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Making appropriate financial protection accessible for the many not the few

News

Improving access to protection for those with chronic conditions and disabilities from the DWP Champion Access to Insurance Working Group.

This article was first published in Scottish Widows' Jan ’19 TechTalk magazine

 

Improving consumer access to insurance, particularly travel and protection insurance has been a growing issue for a couple of years, with matters coming to a head in July 2017 when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a call for evidence on the issue. Subsequently, in July 2018 the regulator responded by looking in detail at travel insurance and cancer with the issues cited having a read across to all product lines.

Recently, Parliamentary interest in this issue has increased significantly, with access to insurance featuring in three debates, one of these a Westminster Hall Debate. This interest culminated in access to insurance being brought into the scope of the recently announced Treasury Select Committee review of access to financial services.

In my Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Disability Champion role for our industry and profession, I initiated a programme of work that focused on protection. As a result, the inaugural meeting of the DWP Champion Access to Insurance Working Group took place in the DWP Board Room on 21 September 2018.

In attendance alongside the FCA, were the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), Group Risk Development (GRiD), Investment & Life Assurance Group (ILAG), Association of British Insurers (ABI), Association of Financial Mutuals, Protect Association, Protection Distributors Group, Access to Protection Group, Building Resilient Households Group, Income Protection Task Force, Association of Professional Compliance Consultants, Money Advice Service, Alea Risk representing the Assurance Medical Underwriting Society (AMUS), Focus and Select Underwriting Groups, Financial Services Consumer Panel, Citizens Advice, Macmillan Cancer Support, Scope, Age UK, Alzheimer's Society, National AIDS Trust and the Huntington's Disease Association. Since the initial meeting, the Federation of Small Businesses and a number of protection specialist advisers have joined the Working Group with HM Treasury also now taking an interest and seeking regular updates.

This inaugural meeting resulted in all attendees, committing on behalf of their respective professional body, trade body, charity or organisation to working collaboratively to improving access to individual and workplace protection.

The Working Group has established work streams and set out four key aims:

  • Develop a signposting system for consumers, supported by charities and consumer groups.
  • Improve underwriting transparency and practices around chronic health conditions and disabilities.
  • Improve standards and create a framework for those who distribute protection products.
  • Develop a proposal for greater accessibility to insurance through the workplace.

The Ministerial view

Sarah Newton, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work commented that:

"We know that disabled people can often face additional costs as a result of their disability, which is why I want disabled people to be able to access the right insurance products and services at the right price. Our insurance champion is bringing together insurers, regulatory bodies and charities for the first time to show businesses in the insurance sector the importance of making disabled customers a priority."

Collaboration to deliver change

Especially given the doing the best for your customer principle underpinning the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD)…

In my view, walking the talk on inclusion and diversity is essential for the continued success and growth of our sector with this being more than a gender issue as we must be mindful that one in five of those in work is living with a health condition and/or a disability with many poly-conditional. In addition our society is ageing, not only working longer but having financial commitments and hence, potential protection needs stretching later into life. I and my Access To Insurance Working Group and Workstream colleagues are committed to working with our industry and impression to improve access to affordable insurance for disabled consumers and those living with health conditions, bringing key players to the table to agree on a clear set of actions for making the insurance industry to make advice and appropriate insurance solutions more accessible for ALL. The degree of collaboration in this programme is a first for the protection sector and will enable us to make a real difference to UK consumers living with a disability or health condition, many of whom will have financial commitments, liabilities and protection needs. I will update on progress in future editions of Techtalk.

 

To hear more from Johnny, read his previous blogs on the Scottish Widows Protect centre.