t last week's Cover Forum John Ritchie, the Ellipse chief executive, commented on panel debate that insurers in the UK are addicted to complexity, is he right?
Well, it is difficult to disagree and looking at those around me I saw nothing but wry smiles and nods of agreement.
But to what extent insurers are complex by choice? Is it purely addiction, or is the industry complex by default?
Is the history and structure of the protection insurance industry so inherently complicated that anything with the so-called (and occasionally mis-used) 'simple' tag is, by default, inferior?
Illness itself is complex and there is very little we can do about that. The structures of life and pensions companies are complex, as is the tax system, both in the UK and overseas.
Competition brings added complications as insurers seek to compete on non-price issues. Financial planning can be complex, and most of all people's lives, and often their needs, can be complex too.
Phil Jeynes of PruProtect said advisers actually need a degree of complexity: "Cancer isn't a simple disease and intermediaries should welcome a degree of complexity as it allows them to demonstrate specialist knowledge when explaining a comprehensive policy."
So, there is a place for complexity, but how simple can we realistically get? The process, without doubt, can be hugely simplified and technology will continue to drive that forward. But what about product design?
Underwriting brings complexity but also keeps costs low for most people. Remove underwriting and invariably the price goes up along with the number of exclusions. Is a more expensive product with more exclusions really better?
Speaking to Alan Lakey who runs CI Expert, he said: "The CI market has numerous different conditions that use almost identical definitions.
"It should not be beyond the wit of an insurer to simply have an over-riding descriptive term that encompasses a number of conditions.
"Likewise the design of IP is madness personified. Think of all the hurdles advisers and applicants must surmount to make sure the application fits and the policy will pay out."
Right now it feels like the market is in a transitional phase with different driving factors pulling insurers in different ways.
Issues such as partial payments, point of sale underwriting, own occupation for IP, generally paying more claims, while keeping things simple, remaining competitive, growing market share and more are challenging them every day.
And it's not just protection of course. It's the whole industry. Pensions, savings, investments... Have they all become too complicated? As someone said to me at the Cover Forum: 'We teach people detail and test them for it to get into our industry, so why are we be surprised when they complicate things with detail. It becomes a vicious circle.'
Roger Edwards, previously of Royal London, agreed: "My conclusion is that we make the propositions more complex purely to gain more share of a market which is declining because it's complex.
"The mechanics of the industry feeds our craving for complexity and stifles the potential success simplicity could bring."
Are all these people right? Is complexity embedded culturally in our industry?
Kevin Carr is chief executive of the Protection Review
From 6 January 2020
Due to Brexit
Main reason MSK
‘Is it normal?’