How do lived experiences help Gen Z recognise the importance of protection?

Victoria Harrison, Protection Proposition Manager at Scottish Widows, discusses how lived experiences can help Gen Z recognise the importance of protection after a family member’s devastating diagnoses motivated her 18-year-old daughter to purchase Critical Illness cover (CIC).

Related topics:  Gen Z,  Lived Experiences
Victoria & Charlotte Harrison
9th November 2023
Vikki & Charlotte Harrison
"More people should be talking to my age group about protection and how it can give you a Plan B when you need it most. "
- Charlotte Harrison, 18-year-old NHS apprentice

This year my daughter turned 18…how did that happen?

As Charlotte has become more independent, I’ve seen how she and her friends make decisions. They will regularly turn to friends or family to ask for advice and frequently use Google reviews for recommendations, whether that’s to find the next series to binge on Netflix, or the latest TikTok trend. Word of mouth and recommendations are more valued than adverts when making life decisions.

But how important are lived experiences?

Lived experiences impact our choices, thoughts, feelings, and personal views even if we don’t recognise it at the time. Understanding Gen Z’s lived experiences can help us interpret both their behaviour and how they make decisions.

Broadly speaking, Gen Z were born between 1996 and 2012; they’re primarily the children of Gen X parents like me. Fast-forward to 2023, many of them are making their way out of school and into adult life.

Gen Z’s lived experiences influence how they view and react to the world around them; this includes their views on insurance. Recently I highlighted that Gen Z tend to value financial stability derived from their desire for a sense of safety.

READ MORE: Improving financial resilience and engaging with Gen Z on their protection needs

However, despite the wealth of reviews and opinions online, Gen Z still seek reassurance that the decision they’ve made is the right one. For example, Charlotte will often validate decisions with people she knows have already had that experience to guarantee she’s making the right choice.

According to SCOR’s Digital Solutions subsidiary ReMark’s latest report, 35% of Gen Z purchased policies based on ‘good online reviews,’ ahead of price (31%), and an established brand name (12%). When purchasing protection, 29% searched for advice online beforehand and 24% decided to purchase their most recent life or health product after a personal recommendation.

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

When Charlotte first asked me whether she should purchase Life and Critical Illness cover (CIC) at 18 years old, I was over the moon that she was thinking about such important products. But, at the same time, I worried she didn’t understand why she needed protection in the first place.

Then she explained how she’d come to the decision.

After finishing school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Most of my friends knew they wanted to do A Levels and go to university, but that wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to help people, so I went to an Apprenticeship Fair and spoke with a few colleges about different routes. That’s when I found out about NHS apprenticeships which would allow me to work, learn, and start earning a wage. I’d finally found something I was excited to do.

Now, I work in a local GP surgery studying business administration. It’s my job to book appointments and surgeries as well as provide GP evidence to insurers when people make a claim on their policy. I also speak to patients sat on waiting lists for further treatment so I know first-hand how illness can affect people’s lives.

I still can’t believe just how many people have serious illnesses that have led to unemployment or difficulty managing everyday activities.

With my own bills to pay, it made me think, what if I couldn’t work? I know my parents would help, but what happens when I want to move out?

While I was working at home during lockdown, I would always hear my mum talking about protection, “You’re never more insurable than you are today,” she’d say. But it wasn’t until my grandad was diagnosed with Encephalitis a couple of years ago, and last year with Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s at the age of 64 that I considered purchasing protection.

Luckily my grandad had CIC which helped pay for some extra rehabilitation and living costs. This meant my grandma could be with him when he needed her, and their financial worries were taken care of – she’d given up work to care for him as he was no longer able to do a lot of things for himself.

Then my friend was diagnosed with cancer. He’s been so brave, but the chemotherapy and hospital visits are hard on him. We still meet up for a few hours at a time, but those outings aren’t cheap; he relies on his mum and us to be able to come.

That’s when I decided to look at CIC for myself, in case I got too poorly to work.

I want to keep my independence, my car, and still afford to go out with friends, so I decided to take out a small amount of CIC in case the worst happens. As my apprenticeship continues, I might look at Income Protection (IP), but for now CIC is quite easy to understand and it’s cheap at my age.

Young people are often considered inexperienced, but that’s not true. Lived experiences help us make decisions, and they shape the way we think about the world around us.

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