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This week in Life and Protection

‘Happy’s the wooing that’s not long a doing’, said Benjamin Franklin which is sound advice for Standard Life still on the look out for a new finance director.

The life office is said to be courting former ScottishPower director David Nish to replace Alison Reed who is leaving this week but other names are in the hat.

Confirmation of who will take over the role is expected this week and the insurer is under increasing pressure to name a successor though it is remaining tight-lipped for now.

The Scottish Widows protection report threw up some interesting albeit worrying facts and figures, namely that even those consumers with protection policies in place have an average financial shortfall of 39 per cent.

Also interesting was the way in which people prioritise their insurance.

ScotWids says top of the pile is car insurance followed by buildings and home insurance. Life insurance comes fourth on the list, with pet’s health higher than people’s own health which finishes a mere seventh place. This is the stuff of nightmares for those in the industry who are passionate about protection and filling the ever growing gap.

In fact the report made for pretty gloomy reading with almost half the households in the UK having less than one month’s salary in savings to fall back on if they lost their income through poor health.

Life cover remains the most popular form of protection with 60 per cent of the UK population holding it despite it being far less likely that you will die than be struck down with a long-term illness. But this fact was not reflected in sales of income protection with only 18 per cent of the population holding an IP policy and 22 per cent of adults with critical illness cover.

Widows says: ‘Just as the UK is faced with a large and growing pension gap, so too is it faced with a large and growing protection gap. However, while those in Government have made great strides in tackling the pensions system, there has been much less attention to date given to the protection shortfall.’

This is an important point and the government should take note. Especially as the research also shows that 29 per cent of people will rely on the state for their income if they are unable to work for more than six months. The warnings to consumers that they should not rely on the state do not seem to be getting through.

Bright Grey has taken the eminently sensible step of extending the maximum term of its life and critical illness cover from 25 years up to 40 years.

The move is being welcomed by mortgage brokers who have been getting increasingly frustrated by writing 35 or 40 year mortgages which can only be covered for 25 years.

Those providers that do not already offer these maximum terms would do well to seriously consider extending their policies in the future as rising house prices and struggling first time buyers mean the length of mortgage terms will only be going one way – and it is not down.

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