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The spotlight is on Norwich Union

I’m sure you’re all eagerly anticipating Chancellor Darling’s Pre-Budget Report, due to be delivered hand in hand with the Comprehensive Spending Review at 3.45pm today, but first take some time out to get on top of this week’s protection news.

I don’t usually like to just talk about one firm but Norwich Union has provided me with enough subject matter to get on with this week. The firm is in the spotlight because it is set to completely overhaul its protection range in a bid to better meet consumer needs.

NU will kick-off the restructure in October with around 70 in depth consumer and adviser interviews aimed at determining what consumers actually need from a protection product and why many drop off during the application process. It will then generate ideas from the research which it will test among consumers.

The process, which NU has used in the past to overhaul its investment and post-retirement offerings, should take around four months. Its current range will be scrapped and the new range is expected to launch in early to mid-2008. Norwich Union director of risk products Willie Mowatt says: “We are starting from a clean sheet of paper.”

Money Marketing also revealed this week that Norwich Union is researching a protection product which is guaranteed to pay out. The product would require more intense underwriting which may lengthen the application process and bump up the cost but the firm suspects many consumers would do a lot for the peace of mind that their claim won’t be declined for non-disclosure.

NU is testing the concept on its online customer forum this week. Lifesearch has been campaigning for such a product claiming it would instill consumer confidence in the industry but critics believe a guaranteed product could confuse consumers as it suggests non-guaranteed products are a gamble.

And last but not least the firm of the week has been grabbing my attention, and possibly yours too, on the television. Yep, that’s right, NU has begun advertising life insurance on TV with a message along the lines of “we can’t make you immortal but we can protect you.” This is a really positive move, even if it does make me think of work when I’m vegging out on the couch, and has surely got to improve awareness and motivate more people to buy protection.

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