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Roy McLoughlin: Tackling the ‘it won’t happen to me’ brigade

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Our beloved industry takes its fair share of knocks. Talk to any decent adviser and one subject that always arises is that of an actual claim.

Due to our rapidly advancing average age many advisers have had several illness or death claims throughout our careers. The overriding discussion then turns to how important the products that we passionately advise on are. It’s no exaggeration to say that we unequivocally affect people’s lives when disaster strikes.

From the very start we tend to be the first person a family will turn to. First to help them claim, which for many on death is just something that they understandably do not wish to deal with.

However as the weeks pass many of us will help out in many other ways sorting out our clients’ financial affairs so that they may be left to mourn and deal with the emotional rollercoaster that death and serious illness bring.

Life cover will never obviously replace someone but to have a substantial cheque arrive within a week or two makes a huge difference to many. Equally a rapid critical illness insurance or income protection payout means clients can start planning their readjusted lives straight away.

Suddenly our worth becomes very important and I am sure all of us have had tremendous feedback in these situations. Nearly as important though is how it makes us feel about ourselves, and suddenly all those pointed and unfair wisecracks about our profession don’t seem so relevant anymore?

It could happen to you

I tell many of my clients to put my business card in with their will, together with this summary of all of their policies I have prepared. It seems to be a very well received but incredibly sensible solution and many solicitors have backed this up.

Ask your clients, who apart from them knows what policies they hold and where they are to be found? Many couples then laugh commenting that they don’t even know where some of each other’s information is.

Strike a chord?

It is also an idea to add mortgages and bank accounts, premium bonds etc to this list as paper records are not the easiest to track down. Why not put your fact fund summary page in with the will too?

It is vital we tell these stories and discussions about our clients‘ actual claims go a long way to dispel the “it won’t happen to me” brigade.

If we advisers are doing it, who else should be?

And so I return – without apology – to an old, but nevertheless crucial, subject. Case studies. Or more importantly, the lack of them.

Why do we not publish these stories? The finger here points, I’m afraid, at many insurers. It’s by far their best sales tool, so why do they not use it?

As an industry we seem to be very good at telling the public how much we pay out and that is great news. We publish regular claims stats which, largely, make great reading. So why not be more specific? I am aware not all people like their stories being publicised and many publications prefer a picture of said claimants. But let’s not keep hiding behind this somewhat tedious excuse for the thousands and thousands of claims that are paid out every day.

Steve Casey once told me that he personally tries to call on every claim. Surely others have the resource to do this? If you haven’t, you should, because people take out insurance in good faith that it will pay out.

Let’s reinforce the positive message that it does because I’m sure there are many financial journalists that would thrive on these real life stories.

Roy McLoughlin is partner at Master Adviser

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