The necessities and deadlines of magazine publishing mean that I am actually writing this 'welcome b...
The necessities and deadlines of magazine publishing mean that I am actually writing this 'welcome back to the bright New Year' piece before Christmas. Time certainly seems to hurtle along in this game, but it can hardly be different for the protection providers.
Speaking to those providers COVER regularly comes into contact with it is clear that most, if not all, have decided on the products they will be asking you, the intermediary, to focus on over the next 12 months. No prizes for guessing that the flavour of the year among the majority of them will be Income Protection (IP).
To be fair this is an obvious choice. As Legal & General's Diane Buckley notes (interview p.14) the group version of the product has concrete peripheral benefits that fit perfectly with the tough financial times we find ourselves in. The group product remains ludicrously undersold and could be a prime source of income for those advisers selling in the small to medium-sized enterprise sector over the next year. Buckley predicts a focus on the blue collar sector, for example.
As a matter of fact I would bet that employee benefits as a whole are going to be under the spotlight during 2009 as the value of cash plans becomes more apparent, as they always seem to in economic downturns.
It is interesting as one of the protection market's bystanders to watch as the push on IP policies is leading many to reassess their long-held knee-jerk reaction of pairing life and critical illness policies and considering that a job done. Several intermediaries have said to me that, although the general cheapness makes it an obvious option if a client needs life cover, they think the pairing does nowhere near enough in terms of a comprehensive protection cover, both for families and, perhaps more crucially, the ever growing numbers of individuals.
Good news on an otherwise stormy horizon is the growing realisation that life cover without excessive loading is now a realistic option for those infected with the HIV virus. Hannover Re makes a good case this month that the lifespan prognosis for many is not that different from the norm (p.24).
As for the economy, well, you'll get no predictions here.
The news that the ABI and British Medical Association (BMA) agreement on GP report (GPR) fees has broken down will usher in a period of uncertainty.
Lack of innovation investment in the UK insurance market has been highlighted by recognition of RGA's work in the US.
Protection business in 2012 and 2013 will be affected by events this year and some fundamental changes to the way customers policies are priced into the next. Richard Verdin explains.
Employee assistance programmes are in the spotlight due to a schizophrenic approach by government. But as Sue Weir points out, they are backed by solid research.
How will people buy insurance in future? Greg Becker visits the US for developments in online distribution.