Independent financial research company Defaqto questioned 500 IFAs who deal in individual protection products to determine:
- The aspects of service that are most important to them
- Whether the providers they deal with are meeting their expectations in these areas
Defaqto asked advisers to rate individual protection providers in relation to 41 aspects of service across the following nine categories:
- Administration of new business
- Administration of existing business
- The general views they hold about providers
- Claims servicing
- Service relating to how the adviser is remunerated by the provider
- The provider’s products and level of product support
- The broker consultant service offered
- Provider underwriting
- Online services
The survey found that the areas of service advisers regard as most important relate to the processing of claims and acquisition of new business. The top 10 areas were:
- Timeliness of processing applications for new business
- Consistency of underwriting decisions
- Underwriting speed
- Claims payment timeliness
- Treating customers fairly
- Claims management
- Staff competence in dealing with new business administration
- Underwriting process
- Staff competence in dealing with existing business administration
- Staff competence in dealing with claims
However, providers are meeting users’ expectations in only two of the top 10 most important individual aspects of service: treating customers fairly and staff competence in dealing with new business administration.
Commenting, Ben Heffer, Defaqto’s insight analyst for life and protection, said: “The aspects of service most important to advisers are those associated with new business and claims.
“These are crucial not only to the advisers who wish to grow their businesses and provide optimum assistance to their clients, but also to consumers who must have confidence that they will be dealt with promptly, fairly and with competence by the provider if they need to claim.
“By furthering their understanding of service in this sector, advisers will be able to make informed decisions about future business partners, ensuring they select providers that meet the needs of their business and ultimately their clients.
“Robust due diligence is key and central to this will be the availability of independent analysis to support an adviser’s selection process.”