The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries (AMI), Protection Distributors Group (PDG) and the Income Protection Taskforce (IPTF) are to explore ways of encouraging more advisers who have claimed on a critical illness (CI) policy to act as ‘protection ambassadors’.
The idea was discussed at an in person protection workshop which was held as part of AMI’s commitment in its 2022 AMI Viewpoint five point plan to develop thoughts on how the protection industry can tackle barriers highlighted by its Viewpoint market research.
Participants included individuals from AMI member firms, Legal & General and Royal London (Viewpoint sponsors) and the Income Protection Taskforce (IPTF) and Protection Distributors Group (PDG).
According to AMI documents about the workshop, participants considered that there may be advisers that have claimed on a critical illness policy and helped create case studies.
AMI, PDG and IPTF committed to consider work in this area, adding that while there are more and more stories being shared on social media, which was a positive, the industry needs to look into encouraging more advisers to share their stories.
Going into workplaces
Among other ideas discussed was a commitment for the three bodies to consider what work could be done in terms of firms going into workplaces to discuss protection with their staff. The idea would be that this may help engagement, particularly with younger consumers who may not consider a need for protection when they come out of education and start their first job.
One idea put forward was to invite individuals from the industry who are experiencing success to talk about their approach, such as through ‘lunch and learn’ sessions in businesses.
It was also agreed that there was an opportunity to review and update AMI, the PDG and the Protection Review’s 2021 non-commercial consumer facing leaflet What should I know? which explains the main protection products, what it is they do and the different routes to buying cover.
Protection risk disclaimers
And touching on protection risk disclaimers, participants agreed that that they need to be mindful of their use particularly in light of Consumer Duty.
AMI said it felt this type of disclaimer is unlikely to provide sufficient evidence that a firm is acting to deliver good consumer outcomes. It added the focus should be on the quality of protection conversations and how a firm can evidence these conversations have taken place.
Stacy Penn, senior policy adviser at AMI, (pictured) said: “The Five Point Plan was a key part of last year’s protection Viewpoint and, nearly eight months on, we wanted to provide a progress update to the wider industry. The ideas document released today is one area of this work and is designed to spark new ways of thinking and generate discussion within firms.
“AMI has a list of action points from the workshop and looks forward to working with other industry stakeholders to help shift the dial in the protection space.”
Julie Godley, director of intermediary at Legal & General Retail, said: “Following the release of the Five Point Plan, we have continued to listen to our intermediary partners and coupled this with a willingness to take action to ensure we provide the best service, processes and solutions.
“Specifically, our customer experience and optimisation teams have researched specific pain points and this is driving change. As a result, we have updated the functionality of our systems, made cancellation on behalf of a customer easier and streamlined reinstatement processes. We also appreciate that this is a continuous conversation and have a dedicated mailbox for advisers to send us their ideas and feedback.
“When it comes to supporting adviser confidence, we launched Partner First Service which provides dedicated teams for advisers to speak to about their new and existing business. We also have an extensive pre-sale underwriting proposition offering support for application enquiries to help provide advisers confidence around cases with, potentially complex medical disclosures,” she said.
Jennifer Gilchrist, protection specialist at Royal London, said: “AMI’s Viewpoint report, ‘The Great Protection Shift’, is a great way of challenging the industry to continually seek ways to improve processes, adapt and showcase the industry in the best way possible.
“The implementation of Consumer Duty will help to shift the dial by including protection as part of the holistic advice conversation – ultimately enhancing its profile. As part of that we’ll also see greater emphasis on often overlooked elements like writing policies in trust and the completion of beneficiary nomination forms – all of which will help increase confidence in the industry.
“Since the publication of AMI’s Five Point Plan, we’ve continued to listen to advisers and provide support in areas that they said they would appreciate it most. One of those areas is understanding the power of claims statistics and case studies that bring to life what we strive to do on a day to day basis – supporting clients when they need it most. There is no better way of demonstrating the power of protection than by showcasing the benefits of what we do through real-life customer outcomes.”
Neil McCarthy, chairman at Protection Distributors Group (PDG), said: “The PDG will be working with AMI on some of the key themes identified in their recent workshop, particularly regarding increasing the awareness of protection value to consumers and improving consumer outcomes and experiences in the claims and underwriting areas.”
Jo Miller, co-chairwoman at Income Protection Task Force (IPTF) said: “IPTF was delighted to be asked to attend AMI’s protection workshop. Great things happen when we see collaboration across the industry and it’s encouraging to see the alignment of values and focus from AMI, IPTF and PDG. With such a focus on improving consumer outcomes and getting more people the protection they need, we are certain that we will see positive results.”