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.”
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."
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.