Guy Williams reviews the innovations in protection technology launched during 2014.
Personally, I'm pleased that over the last year we have made progress in raising the profile of e-signatures and explaining how important it is within financial services to make this technological shift, especially to help advisers.
For a typical UK consumer hoping to buy protection the otherwise slick purchasing process comes apart when they are asked for consent by the insurer to access medical records.
The customer then has to wait for a few days until a letter arrives, probably then waits a few more days, signs it, finds a stamp and then head off to the nearest letterbox to catch the post.
However, the problem is that it is at this point that they may either put the form in a draw and forget about it for a long time, or simply not bother and drop out of the process.
E-signatures can remedy this problem and in 2014 we moved in the right direction despite some resistance to change. However, it's not only e-signatures that have made news.
Technology is changing financial services for the better. Here are a few of, in my opinion, the best innovations over the last year:
F&TRC QA launched its Quality Analyser tool during 2014. This is a free online service for advisers to help them make an informed decision based on the individual client needs and priorities.
It allows the adviser to prioritise and weight different features and then create a detailed graphical analysis of the relevant product.
It is produced together with a client report summarising the detail of the selected features of those products that score most strongly in the comparison and includes the option to add the insurer's precise policy wordings as part of the client report.
Meanwhile, CI Expert, which is an online adviser site for comparing critical illness products, upgraded and improved its offering.
In Q4 IFA Compliance, network Mortgage Intelligence and distributor Mortgage Intelligence all adopted CI Expert for its members.
In November CI Expert announced enhancements including the addition of four past providers to the database, meaning advisers can analyse 40 providers with over 250 policies when re-broking an existing critical illness policy.
Another well-received piece of technology is LV's Risk Reality calculator. Launched just over a year ago, it asks individuals to input information including their age, gender, whether they smoke or not and the year when they hope to retire.
It then calculates the chances of them or their partner being diagnosed with a serious illness, dying unexpectedly or being off work for a few months due to illness.
It won Innovative Product of the Year at the Cover Awards in October and has received positive feedback from advisers.
And finally onto an adviser firm. Drewberry Insurance launched an online Family Insurance Tool for the public in June.
The form asks visitors to the site to answer a few simple questions about their specific circumstances and the results that are generated provide recommendations on the most appropriate type and level of cover based on important financial risk factors.
The system also offers guidance on the range of most suitable insurance options available.
So those are four of the best in my opinion, but there are many other initiatives that have launched in the recent past.
Protection is innovating and technology is, inevitably, changing the face of the industry for the better.
We just need to be confident enough to embrace it sooner rather than later.
Guy Williams, director at LISS Systems
We caught up with Hayley Grimshaw at COVER Excellence Awards 2018
We caught up with Katya Maclean at this year's Excellence Awards
New entry process
'A small number of people lie on their insurance applications'