Insurers need to act now on their failure to "engage adequately" with customers about gender neutralisation, an insight agency research has warned.
BDRC Continental consumer analysis on the EU Gender Directive impact has shown a perceived lack of information from insurers and a belief that the legislation will be used as an excuse to charge higher premiums; only 3% of consumers recalled communication on the topic from their insurers.
More than half said the industry had done "a poor job" of explaining which products were likely to be affected yet 60% were keen to know more about the EU Gender Directive and what it means for them.
A third said they would accept less cover as an alternative approach to making post G-Day insurance policies more affordable.
The finding also showed half planned to shop around at the time of renewal and 46% were going to increase their use of comparison sites.
And according to BDRC, the Directive changes offered niche insurance providers an opportunity to widen their appeal as 47% of consumers said they would be willing to use a provider they had never heard of before.
BDRC Continental stated: "While this may be good news for the aggregators and insurance brokers, it has an obvious impact for brands that do not feature on price comparison sites.
"It also adds to the impression that insurance is a commodity, failing to take account of key differentiators such as policy provision, service level, brand values and experience."
The research showed an increasing prominence on customer service as a third of consumers said they expected "great customer service" if they were paying higher premiums.
Caroline Ahmed, director at BDRC Continental, said: "Consumers have little faith that the insurance industry will use the introduction of the EU Gender Directive with integrity - sadly many see it as an opportunity to simply charge them higher premiums.
"The lack of information on the Directive sent direct to customers by insurers may be one contributing factor that has added to the lack of trust highlighted here between consumers and insurers."
She added the money-saving tactics consumers planned to exercise suggested the industry had failed to engage adequately with customers before G-Day.
But she said there was still time to turn the failure into an opportunity to be transparent and open about the legislation and its impact on consumers.
Consumers considered life insurance to be the second most affected by G-Day after car insurance.
BDRC said: "This demonstrates an impact for life cover that isn't wholly unexpected by consumers, however it also further highlights the need for communication in this part of the market.
"Without clear and transparent information, consumers will naturally assume the directive focuses on motor products and may remain unaware of how they could be affected in other areas."
Verbatim comments from the analysis respondents focussed pre-dominantly on car insurance, with little awareness of life cover, including:
- "It was supposed to level out price discrimination between male and female as in motor insurance however it's been seized on to further hike insurance premiums."
- "It is proven that young men have the most accidents. Despite this women will find they have to pay more for their car insurance. Not fair."
- "That insurance companies cannot use gender information to set premiums. So cannot take into account that more young men have car accidents or women tend to live longer."
- "Women and Men are treated equally when it comes to things like the cost of car insurance, so women will pay as much as men even though they are less of a risk"
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