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Swiss Re cautions on protection price war

‘Industry will fail clients unless holistic approach is adopted to marketing’

The protection industry must adopt a more holistic approach to promote the benefits of its products rather than just compete on price, says Swiss Re.

The reinsurer’s Life & Health Insurance Report – Protection at Any Price? also calls for the sales process to be simplified to help close the protection gap. It warns that not addressing these issues will leave the ind- ustry at risk of failing its customers through ineffective or negligible promotion of its most fundamental products.

The report also challenges advisers as well as providers to monitor the issue of non-disclosure. Although the report commends the industry for making good efforts to tackle non-disclosure, it says there is room for more transparency and easier application forms, coupled with robust sales and underwriting procedures.

The life insurance gap stands at 2.3 trillion sum assured, up from 2.1 trillion in 2003 and 2 trillion in 2002. The income protection gap is estimated at 160bn annual benefit.

The report says a survey of 1,000 consumers shows that two-thirds of people think their finances are well or reasonably positioned in the event of death, disability or long-term illness but research by Combined Insurance 2005 indicates that UK workers only have sufficient savings to cover 18 days’ living costs.

Head of marketing Mark Johnson says: “Consumers do not have a handle as to what kind of cover they have. We found them complacent, confused and disengaged with the industry. Consumers really value face-to-face advice but do not trust advisers and are not willing to pay for advice. It is going to be a real challenge for the industry to overcome this and we need clear communication.

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