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'The tide is changing! Now is the time for quality over price'

Published: 12/02/2024

The protection market needs to move with times, which means embracing quality over price once and for all, writes Vitality’s Chief Operations and Growth Officer Greg Levine.

We’ve heard it all before... there’s a huge protection gap in the UK. Consumers lack awareness around products such as critical illness cover (still), or even the need for financial protection at all.

However, while the above remains true, one new thing CIExpert’s recent Critical Thinking Report 2024 highlights is that more than ever there is an opportunity (an appetite even) to properly communicate how products are evolving in line with changing consumer needs1. This, the industry believes, will help us (at last) cut through and grow the protection market once and for all.

Whether that’s through continuing to deliver immediate, tangible value through plans, or ensuring that cover remains in place following a claim, this is a philosophy we must all surely take seriously. To not do so, would leave the door open to other (less comprehensive) means of financial resilience.

More than just a commodity

Concerningly, when surveyed about where they would go to take out or review an existing critical illness cover plan, the three leading sources consumers chose were all online - via Google, comparison services or online consumer groups. This sentiment was evenly split across all age groups, not just Gen Z or Millennials. More damningly, financial advisers or insurance brokers themselves finished upper mid-table, landing fourth and fifth1.

While an online search is intuitive – these days, I would do the same when booking a holiday or searching for a new TV, for example – it begs the question whether what they find is going to be fit for purpose from a protection point of view (unless their search leads to a good adviser).

Take Hayley’s example, for instance. Had she not understood the importance of fully comprehensive cover offering the option for multiple claims in full, not only would she be left uninsured and uninsurable today, but her family would also likely be unprotected, following her survival of two serious illness diagnoses. One of those conditions would not have paid out at all, had she been with a different insurer.

Worryingly, 81% of consumers were unaware that some critical illness plans provide multiple claims, for adults or children. However, 36% said they’d be more likely to consider critical illness cover if they were given information that multiple claims can be made on a policy, rising to 70% for Gen Z and 54% of Millennials1.


The adviser opportunity

It’s clear from the Critical Thinking Report – and other recent expert commentary from Protection Guru - that most clients would prefer quality over a cheaper price given the option. The challenge lies in them knowing what levels of quality actually exist.

It’s true the onset of Consumer Duty has cemented the idea that that protection advice needs to be more than a box-ticking exercise, and that advisers have a responsibility to fully address their client’s needs through offering the most comprehensive cover suited to their needs and budget.

Insurers too need to ensure products themselves move forward. Through Serious Illness Cover, we’re doing exactly that. By protecting clients at the earlier stages of their illness, for a much wider range of conditions, and the ability to offer multiple claims, alongside later life cover too.

All this provides advisers with ample opportunity to deliver a less transactional form of protection advice and truly offer value to clients.

More than ever, it feels like the tide is changing around the ‘quality versus price’ industry debate. Given the consumer flight to online solutions, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that going forward the role of the adviser will be to set themselves apart – or get left behind.

Find out more about how Vitality's Serious Illness Cover can enable you to offer quality, comprehensive cover for your clients.

Where to next?

  • Traditional forms of protection are swiftly becoming outdated

    The protection industry can play a vital role in not just helping people become more financially resilient but healthier too, writes VitalityLife Managing Director Justin Taurog.

  • Critical Illness Cover needs more than just a name change

    Given the rapidly changing needs of clients, critical illness cover needs more than just a rebrand, writes Greg Levine, Chief Operations and Growth Officer at Vitality.

  • Hayley's Story

    With people more likely to survive a serious illness than ever, the need for cover to remain in place after a claim has never been more important. As Hayley Morris found out first hand.

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