Valuable in-depth opinion and expertise to make you think differently
May 2022 - Collated by Andy Couchman
Product Development Special Edition - Past, Present and Future
Product design and product reviews are two issues that affect us every single day, yet we seldom give them much thought – other than to praise or criticise where that’s due.
In this issue of Big Read, as guest editor, I wanted to get behind the processes and, working with the rest of the team at Protection Review, we asked a few of our key industry contacts for their contributions to the debate. I’m delighted with the results and hope you will be too.
Holloway Friendly’s founder George Holloway not only established the friendly society, but he also was the founder of what we now know as long term income protection. Holloway remains an IP specialist and, as a relatively small provider, has to do things differently. Martin Sincup’s insights on their product development process make fascinating reading.
Contrast that with the views of Jennifer Gilchrist of Royal London. Her company is one of the giants of the industry, so its perspective is different. It is also one of the more innovative insurers and covers more product types, so Jennifer’s insights again make fascinating reading.
Reinsurance is an important partner to protection insurers in so many ways and Kuen Chik of Pacific Life Re explains how reinsurers support their clients. Reinsurance is an odd fish, inasmuch as its customers are the insurers, not the end customer. How does that affect their approach to product design?
Although insurers do deal direct with their customers, most protection business comes through intermediaries, so how involved are intermediaries in the process?
Added value benefits are a key element of pretty much every new or updated product or service these days (and quite right too!) and Jo Throp of Krysalis gives her angles on the issues for them.
Finally, we needed an adviser’s view and who better to give that than Alan Lakey. Best known to many as the guy behind CIExpert, he’s much more than that and his views should make us all sit up and take note.
Finally – I’ve added a couple of sections myself. So, we end this Big Read with a brief history of product reviews in our sector. Protection Review team members have played a key part in that for almost 30 years and we continue to provide what we hope and believe are valuable views about new and updated products.
But first up is maybe an indulgence on my part – but bear with me. I came into this wonderful industry of ours more than 50 years ago and have been involved in product design for most of that time, and have enjoyed some successes too. So, you might expect rose-tinted glasses when it comes to how we used to design products.
Not so. Product design these days is much more complex and sophisticated, the care and attention to detail is better than ever and the regulator constantly hovers to keep us on the straight and narrow – and rightly so. Today’s buyers of protection get better value, better benefits and are better looked after than ever.
But nothing is ever perfect and that’s one reason why Protection Review continues to monitor, review and comment on what’s happening. You may not always agree with us, or may think we go too far or not far enough, but one essential element is debate and that’s something we’ve tried to encourage since Peter Le Beau and I set up Protection Review back in 2003. I hope you enjoy this latest edition of Big Read.
- The Good Ol’ Days? Er, No! - Andy Couchman, Protection Review
- From the Original to Today - Martin Sincup, Holloway Friendly
- The Creative Art of Protection - Jennifer Gilchrist, Royal London
- Reassured by Reinsurance - Kuen Chik, Pacific Life Re
- Let the Adviser Advise - Alan Lakey, CIExpert
- Money and Marbles - Jo Throp, Krysalis
- A Brief History of… Product Reviews - Andy Couchman, Protection Review
January 2022 - Collated by Roger Edwards
Reflections on the topics and issues raised at the 2021 Protection Review Conference
In December 2021 we were back at The Landmark London Hotel for our first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. We were humbled by the feedback you sent us about the quality of the day and the range of topics covered. For this edition of the Big Read we asked people who attended the conference to give us their reactions and reflections to the issues they heard about on the day. It's a fascinating collection of views and a reminder of the quality of the talks and panel debates we experienced at the conference.
- Avoiding negativity and building customer trust - Charlotte Nixon, Quilter Financial Planning
- To really build customer trust the ‘value exchange’ needs to be constant - Nick Telfer, Vitality
- Trust. Trust. Trust - Jiten Varsani, London Money
- Engagement between client and adviser and value-added services - Setul Mehta, Openwork
- Changing the mindset from “Should Do” to “Will Do” - Steve Casey, Square Health
- The emotional power of case studies - Susan Barclay, Scottish Friendly
- Good and bad complexity by Tim Smith, Hannover Re
August 2021 - Collated by Jo Miller
Hindsight - did protection market predictions from 10 years ago come true? Let's look at the reality
Back in 2011, Protection Review carried out some industry research asking colleagues for their predictions for the decade ahead. We asked for views on topics including the biggest influence on sales in the years ahead, whether we would still be requesting GPRs at the application stage, how people would choose to buy protection and the number of advisers we would see by the early 2020s. We repeated our research in 2012 and 2013 and here we ask a number of figures from across the protection industry for their thoughts on the predictions made ten years ago and how close the reality has been. Of course, none of us predicted a global pandemic in 2020 and the resulting fallout, but our predictions make for interesting reading with the benefit of hindsight.
- Think adviser numbers are falling? Think again! - Paul Yates, iPipeline
- Will Electronic Health Records finally see off GPRs? - David Mead, Future Proof
- Is it time to revisit a generic Protection advertising campaign? - Tom Baigrie, LifeSearch
- Have our distribution predictions come true? - Ron Wheatcroft, Swiss Re
- 10 years of Government policy and state benefit reform - Johnny Timpson, Consultant
April 2021 - Collated by Kevin Carr
How to advise on protection and health insurance – the top tips from the best advisers
We asked seven advisers to imagine they were training someone for the first time on how to advise on protection, including the three most important tips they have learned.
This is what they told us.
- Robyn Allen, Robyn Allen Solutions
- Mollie Burdge, Future Proof / St. James’s Place Protection Planning
- Matt Chapman, Plus Financial
- Ben Burgess, LifeSearch
- Brian Walters, Regency Health
- Chris Barnard, Drewberry
- Karla Edwards, The Protection Parent
Q4 - December 2020 - Collated by Roger Edwards
If I could spend £3m on protection...
There’s a movement gathering in the protection industry again about getting together to create a generic campaign to promote protection to the public, whether that be TV advertising or some sort of social media campaign.
For this edition of the Big Read we thought it would be interesting to ask experts from across the industry to think about what they would do if someone gave them £3m to spend on a campaign. The articles make for fascinating reading and we'd love your feedback.
- Katie Crook-Davies, Tabei
- Sarah Walker, Future Proof
- Phil Bray, The Yardstick Agency
- Anna Glod, Umbrella Protect
- Sarah Moore, Auxilium
- Kelly Thomas, Vitality
Q3 - September 2020 - Collated by Jo Miller
Voices from the next generation of protection talent
In this edition of The Big Read, Jo Miller catches up with some of those shortlisted for Protection Review’s Young Achiever Award in previous years to find out how their career has developed and gets their thoughts on the changes they have seen in the industry in recent years as well as developments they would like to see in the years ahead.
- Evie Plumb, Canada Life
- Sean Dunlop, Scottish Widows
- Helen Croft, AIG Life
- Nick Rixon, LifeSearch
- Charlie Gray, LifeSearch
- Isaac Feiner, Lifepoint Healthcare
- Sam Barsfold-Wood, Drewberry
Q2 - June 2020 - Collated by Kevin Carr
Where are they now?
In this edition of our quarterly Big Read series, we talk to seven people who helped shape today’s protection industry as we know it.
- Johanna Noble (nee Gornitzki) - From the editor of Cover Magazine to Money Saving Expert
- Mick James - From 20 years at Standard Life and RGA to Zambia and Malawi
- Sarah Parkin - From Oviso to Hollybeck
- David Robinson - Making Grey Bright and becoming a Non-Executive Director
- John Joseph - The adviser who started CI standardisation
- Nick Kirwan - From the ABI to moving to live and work down under
- John Lappin - Remembering the No Advice No Protection Campaign
Q1 - March 2020 - Collated by Roger Edwards
Protection insights from leading financial adviser firms
In this edition of the Big Read, Roger Edwards interviews some of the leading protection financial adviser firms about their views on the market, where it's going and some of the issues we need to concentrate on.
- Sarah Walker - Future Proof
- Alan Knowles - Cura Financial Services
- Tom Conner - Drewberry
- Jiten Varsani - London Money Financial Services
- Philip Roche - SPF Private Clients
Q4 - December 2019 - Collated by Peter Le Beau
Retrospection and non-contestability
In this edition of the Big Read, Peter Le Beau has put together a series of articles debating critical illness retrospection and the subject of non-contestability. Both topics are frequently covered at industry events and often cause heated conversations in the pub afterwards.
With critical illness products constantly evolving, whether existing customers should have access to new conditions and definitions is a tricky pricing issue. And even though we pay protection claims into the high 90 percents, those we don turn down for non-disclosure continue to attract media attention. Would a non-contestability clause, as used in the US, work here in the UK.
Please read Peter's introduction article first and then choose to read the others in any order you like.
- Big Read Q4 Introduction - retrospection and non-contestability - challenges to our credibility? - Peter Le Beau, Co-chair Protection Review
- Non-contestability – a South African view - SCOR, South Africa
- Tomorrow Comes Today – Critical Illness Non-Contestability and Retrospection - Dr Ed Crouch
- Is Guardian’s the fair way to tackle retrospection? - Katya MacLean, Guardian
- Computers, consoles and Critical Illness - Andrew Wibberley, Alea Risk
- Should we introduce 2 year non-contestability? - Alan Lakey, CIExpert
- The pros and cons of non-contestability - Claire Henshall, Gen Re Life and Health
Q3 - September 2019 - Collated by Jo Miller
Advertising protection presents several challenges: products, and therefore customer journeys, can be complex and ultimately any campaigns for protection products ask people to confront truths that they would rather not think about. Small wonder then that examples of advertising in the protection industry are not easily found and only the 7Families campaign has attempted to get the industry to collaborate to highlight the benefits of protection.
At the Protection Review conference in July, Ian Henderson shared what he saw as the potential for an industry-wide advertising campaign. Acknowledging the need to build trust with potential customers, Ian felt that any such campaign would need to appeal to people on an emotional level and that ultimately the best chance of success lay in establishing a bottom-up movement using technology which would be customers would share with those they trusted. The result of any future campaigns should be to drive action, build connections and make it easy for the audience to interact.
The 7Families campaign proved that any industry-wide campaign requires a great deal of support and goodwill, so we wondered what those from across the industry felt about advertising, their thoughts on how consumers respond to different campaigns, the potential of social media and whether another industry-wide campaign is on the cards.
- Interview with Georgia d'Esterre, Head of Marketing at Holloway Friendly about protection advertising.
- The adviser perspective on protection advertising - Sarah Walker of Future Proof
- Making Protection Personal - Steve Bryan of The Exeter
- Talk triggers for protection - Richard Horner of Met Life UK
- The use of emotion in protection advertising (Video) - Sue Helmont of AIG Life
Q2 - June 2019 - Collated by Kevin Carr
There was a time when the protection market was under fire from all corners for declining claims. We can remember headlines in the national press like ‘This sick cover is a joke’ appearing 2-3 times a month with more on prime time TV as well.
While declined claims may never disappear completely, these days they are fewer and farther between and so is the press coverage. A key reason why the press softened their criticism over the years was the open and honest publication of paid and declined claims stats by the industry. Some insurers published some stats as far back as the 90s (and perhaps beyond) but the real change came when LifeSearch began challenging insurers to publish the numbers in the early 00s. Now, just about every protection insurer publishes their data – albeit in different ways and at different times.
There are views that this should continue, views that we should shout much louder than we do, views that we should stop and/or completely change the narrative. Here, we’ve asked nine people for their opinions on Where next for claims stats? We’ve tried to get a good range of different opinions and we’ve already had a few ideas on how to move forward!
- Sunlight: The best of disinfectants - Iona Bain, freelance journalist
- We don’t trust you…but can you really blame us? - Stephanie Hydon of iPipeline
- Consumer media view of claims stats - Jeff Prestridge of the Mail on Sunday
- Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics - Eric Purdy, underwriting consultant
- Where next for claims stats - Luke Ashworth, consultant and sales trainer
- Choose Life - Mick James, protection consultant
- The history and the future of claims stats - Tom Baigrie of LifeSearch
- Don't stop publishing claims stats - James Daley of Fairer Finance
- Published and be damned (if you do, or damned if you don’t…) - Peter Hamilton of Zurich
Q1 - March 2019 - Collated by Roger Edwards
Digital Marketing and Protection
Digital marketing communications is engaging with customers using digital technology rather than traditional paper-based mailshots and advertising hoardings. Mobile technology means marketing initiatives, once only available to those with massive budgets, are now available to companies of all sizes.
In this edition of the Big Read, we look at how product providers and advisers can use digital marketing to better engage their customers and grow their businesses at the same time.
A Big Read containing only written articles on the subject of digital marketing would seem a little strange given digital is also about video, audio and apps. Hence this Big Read is also a Big Watch or even a Big Listen.
For those of you who do prefer to read, however, we have included a transcript of the videos where relevant.
- 5 ideas for protection digital advertising - Audio Video by Phil Jeynes of UnderwriteMe
- 3 Reasons not to be afraid of video marketing - Video by Sue Helmont of AIG
- Raising the profile of protection through video content - Article by Meredith Illman of British Friendly
- Replatforming - How to gain without pain - Article by Eoin Lyons of OPAL
- Income protection and digital marketing - Video by Georgia D'Esterre of Holloway Friendly
- On the sofa with a cup of tea and a video camera: Video marketing for advisers - Video by Kathryn Knowles of Cura
- The changing consumer and digital marketing - Article by Sarah Walker of Future Proof
- Digital innovation in protection marketing - Article by John Ford of Canada Life Individual Protection
Q4 - November 2018 - Collated by Jo Miller
Women in Protection
With a month to go before Protection Review 2018 the team ran through the agenda to confirm final arrangements for the day. As we did, we made an observation about our speaker line utp and how it made the event stand out from any others that had recently taken place or were scheduled for the near future; 50% of our speakers were women! Every year this had been something we had tried to achieve but it had presented a number of challenges but it was clear looking at the agenda that things were to be different at the 2018 event. Not through any predetermined plan but by merit alone, the theme continued into the evening with at least half of our awards being won by women.
On the day, the audience and feedback we received suggested that the parity between male and female speakers was noticed, and appreciated by the audience. Did it make a difference to how discussions played out on the day? That’s almost impossible for us to measure and for us to know for certain but one thing was undeniable: it made a point.
In fact the feedback we received on this one issue alone got us to thinking about how important it is for the industry to now recognise the need to be representative in all that we do. Not just in what we do but in who does it and the way it is done. And so it is that we bring to you the Big Read collection of articles looking at the theme of fair representation in protection and how we achieve what is best for the customer. Below you will find articles from Steph Hydon from iPipeline and Rose St Louis from Zurich and the Women in Protection Group who talk about how it is in the industry’s best interest to drive equality in the industry and how a workforce that includes more women will ultimately lead to products that appeal to female customers. Kathryn Knowles talks about her experience of being female in financial services and encourages the industry to lead the way. AIG’s Sue Helmont says it is time for the industry to break down stereotypes and allow everyone to reach their full potential. Melissa Collet from the CII discusses the new qualification launched to enable anyone in the industry to learn the fundamentals of protection. Finally, Christine Husbands from Red Arc challenges us to consider equality in the industry in terms of later life, arguing that bringing together later life financial advisers and added value services could have a really positive impact on our customers.
The argument for equality both within the industry but also in how we design and market our products is a strong one and it is hard to think why we as an industry wouldn’t listen. After all, it has to be in the best interests of the customer and that should be top of everyone’s agenda.
- Courage calls to courage everywhere - Steph Hydon of iPipeline
- Diversity in UK Financial Services - Rose St. Louis of Zurich
- The Year of the Woman in Financial Services - Kathryn Knowles of Cura
- Blow your own trumpet - Sue Helmont of AIG Life
- Qualifying for protection - Melissa Collett of the CII
- Later Life needs more than just Financial Advice - Christine Husbands of Red Arc
Q2 - June 2018 - Collated by Peter Le Beau
Critical Illness Cover and Added Value Services
Despite my slow fade into retirement I still occasionally meet senior figures from the industry and to my delight they occasionally recognise me and throw me a scrap or two given my lowly status as a pensioner! Retiring from the industry is on one level very easy but on the other almost impossible. Certainly, I never want to retire emotionally from the industry.
You can withdraw from the industry but issues still follow you around and invite your input. Recently I had dinner with some senior industry figures, one of whom who to my surprise, described the protection industry as boring. He was being flippant and deliberately perpetuating the cliche so often put forward by those without an intimate knowledge of what we do. My point is that while I can see what might incline someone to hold that view it’s not one that I’ve ever held. The reason is that what we look after is so important and so precious to people that it is hard to view it in a disembodied way as just another financial transaction.
I think protection people lack confidence in the value of our product and this discourages us from taking a more robust line in defending what we provide. I make no apologies for spending my life working in an industry that helps so many people. My faith was augmented by my experience running the Seven Families project. What we did there was to remind people how much income protection helped people with major health challenges—and not just in a financial sense. Critical illness can also fundamentally change the financial and emotional perspective of sick people
Life insurance can’t bring relief to people in their own lifetime but speak to anyone recently bereaved as you help them to pay off their mortgage or provide financial security for their family and see if they think that is boring! I think it’s high time we stopped being so defensive about what we do and citing real examples of lives either changed or hugely facilitated by the help we provide. The left- brain introvert personality ( if that’s the right word!) that we project has served us so poorly. It’s led to misguided decisions and an inability to take a proactive approach to describe what we provide.
It’s time that stopped. If it doesn’t we will never change the public perception of what we do.
- Critical Illness Cover - Past Present and Future - Brian Lentz
- The Future of Critical Illness – Reasons to be Cheerful? Mark Jones of Legal & General
- Critical Illness Cover - Quality over Quantity. Alan Knowles of Cura
- Creating certainty with crystal-clear definition wording. Jacqui Gillies of Guardian
- This article may save your life. Dominic Howard of Best Doctors
- What is more important low cost or value- added benefits? David Mead of Future Proof
- Beyond Financial Protection. Christine Husbands of Red Arc
- A question of trust. Johnny Timpson of Scottish Widows
Q1 - March 2018 - Collated by Kevin Carr
What's driving growth in protection?
The UK protection market is booming.
Or at least, according to most sources, it is growing nicely. And about time too.
What is driving the growth?
Could it be technology, portals, comparison sites, consumer confidence (or lack of), claims stats, Seven Families, Martin Lewis, new products, more partnerships, cheaper rates, better underwriting, mortgage advisers, networks, Brexit, Peter Le Beau’s retirement… or perhaps all of the above?
To find out what what’s really going on we asked a range of industry experts including Aviva, Alan Lakey, iPipeline, UnderwriteMe, OPAL, Gen Re and Zurich for the low down on what’s really driving the recent market growth, whether it is sustainable, and how we can make it last.
- Factors influencing protection market growth. Article by Mark Cracknell of Aviva.
- Looking on the Bright Side of Life (and IP and CI). Article by Peter Hamilton of Zurich.
- Product improvements driving growth. Article by Alan Lakey of CIExpert.
- Customer access to protection products. Article by Petra MacFarlane or Gen Re.
- Price comparison websites and engaging the public. Article by Phil Jeynes of UnderwriteMe.
- Why protection needs disruption. Article by Eoin Lyons of Opal.
- How technology is fuelling protection market growth. Article by Paul Yates of iPipeline.
Q4 - October 2017 - Collated by Roger Edwards
At the Protection Review Conference in July 2017, several themes emerged from the speeches and panel debates. As an industry, we need to "Be simpler, more human and braver". It's all very well saying that but what does it mean?
In the latest Big Read, Roger Edwards collects together some thoughts on how we can be all those things.
- Same old, same old, or time to change our approach? Article by David Mead, CEO of Future Proof.
- Three reasons why selling protection is hard – and three ways to make it easy. Article by Rhys Williams of Quietroom.
- When two tribes go to war - millennials and protection. Article by Peter Hamilton, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Zurich.
- Are added value services more important than the financial benefits on protection products?. Article by Jon Ford, Director of Individual Protection, Canada Life.
- Technology - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Article by Stephen Crosbie, Protection Director, Aegon.
- Joint life policies – the next big scandal?
Q2 - June 2017 - Collated by Jo Miller
In the latest Big Read Jo Miller asks whether we have an appetite to do things differently in the protection market. She considers the product development process, the feedback from the recent Adviser Round Table, genetics and lessons from global giant, Amazon. Jo says in her summary article, "Protection insurance isn't immune to a fundamental re- engineering, in fact, I'm saying that's exactly what it needs. That's not because it isn't a wonderful thing, it's because not enough people realise it's a wonderful thing."
- A genuine appetite for something different? Article by Jo Miller.
- How to change the world - the Amazon Lesson. Article by Paul Yates of iPipeline.
- 10 keys to a successful product launch in the protection adviser market. Article by Peter Le Beau, Kevin Carr and Roger Edwards.
- Discussion points from the Protection Review Adviser Round Table discussion. Summary notes by Peter Le Beau.
- It’s in the genes. Article by Steven Marc Rhodes.
- BONUS Article August 2017 - Would non-contestability increase consumer trust?
Q1 - February 2017 - Collated by Peter Le Beau
In the latest Big Read Peter Le Beau looks at trends and predictions for the protection market and underwriting in 2017.
- The Folly of Old Thinking - Big Read Editorial Q1 2017 by Peter Le Beau.
- Lessons from the 2016 Protection Review Conference. Article by Roger Edwards.
- Future of the Protection Market. Expert views by Stephen Crosbie, Alan Lakey, Dean Mason, Ron Wheatcroft and Paul Avis.
- Future of Underwriting. Expert views by Steve Casey and Phil Jeynes.
- What are the imperatives for advisers in building strong customer relationships? Article by Alex Cleanthi of Future Proof.
- Is there any value in the underwriting process anymore? Article by Steven Rhodes, barrister and "Mastermind" finalist.
Q4 - November 2016 - Collated by Kevin Carr
For the November Big Read, Kevin Carr shines a spotlight on customer engagement.
- Is the challenge customer engagement or re-engagement? Article by Kevin Carr.
- Client retention before lead generation. Article by David Mead of Future Proof Insurance.
- Thinking outside of our protection bubble. Article by Rhys Williams of Quietroom.
- Keeping a multi-generational workforce engaged and loyal. Article by Andrew Walker of Epoq.
- Bespoke communication strategies and customer engagement. Article by Bryce Shepherd of SCOR.
- Income protection – simple, but still not enough. Article by Nick Jones of the Exeter.
- Digital has become a consumer lifestyle. Article by Kerry Nicolaides of F&TRC.
Q3 - August 2016 - Collated by Roger Edwards
We've revamped our Big Read pages. No more PDFs so it's easy to read these great articles on mobile devices. And you'll find a video to watch in Scottish Widows article on mortgage protection.
- Where is the finishing line in the critical illness race: Article by Roger Edwards of Protection Review.
- Why we should be looking at protection with a fresh pair of eyes: Article by Darren Spriggs of Pacific Life Re.
- Protection market lessons from the Syndicate research 2016: Article by Jo Miller of Protection Review.
- Scottish Widows: Why we need to inspect home and mortgage financial foundations: Article and Video by Johnny Timpson of Scottish Widows.
- SCOR: Wearable technology – Findings from SCOR staff trial and surveys: Article by David Ferguson of SCOR.