So we heard from British Friendly recently that income protection (IP) sales are not benefiting from the gender change opportunity. Advisers have reported similar, but that life is tracking the opposite trend.
What exactly is the problem with IP? It's so under-sold that not even the G-day momentum can encourage it. Given that our everyday lifestyle as we know it depends entirely on our pay packet, it would seem, and in a common-sense way, like a product to prioritise.
There is always a lot of noise in the industry about the desperate need for IP innovation. But with a wide spectrum of existing products in the market place, this surely cannot be the real issue.
Cost is another drum that gets banged often. Yet, the product is not that expensive. And by this, I mean it is nowhere near the £50-a-month that consumer's generally perceive the cost to be (as reported by PruProtect at this year's COVER Forum).
In any case, if cost really was the issue, then pushing the price-factor pre-gender hikes would mean sales going somewhere north. But as many have reported, this is simply not the case.
What one advice firm has said however, is that it saw a 50% to 60% increase in IP sales this year from building client awareness of the welfare reforms instead.
It all points to a need for consumer understanding of product value as opposed to a pressing need for revamped products. But as I said earlier, isn't the concept fairly common sense? Which familiarly brings the argument full, vicious circle to - are products too complicated and do they need changing?
What we have seen in the recent consultation on the Review of Simple Financial Products are the problems in trying to strip IP products down. It could very well result in looser underwriting and therefore spiking prices. Is this the message we want to kitemark? The simple, digestible IP product to fill more basic needs but at a higher price?
And it will take a very special provider indeed to conjure up this so-called simple IP product by the February deadline; not least given the complexities of fitting the product to individuals' existing benefits.
I tend to think - let's just get away from messing around with products. We already have lots of IP products. Yes, the industry needs to keep a sharp eye on grey areas like own occupation versus activities of daily living, but arguably there are bigger fish to fry in the IP piece than product innovation.
Are there really any legs in pushing the price factor and getting bogged down in the nitty gritty of products? The evidence suggests not.
This energy could arguably be better spent on communicating the simple concept of IP and shaping it into something approaching a social norm.
This would seem fairly straightforward for advisers to achieve with trusted clients and evidently can be very effective.
And there is a massively unique selling point to leverage. We are in high times of unemployment and brutal welfare reforms that could leave people with nothing. Now more than ever is the time to start building this awareness piece.
But the adviser alone cannot make waves. Advisers have reported a lot of client confusion about IP and only a quarter believe it is their job to educate consumers, according to Cirencester's recent adviser survey. The majority reckoned it was up to government and industry-led campaigns to push the issue.
Convincing the government to get involved would be an unrealistic goal, at least for the short term; but a combined, prioritised industry and adviser effort on awareness of the state benefits system, unemployment and the value of IP is not.
Short-term and long-term income protection
Among other initiatives
Adam Higgs assesses the IP options available to renters