Anna Glod, CEO, Umbrella Protect
If I had £3million to spend on advertising and PR I would spend it on talking to mortgage brokers, IFAs and estate agents. The big life companies are doing a fantastic job at promoting protection to consumers, but the most important people are the finance and property experts.
Mortgage brokers, IFAs and estate agents see people when they are happy; when they are proactively looking for something. It may be for a mortgage on their ideal new house, or it may be because they have some money to invest. At that point when the customer is happy and positive, the last thing that many advisers want to do is to start talking to their client about what happens to their family were they to die, or should they perhaps, have a stroke or a heart attack and be unable to work.
These are not always easy conversations to have, especially when someone is excitedly looking forward to their new house; but they are essential. No adviser should saddle a client with the biggest debt of their life without thinking about how they would service that debt if they were unable to work.
But that is OK.
The mortgage adviser or estate agent doesn’t need to have that conversation. There are specialists, such as Umbrella Protect for example, who can talk about that instead. Delicately, sensitively, but in a way where the borrower or investor starts to think about their vulnerabilities and protects against them.
This way they get the new house and the new future, but they also get protected.
So I would spend the £3million on getting that message out there, to every adviser in the land. It is ok if you don’t want to talk about the protection side, but there are also those of us who will, on your behalf. Win, win, win. Win for the adviser because their client is looked after and they will be paid a referral fee, win for the protection specialists and win for the client who has the cover they need at the price they can afford.
But sometimes the problem is bigger than it seems. There appears to be scepticism about the protection companies and whether they actually payout. 97% payout, but often even the statistics aren’t believed.
As somebody who has organised hundreds of protection policies and made dozens of claims on behalf of clients, I can verify that the statistics are true. The only reason a policy wouldn’t payout is if somebody has not been truthful on their application form.
But there is also a greater level of understanding that is necessary. The cheapest is not always the best – in fact it usually isn’t. But sometimes as little as £1 more a month will ensure that on a critical illness policy for example, that the client is covered for double the number of conditions.
Anybody advising on protection needs to understand this; they need to know what conditions Aviva covers for instance, compared to Royal London or Vitality. And it’s not just about the policy itself. It is the added extras.
The likes of Royal London work with Helping Hand, so their critical illness policies also cover physiotherapy, alternative therapies, or even talking therapies for stress and mental health. Once someone has a policy, it doesn’t cost any more for them to take advantage of these therapies it is all part of the cover.
Another misconception is that pre-existing conditions will not be covered. This is often just not the case. While not all conditions are covered, different providers cater for different things. A specialist broker will know this – and will spend time phoning around the different providers to find the right one for the client that covers the condition or illness that is appropriate for them.
The key is knowledge, knowing what providers will cover and what they will not - and this changes all the time. Arguably, only the people providing protection day in and day out will know this. But this should work for the advisers who sell the house or organise the mortgage. You don’t need to know the detail on a day to day basis – as long as you are referring to someone who does, ensuring that your client always gets the best advice. The worst of all worlds is not referring the client and not advising the client yourself – of advising the client badly.
Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” So I would spend my £3million on PR – and on a number of events for mortgage brokers, IFAs and estate agents, to change the mentality about protection, help them really understand the importance of it and the value that can be achieved for their clients.
Anything that will help finance and property professionals to really see the value in protection for their clients would, in turn, benefit thousands of people across the country.