Royal London recently announced a major re-branding exercise with the future scrapping of two of its most well-known brand names, Scottish Provident and Bright Grey. Does ‘brand awareness' matter among clients or consumers when it comes to picking a particular insurance policy over another?
John Wilkinson, Aegon UK
There’s no doubt that brand awareness has an impact on consumers when considering protection. Interestingly, our own research indicates that brand has a key role to play in the product selection process for less affluent customers, but is of less importance to the more affluent customers, who are used to using less mainstream companies.
Ultimately, customers want to do business with brands they trust and in the protection industry, a strong brand can be diluted by a lack of trust in paying claims.
Our recent survey into the protection market showed that of those who would consider protection policies, 63% were concerned by whether or how much they would pay out. Among those who would not consider protection policies, 41% wouldn’t trust them to pay out.
This is why we try to be as open and honest about our claims experience by releasing our claims stats each year. In addition to this, we provide as much support to our claimants as possible through our experienced claims team and our tele-claims service during what is likely to be one of the worst times in their lives.”
At Aegon we recognise the value of brand awareness and as lead partner of British Tennis since 2009 we are constantly strengthening our profile and brand among our customers in the UK. During the last five years, British tennis has developed in many ways and the Aegon brand has become better known within our target markets.
Tom Conner, Drewberry Insurance
The simple fact is that people trust brands. Positive brand recognition gives people added peace of mind that the company will behave responsibly and the service will be of good quality. Therefore, as advisers it is easier to sell the products of well-known brands. But if a lesser-known company is more suitable for someone’s specific circumstances, we must help the client buy-in to them.
Indeed, when recommending smaller insurers such as British Friendly for income protection, there is often the need to back-up that recommendation with their claims pay-out track record, which isn’t typically the case with a large brand, like Aviva.
Currently, our own advisers feel less inclined to recommend Scottish Provident or Bright Grey to clients due to a poor experience with their customer service.
Likewise, brands that take a hammering in the media due to declined claims can
also make our advisers less likely to recommend them.
A recent example saw claims being declined on income protection plans written on an ‘activities of daily living’ or ‘work tasks’ basis, which does have an impact on the perception of the brand to both advisers and their clients.
Therefore, for clients to favour an insurer and for advisers to recommend them, it is important for providers to not only build brand awareness, but also back this up with good service to ensure that the entire brand perception is positive.
Maybe this move by Royal London can help on both fronts – so long as the service provided supports the new united brand.
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