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Roger Edwards: What next for protection?

The protection industry needs to find its “next big thing”, according to former Bright Grey and Scottish Provident managing director Roger Edwards.

Speaking at last week’s LifeSearch Protection Awards, Edwards questioned where the new innovations would come from. 

He said: “What will be the next partial payments? Are we happy to keep adding new medical definitions, adding to the already complex list of conditions that we’ve attached to every type of cover?

“Perhaps what the industry requires is a simpler list of products or just a simpler process. But who will lead that change?”

Reacting to Edwards’ call, Plan Money director Peter Chadborn says the biggest impediment to growth in the protection market is a dissuasive and laborious application process.

Chadborn says: “If we are brutally honest, I think the process needs drastic simplification. The big problem is that when people apply for protection, it is a reluctant purchase. Most consumers need a push to get their protection cover sorted and as things stand currently, the process is just too complex to encourage more people into the market.

“Without any doubt, the main obstacle to growing the number of people purchasing cover is that the process is as dissuasive as you could imagine. We need to come to a place where someone can be underwritten fully and then be able to simply get the products they want and need.”

ILC-UK director and Income Protection Task Force executive committee member Nick Kirwan says the industry needs to overhaul both application processes as well as the products on offer.

Kirwan says: “I think what the industry needs to do is turn the scope around and take a more consumer-centric view of the process and simplify the products available
as well.

“Frankly, I’m not sure the products or processes we employ are fit for purpose. It’s everything, from the lang-uage we use to a constant stream of acronyms that few people understand. We make it impenetrable.”

Kirwan believes the industry needs to show a greater level of trust in consumers. 

He says: “Often we see research that says consumers don’t trust that their insurance will pay out in the event of a claim but on the other hand, how much do providers really trust the consumer?

“I know that I do not smoke. If I state that on my application, I will still be asked to go through tests to prove what I have said is true. 

“Why are we adding that layer to the process? Either ask the question and trust the answer, or run tests. 

“Don’t create extra work for consumers who have been reluctant to start the process anyway.”

Lifesearch award winners 2014

– Best Individual Impact – Graham Taylor (LV=)

– Best Service Team (New Customers) – Legal & General

– Most Improved Provider – LV= 

– Best Critical Illness – Friends Life

– Best Underwriting Team – Aviva

– Best E-Commerce Provider – Ageas

– Best Income Protection – Exeter Family Friendly

– Best New Initiative – PruProtect

– Best Sales Material – Bright Grey

– Best Protection Leader – Steve Payne (Friends Life)

– Nick Crossman Award for Best PR & Marketing – Aviva

– Best Protection Story – Johanna Gornitzki (Mail on Sunday)

– Best Overall Provider – LV=

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