Editor’s Choice: How many ‘P’s did we achieve in 2023?

Since joining the industry, I’ve noticed the protection space prioritises what I’ve lovingly branded, the 5 ‘P’s: ‘Products’, ‘Perception’, ‘Prevention’, ‘Protest’, and ‘Progress’. But how many ‘P’s did we achieve in 2023?

Related topics:  2023,  Review
Tabitha Lambie | Editor, Protection Reporter
27th December 2023
Top 10

Although the UK protection market has often been labelled ‘slow’, 2023 saw breakthrough integrations, upgraded offerings, and improved underwriting with Consumer Duty kicking ‘fair value’ back into the spotlight.

In February, Vitality announced changes to both its Serious Illness Cover and Income Protection (IP) products after documenting “immense complexity following the Pandemic and Cost-of-Living Crisis.” Alan Lakey, Founder of CIExpert, said these improvements were “very welcome because it's taking plans into a simpler format.”

10 Vitality continues to provide “immediate tangible value” with simplified Serious Illness and Income Protection products

Next up, I spoke with university students involved with the #StopEACOP protest outside Marsh McLennan’s London offices. Emma de Saram, Exeter student and climate justice activist, said insurance companies have a “huge role to play in revoking their support of these destructive projects for profit."

9 University students involved in #StopEACOP fight against Marsh McLennan

Later that month, CIExpert launched its IP Insight Zone to provide advisers with easy access to information on all aspects of IP. Speaking with Alan Lakey, he said the aim is to eventually include every insurer’s range of plans.

8 Alan Lakey: Income Protection popularity still doesn’t compare to Life & Critical Illness

Following the launch of t+1, I spoke with Katie Crook-Davies, Managing Director at Tabei, about the new actuarial projection model. She said the motivation behind the model was a “desire to do better” and to encourage the industry to “design new propositions in different kinds of ways that work for more customers.”

7 t+1: “Enabling change, enabling innovation”

In September, Zurich Insurance announced the launch of its enhanced Critical Illness (CI) proposition, offering policyholders more flexibility with its improved ‘modular’ approach. Louise Colley, Director of Retail Protection at Zurich, explained that its new three-tier offering means customers can add or remove elements of cover to reflect different stages of life.  

6 Zurich set to have a “significant impact on the market” with new Critical Illness proposition

In August 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published its expectations for the Life Insurance sector, setting out its view on key risks and its supervisory strategy. Since then, it has written numerous letters to life insurers emphasising the importance that the sector “meets the standards we expect to support customers, including those in financial difficulty.”

Responding to the FCA’s latest letter on behalf of the Protection Distributors Group (PDG), Neil McCarthy said it “welcomes the FCA’s clarification” but, as protection retailers, the PDG asks for “specific clarity as to what the FCA wants to improve in terms of consumer outcomes in protection.”

5 PDG requests clarity for protection market after FCA warning not to treat Consumer Duty as a “compliance exercise”

In September, I attended Guardian’s #LifeUnited2023 fundraiser to hear about the latest Young Lives vs Cancer research, sponsored by the insurer. This research found that young cancer patients and their families are facing significant monthly costs, averaging £691, to receive life-saving treatment. But before cancer treatment can begin, young cancer patients and their families have to fight to receive a diagnosis.

I spoke to Alex, a 20-year-old student studying at Lancaster University, about having to advocate for herself after being told she was too young to have cancer.

4 The doctors said it was “impossible” but here I am with pancreatic cancer at 20 years old

This year’s ReMark Global Consumer Study found only 46% of young people have a good understanding of Life and Health Insurance products which has led to 35% purchasing policies based on ‘good online reviews’.

I spoke to Elizabeth Train-Brown (23 years old), Prugna Kerai (21 years old), and Victoria Elen Drave Leung (20 years old) to find out if they thought Life and CI policies were important for young people.

3 Gen Z ask why insurance is important when “most of us are broke and don’t have families of our own to support”

In October, CIExpert integrated with UnderwriteMe’s Protection Platform, creating a protection journey that quantifies both quality and cost of Critical Illness Cover (CIC). Phil Nash, Director of Sales at UnderwriteMe, said this integration creates a “unique proposition by providing the ability to quickly and seamlessly obtain fully underwritten premiums alongside a CIExpert product comparison report.”

2 CIExpert and UnderwriteMe’s Protection Platform launch breakthrough integration

Finally, just before we head into 2024, Royal London announced improved, changed, and added definitions to its CI offering, widening coverage and scope for claims. Jennifer Gilchrist, Protection Expert at Royal London, said these changes were driven by an analysis of claim experiences to help deliver the “best possible outcomes for customers.”

1 Royal London “treads new ground” with upgraded Critical Illness offering

Overall, I’d say we’ve achieved all the ‘P’s this year, but don’t forget, these aren’t ‘one-and-done’ goals. Here’s to yet more breakthrough integrations, upgraded offerings, and improved underwriting in 2024.

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