"One by one, insurers began to recognise the need for support beyond the financial payment and the term value-added service began to appear increasingly."
When I joined the business back in 2006, RedArc was the only value-added service in protection insurance and were seen as very peripheral to the protection industry and viewed by many with scepticism about the motives of insurers who had adopted it.
One by one, insurers began to recognise the need for support beyond the financial payment and the term value-added service began to appear increasingly.
One of the surprising outcomes of The Income Protection Task Force Seven Families initiative was the importance of value-added services. Tracey Clarke said: 'They are one of the many bonuses of income protection insurance that are so valuable above and beyond the financial aspects of such policies.' This is something we regularly hear from the people we support.
Rolling forward to 2023, the protection industry now has access to a wide range of value-added services including GP services, health assessments, physiotherapy, mental health services and personal nurse support. In fact, some form of value-added service is now pretty much a hygiene factor in the UK protection market and many products carry several services.
A good quality value-add service brings a much wider proposition beyond the financial peace of mind. As well as helping customers proactively manage their health and get the right help promptly when they need it, the situations that give rise to claims on protection policies very often mean that customers are at their most vulnerable. Advisers have the opportunity to have a much wider conversation with their clients, demonstrating quality and a range of value rather than purely the price of a promise.
I believe that the growth in value-added services has been a contributing factor in increasing consumer trust, particularly when delivered by doctors or nurses who regularly appear in the top three of the Ipsos Veracity Index, which rates public trust in professions.
With the ever increasing range of value-added services available to insurers, to ensure that those suppliers that are selected do really add value, there are some key factors to consider when choosing who to work with:
• Relevance: The service must be relevant to customers, suitable for their particular personal circumstances. Real value is added when a service is tailored to the specific needs of individuals and flexible to change over time as circumstances and needs change.
• Communication: We often hear that customers don’t know what services they have access to. Insurers and advisers need to regularly communicate with customers to ensure that services are accessed when needed and the full value of the policy is appreciated.
• Connectivity: More and more, insurers are offering a suite of services, which on the face of it sounds great, however there are often problems with this approach. Overlaps between services can be confusing for customers and gaps can leave some customers with nothing suitable. Therefore connectivity and cross-referrals between services supported by triage and signposting is vital to present the customer with a co-ordinated suite of services and ensure they can easily access those they need via a single source.
• Quality measures: It is not always easy to measure the value of support. There is no single benchmark quality measure that applies to all value-added services. However, there are ways to measure the value. Good quality suppliers will publish customer survey results, net promoter score and testimonials. As well as measuring the value provided to the customer, it is also important to know that the service provided is adding value to the insurer – our data over seven years shows that 95% of the people we surveyed said we do.
With value-added services playing such a prominent role within the protection industry, it is important that insurers carefully consider which services and providers to partner with. No longer are support services a peripheral add-on, they are now a vital part of the whole customer experience.