Time to look beyond price

16 August 2016
In the past the protection insurance sector wasn’t known for innovation, embracing technology or making the most of digital capabilities. But we’re gradually seeing this changing in the form of some game-changing FinTech companies, such as the re-insurer backed start-up UnderwriteMe.

Royal London was one of the first providers in the UK to start using this platform, which lets insurers retain their underwriting rules and products whilst letting advisers and customers compare costs from a range of insurers. This enables them to get quotes and select the product they want to buy in a simple end-to-end process.

By setting realistic expectations of premiums and giving them underwriting decisions up-front, systems like UnderwriteMe are set to significantly improve the customer journey – for both advisers and their clients.

A major aspect of this new way of underwriting that’s very close to my heart is that customers can see the value and benefits that sit behind each proposition. So rather than choosing on price alone, customers can compare products based on added value benefits. We’ve been operating in a market that’s been predominately price driven for years so it’s great news to see this kind of progress.

Focusing on client needs

Of course affordability will always be important. But shouldn’t the initial focus be on what clients can’t afford to be without when it comes to making a claim, rather than what they can afford now? With continued pressure on the financial services industry to ensure quality of advice, products that come with additional added value benefits shouldn’t be ignored.

Currently, added value services are often seen as an afterthought with the main message still being very much about the financial benefit.  But someone coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis will be feeling numb, speechless and in desperate need of some emotional support. Money, although a crucial consideration going forward, is one of the last things likely to spring to mind when digesting the idea that they could actually be paying the ultimate price. Indeed, in our experience it’s not uncommon for plan holders to take a few weeks to come to terms with their situation before they even get around to contacting us to make a claim.

With changes in NHS legislation and budget cuts being felt in primary care trusts, more and more people are being forced to wait or look for help elsewhere. If a protection product additional benefit is available that automatically offers impartial support and advice that addresses these needs as part of the plan, then why not embrace it?

Support you can’t put a price on

Our Helping Hand service provides access to a personal nurse adviser, a second medical opinion, complementary therapies to assist recovery and access to personal, legal and medical helplines as well as bereavement counselling. The depth of services available provides access to all the counselling and helpline services you'd expect but, more importantly, it's designed to help people recover. It’s available as soon as someone takes out a plan and they don’t need to claim to use the service.

Interestingly, some claimants have said they value their nurse advisers primarily just as someone to talk to at a difficult time. But, regardless of the way in which they feel they have most benefited, one comment Helping Hand users consistently volunteer is that they ‘simply cannot put a price’ on the support they received. Indeed, many of our claimants that have used the service told us that they value this more than the pay-out they received. So perhaps it’s time to look beyond the price and give clients cover that counts. And that means not just supporting them financially at their time of need, but emotionally too. 

Showing the value of your advice

When survival rates are constantly improving due to advances in medical science, helping clients on the road to recovery is another way for you to show the value of your service. It also shows you have fully considered your clients’ financial and emotional needs, emphasising the value of buying protection with advice. 

Many advisers would argue they already take a holistic approach to protection, but given the complexity of products and the frequent changes in definitions, advisers are often forced to return to price as the selection criteria. But I believe innovative technology is set to change that.  

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Last updated: 16 Aug 2016

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The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.