation bias going on.

Most important to address is myth number three. Both the Syndicate and the Drewberry studies show that consumers still think the pay-out rates are as low as 50 per cent. But the protection industry has cleaned up its act in this regard. Publishing claims statistics show pay-out rates for life insurance are in the high nineties. Critical illness cover and income protection also cluster around the 90 per cent mark. The positive messages from many a claims statistic press release are not getting through to consumers. As an industry we need to address this and push out more positive content than ever before.

The Seven Families initiative is a good start but it is as if we need 7000 Families. Using the aforementioned technology anyone can cost effectively produce videos, articles, blogs, podcasts and the like to illustrate case studies. Digital and social media mean marketing campaigns are no longer restricted to those providers with deep pockets.

Eventually our positive stories will start to balance out the negative ones and consumer attitudes will change. But we all need to be in it for the long game.

The studies also confirmed that consumers think protection is too expensive. Note it does not say they want the cheapest possible rate, which has locked the industry into a spiral of cheap rates and harsh underwriting. We must focus our communications on proving to our clients that protection is good value. The reality is they have no idea what it costs.

Once again digital and social media allow anyone with any size of budget to contribute putting out positive messages here. However, as good as digital is, I still believe face to face advice is the best way to overcome the three objections. The key is to use technology to get as many people into a face to face meeting with an adviser as possible.

Roger Edwards works through Roger Edwards Marketing as a marketing strategist and speaker, and through Make Sense Partners when developing new propositions 

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Plenty to agree with in this article, Roger.

    The game is made longer also by regulatory co-lateral damage from the RDR and the pensions nuclear bomb. Both these have significantly reduced the availability of advisor input to be able to tackle the age old problems you highlight.

    Which means now is a great time to follow your advice for any advisory firms wanting to steal a march on the competition in the orphaned protection sector. Well done on-line profile building to attract new customers and help generate referrals from current clients while the herd’s stampeding elsewhere should pay dividends if nicely established before the herd returns. Like the good old advertising through recession rule.

    Interestingly one of the trends highlighted by Money Marketing today and the Independent is the increasing financial power of young women. A group (I’m generalising!) interested more in family and money security than “wealth management” and investment strategies and more social media/internet savvy and story-oriented than the typical financial services typical target client of old.

    So again, seems like good timing to be building a social media-based promotion strategy.

    Oh, and by the way the mad race to the bottom on price we’ve created in the UK, forcing time-heavy off-putting processes for getting protection, means the underlying rates in the UK are likely to be the cheapest in the world. (They would be even cheaper if the regulatory cost overhead feeding into provider and distributor costs could be reduced. It’s like the cost of petrol and tax…). So pretty good value, ie not expensive for what you get. But affordability can be the more valid issue for some. Which is where skilled advice matching scope to cover to budget comes in.

    All power to the advisors out there picking up this challenge. Your country needs you. (Sorry, am I taking it too far?)

  2. Thanks Ruth. Interesting comments about young women.

    Of course the other thing we do in protection is to make “one size fit all”. Would be good to see bespoke propositions for different groups of potential clients by tapping into their communities.

  3. Good point, Roger. With consumers in the driving seat, more adaptable propositions to suit individuals and their priorities better looks increasingly important to me for protection.

    This goes both for providers and also for advisor firms in determining who try to reach out to, as they say in soshul meeja (or targetting as marketeers used to say), and where and how.

  4. When I advised on protection (a long long time ago), it was universal to write any life assurance policy under trust. I am pretty sure this will not apply to any policy bought off the page (or rather off the screen). Surely this should be a driver for clients to take advice in this area rather than merely seeking out the “cheapest” premium. How to convey the benefits to potential clients is not easy I am sure.

  5. Good point, Roger. With consumers in the driving seat, more adaptable propositions to suit individuals and their priorities better looks increasingly important to me for protection.

    This goes both for providers and also for advisor firms in determining who try to reach out to, as they say in soshul meeja (or targetting as marketeers used to say), and where and how.

  6. Hi Graham
    You’ve hit on a topic close to my heart. You’re quite right that ensuring the policy set up right is increasingly overlooked and on-line solutions whether driven via advisers or direct to the public aren’t up to it. (Tho’ I have a cunning plan for that I and a stout-hearted band of fellows are offering companies and advisory firms.) And these days, I’m taken aback to find that even amongst the dwindling band of advisers writing protection still, there are signs of increasing reluctance to get involved in sorting trusts out. Which explains the low % now written in trust and the fact that pay-out times are on the increase again.

    So for the opportunist advisers wishing to demonstrate the value they add, you’ve identified a very simple story-line that can be included in any social media strategy for attracting potential clients to seek advice rather than just “DIY”. (Protection aside, the impending pensions chaos bloodbath looks ripe for advisors to demonstrate their worth, where a planned social media strategy could help some firms raise their profile with the public.) Nothing like the prospect for things going wrong and having the simple solution to fix it to attract a bit of interest.

    This is not to say it’s easy to reach the audience with this stuff. Especially with the dominance of the aggregators. But I was heartened to an initial green shoot of change there too yesterday, with Moneysupermarket making moves to lead that sector into becoming more transparent. So it’s a starting point for what needs to happen to treat customers correctly by informing them of the important stuff. The policy set-up for life cover isn’t on their agenda yet, but it should be. As well as having punters realise there’s more to getting covered than picking the cheapest policy of those that happen to be included on a particular comparison site. (Despite what Martin Lewis says.) Especially if it’s not really the right one for you.

    Preaching to the converted, I’m sure.

    (P.S.MM team: Wonder why my previous comment to Roger has just repeated? Noticed this happening to others too)

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