Great news! Income Protection, the most important and least sold personal lines insurance policy in our market was bought by 10% more consumers in 2015 than in 2014. Never mind the embarrassing base level, the turnaround has started. That happened because a few passionate experts decided to ignore industry defeatism and the myriad of conflicting corporate corporate and individual agendas and just go for it.
The wise old owl; the underwriter with an endless appetite for detail: the heroic IFA and the talented publicist together created a truly new style of social media awareness campaign; they ran the innovator’s real risk of failure, weather being written off at the outset by the professional sceptics and fought through the endless prevarications of insurers keener on market share than market growth. They raised as much as they could, found with 7-families that they could help with IP benefit and showed us all what a difference that product makes to real people in the toughest of circumstances. The level of diligence needed to avoid the infinite pitfalls that the nay-sayers could not see past, and the communications skills needed to achieve the tremendous and entirely positive publicity across our market cannot be underestimated. These few have led us through the turn of the market just as they intended.
I know their efforts worked because I watched as their magic reached my team of advisers. We were proud of the amount of IP we wrote, but we now write double that and our whole business talks about Income Protection all the time. We now think we write more of it that any other UK intermediary, but in truth it’s still only a small percentage of our overall output, despite a genuine intensity of focus that would normally achieve much more. The reason for our frustration is that almost none of the consumers we raise the subject with have ever heard of the cover. That ignorance makes consumers trust our words far less and makes our job hugely harder.
That makes the next step obvious. You see the 7-Families’ geniuses focused on bringing IP alive for intermediaries and the media, the tiny budget that their sponsoring insurers afforded meant that their ability to reach consumers would always be very limited. I think they did way better at this than even they hoped, but the next job must be to make IP something of a household name.
Interestingly the Americans have showed us just how to do just that and I hear some of our trade bodies are considering following their methods. I’ll tell you as soon as I know more, but the key need that we need to address is to educate and make consumers far more aware of the good that IP can do. And that’s much more credibly done if it’s done in an objective way. And creating that is surely something all those who would profit from a flourishing IP market should invest in.
Article first published in Money Marketing 3rd June 2016.