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January 2020 | Protection

Mike Allison: Let’s continue the protection positivity

Mike Allison is head of protection at Paradigm Mortgage Services

As we start another year we might be already wondering if we’ve kept those New Year resolutions we set out on January 1. 

Those personal ones might already have gone, but let’s hope the business ones keep for a lot longer. 

From a Paradigm perspective we have seen a positive move forward in our published results in the protection space and will strive to continue growing our business in to 2020 and beyond.

We all know and recognise the need to offer protection to clients where possible and the growth in the protection market over the past reported two years of 2017 and 2018 have been more positive than in the decade or so before.

Anecdotal evidence for 2019 is positive too with the main IT distributors showing positive moves in quotation and traded numbers. In addition, intermediary share continues to grow which is positive news for all of us.

However, these things don’t just happen, it takes every one of us involved in the industry to help as much as possible in recognising where the opportunities and threats are and help to overcome them as part of a broader plan. 

If we look at five key areas for 2020 I would say the continued evolution of the following for the next 12 months will be key in achieving goals:

  • Customer contact.
  • Promotion of support services.
  • Mental health promotion and looking at ‘vulnerable customers’. 
  • IT.
  • Business protection – individual and group.

As mentioned in previous articles, perception of what a broker does for his or her customer is not always fully understood by the customer themselves. 

In the case of a mortgage, for example, the hours of research done to find the best possible rate and affordability may not be fully impressed upon the clients. 

In turn they may perceive the ‘value’ they are receiving as normal or below par when the truth is clearly different. 

In reality a client never wants a mortgage, they want a home and the distractions of moving can ‘block out’ almost everything else. 

For a 2-year mortgage, contact after 18 months would be somewhat normal practice, but in the growing world of 5-year deals that ‘gap’ may become harder to fill, so reminding clients of other support a broker can give could be crucial in binding that relationship so the client has no desire to go elsewhere when looking for another home or better rate ever again. 

Constant customer contact is therefore vital and shouldn’t be underestimated as a principle.

One area that can help significantly in filling the ‘communication gap’ is in the promotion of support services now being offered by almost all major providers. 

Traditionally, it has been the group risk players like UNUM who have been active in promoting the added-value services its group plans have carried for years. 

Now almost all of the individual life providers have taken on board such components as 24/7 GP access, rehabilitation support and others which have already had a major impact on clients. 

The promotion of these services and the reaffirmation from the broker to the customer as to the reason they chose one provider over another can only aid the customer perception.

One of the biggest benefits added to a policy by today’s more enlightened insurers is the potential support given to a customer during periods of mental health issues. 

These can be helplines to discuss minor aspects of mental health to full-blown counselling and treatment. The former may definitely help in cancelling the need for the latter.

All those now part of the SM&CR regime need to look at their vulnerable client policy.

Explaining the full value of these and other services can form a major part of that policy.

The success Paradigm firms have had with Solution Builder over the past three years has been nothing short of phenomenal. 

As we move into 2020 the development and greater use of these, and indeed, other tools will no doubt support further growth in the market as well as adding more contact opportunities.

Often overlooked as an area for development, the work done by Legal & General yet again in the publication of its ‘State of the Nation’ paper on all things business protection has been a welcome reminder of the scope of the opportunity and real value a broker can add when they are working with SME clients.

Likewise, the work carried out alongside the group risk insurers such as UNUM has helped our firms at Paradigm Protect open up new markets for themselves and add real value to their customers.