Simple products to go ahead without IP? - Swiss Re

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Establishing a clear income replacement proposition in time for February's final Review of Simple Financial Products could be "unlikely", Swiss Re has said.

The reinsurer is confident that the report's proposed income replacement product is possible.

But it added initially the suite of other products could go ahead without the income protection (IP)-style product to allow more development time.

Ron Wheatcroft, technical manager at Swiss re, said: "Initially the products could go ahead without the income protection-style product but we would hope to see a continuation of the work on it.

"I do not know if it will be ready for February. A number of people in the industry are keen for something to happen with it but we need to make sure it is right and all the reasoned arguments are made. It could be unlikely the product will not be ready by the proposed February final report."

The reinsurer said the complexities of the IP-esque product, particularly around complicated state benefits, was the main issue and saw scope in workplace distribution.

"Linking up to the workplace means there would be a common set of employment terms," Wheatcroft said.

"And one of the trends we have reported on is the real shift in the employee benefits market and the take up of protection through the workplace has been increasing."

Wheatcroft added Swiss Re was cautious about naming it income protection as sales of IP were struggling currently. But he added that industry product labelling was very difficult.

"The labelling of products in the industry is terrible and people do not understand what the different names mean," he said.

Wheatcroft hosted a simple products workshop at a Protect event last Friday attended by advisers and industry bods.

Attendees of the event agreed that if the protection product was not included in the suite of products then the report's limited ambition would be hard to dispute.

Main concerns seemed to be about complexities with the IP-style proposals particularly around complicated state benefits.

Attendees also questioned whether unemployment should be included given many consumers perceived it to be a main risk.

Steve Devine, chairman of Protect, said: "With the consultation ending 12 October, I would urge all the stakeholders in the protection insurance markets to engage with this consultation and submit a response."

Simple term life insurance, income replacement, an easy access savings account and a 30 day notice account were proposed in the independent steering group report led by Carol Sergeant to encourage consumer engagement with the industry.

The group, set up by the government, published the initial recommendations entitled Review of Simple Financial Products on 2 August. The final report following the current consultation period is expected in February.

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