Market views: Sexing-up IP

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With take up of sales in income protection (IP) by advisers so low, reflecting in low consumer sales, what could be done to the product to make it more attractive to IFAs, apart from increased commission?

Neil Armitage, Foresters Friendly Society

Education is the starting point. One of the core improvements would be a more flexible and speedier acceptance process with varying degrees of questions. This would mean that, barring extreme circumstances, a client will have their application accepted without having to go backwards and forwards to a doctor for health confirmation caused by over zealous underwriting.

There is a strong case for having a product with a choice of different access levels. For example, full and comprehensive cover targeting a completely healthy individual down to a very basic acceptance level with minimal cover, and different stages in-between, dependent on lifestyle and other factors.

Other different levels of cover could also be dependent on age, lifestyle, profession and so on with different deferred periods and varying benefit payment time.
A reduction in paperwork required in application forms, both for the adviser and client is another major consideration.

There always seems to be a lot of unnecessary and irrelevant questions on application forms which can be very burdensome for the adviser. This can lead to some key pieces of information being missed which can mean it takes longer to get the right level of cover.

Another issue with all types of insurance is the claims process - shortening and simplifying this would make IP more effective and a more attractive proposition for advisers to recommend to their clients.

Paul Doyle, Net Worth Financial Planning

It reminds me of the Monty Python sketch describing the stereotypical accountant as "Drab, awful and boring". Well, that's our old friend IP I'm afraid, I mean, "permanent health insurance".

Is it any wonder that the name alone has IFAs falling asleep at their desks, never mind failing to capture the public's attention towards what, without doubt, is one of the most important pillars in our protection portfolios.

Providers need to carry out a much needed product face lift, raising the its profile in an interesting and appealing way towards IFAs and the public alike. This would resurrect what has become a sterile product which IFAs have largely ignored and transform it to its rightful position as a crucially important product safeguarding the very fabric of our lifestyles.

Bright Grey is a great example of a company who have realised this fact and who lead the way with their fresh and innovative approach. It follows that IFAs promoting Bright Grey's product are more energised and motivated to discuss this vital area with their clients.

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