LV= has big plans for 2012. Paul Robertson interviews one of the industry's most prominent Welshmen, Mark Jones.
Times may be hard, and industry sales figures uninspiring but at LV= things are afoot. The mutual had a decent 2011 but intends to ramp up its protection offering quite dramatically over this year. According to Mark Jones, head of protection at LV=, it will be starting with critical illness (CI).
It was at the end of last February that LV= last updated its CI product, prior to that, according to Jones, it was “pretty run of the mill”.
He explained: “On the back of the changes we made then, we saw much better growth. We actually started selling through distributors we hadn’t sold through before. So the strategy for CI going forward is to bring that product to the same level of quality as the income protection (IP) one. We’re very comfortable with the IP product, which is at the top of the market. The intention is CI will sit alongside that and be of an equal level of quality.”
The estimated launch of the new range is around March, with details currently being finalised.
Later in the summer, the spotlight will once again focus on IP as it in turn comes in for a possible upgrade. Jones said: “As I say, we’re really proud of where our IP plan is, but there is a responsibility that comes with being a market leader and I think you go backwards if you don’t go forwards, so at that point we’ll be looking to again improve.
“I can’t say too much at the moment but it will improve the coverage of the target areas that we go for. And again, just improve a little bit more in quality again.”
Of course LV= is not alone in evaluating products and market position. This is a busy year in regulatory terms and there are certain to be changes in distribution over the following 12 months.
In many ways insurers are like swimming ducks, serene on the surface but paddling like mad below as they ponder the big one: market share. Market position is also growing in importance as very soon there will be a range of product types within a category. To take CI as an example, there will be a simple product CI, probably a complex CI, and the standard one in the middle as it were.
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