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REVIEW

PROTECTION

Surely advisers aren’t snollygosters? Kevin Carr chief executive, Protection Review; MD, Carr Consulting & Communications; co-chair, Income Protection Task Force

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‘snollygoster’, with thanks to Susie Dent on Twitter, is an individual who is guided by personal gain rather than by principles. As an ex-adviser, I always presume that other advisers are good at what they do, even great. I have an automatic, in-built assumption that advisers only ever do the very best they can for their clients, placing their own, or anyone else’s needs, second at best. I’ve either met, worked with, or trained well over 1,000 advisers over the years, and would consider many to be close friends.

“To weed out occasional bad apples, many insurers have developed data and intelligence systems to closely monitor a range of factors” Within that circle, we are often experts who can argue about the fine details of policy wordings, or the latest controversial issue in the market, often for hours on end. When it comes to clients, the advice from an adviser is always accurate and authentic – and potentially life changing – and many advisers also help the industry to address a range of issues, from improving the customer journey all the way through to paying more claims. I’m sure this is the case for the majority of advisers in the UK protection market, who provide incredibly good levels of service and

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advice to many thousands of people every day. However, it’s not quite always the case. The quality of protection advice in the UK varies across different firms and different types of distribution. There are a few firms – and sometimes individuals within good firms – which sometimes aren’t great, or even good. To weed out these occasional bad apples, many insurers have developed data and intelligence systems to closely monitor a range of factors. In extreme situations, agencies are closed. The early warning signs may include: poor persistency – policies being cancelled in the first few months or years; the volume of early claims; frequent non-disclosure; the business mix across clients and products; and the financial model and commission structure of the business. There are firms which allegedly seek to lead customers into believing they are calling from their existing broker, when they are actually a different company trying to get the customer to switch their cover. There are also those which try to persuade customers to act against their own best interests, while providing a ‘non-advised’ service. Thankfully, such snollygosters are few and far between. M I

NEWS IN BRIEF Premier Choice Group and The Insurance Surgery have joined the Protection Distributors Group, which was set up in 2016 to help adviser firms drive positive change in the protection market. Legal & General paid out a record 43 personal protection claims every day in the UK during 2020, totalling £763.9m – a yearly increase of £32m – and benefitting 15,855 customers and their families. SimplyBiz has launched an online protection hub designed to draw together compliance, training, outsourcing and research support. The Association of British Insurers is hoping to train thousands of advisers on mental health awareness by the end of the year. iPipeline has seen protection sales figures through its adviser platforms increase during the first quarter of 2021, with new business up 10% and like-for-like business rising by 7%. According to the latest figures from The Exeter, COVID-19 was the single most claimed for condition in 2020, representing nearly one-third (32%) of income protection claims. MetLife research found it takes a drastic change, such as illness or accident, before many homeowners consider protection to help with mortgage repayments.

2020 protection sales down

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ccording to the latest report from reinsurer Gen Re, the UK protection market was down by around 8% in 2020, compared to the previous year. The COVID-related slump impacted most product lines in 2020, although term assurance sales remained flat overall, most likely linked to the housing boom fuelled by the stamp duty holiday. Critical illness sales were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, down almost 13%,

while income protection sales – the fastest growing segment of the market prior to 2020 – paint a similar picture, with sales down by 15%. The report also found there was a large initial uptake of policies in March 2020 – up 43% from February – when the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic was arguably at its height, and that it was not unexpected to see volumes drop as the year went on.

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