The world is changing fast. Protection also needs to
Given the age of volatility we live in, protection needs to move with the times. Protection propositions are evolving in line with the changing needs of consumers, providing more comprehensive levels of cover, offering multiple claims that continues later into life, alongside immediate value from day one, writes Greg Levine, Chief Operations and Growth Officer at Vitality.
Today, we live in an age of volatility. From a health perspective, the country is not getting healthier, with the Health Foundation recently predicting that over nine million people in the UK will be living in poor health by 20401.
The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is also having a destabilising impact, especially with the tightening of the mortgage market posing challenges for protection advisers.
One thing our 2022 life claims statistics do is remind us of the importance of being there for your client at the moments that matter most. Our latest Life Claims & Benefits Report also also illustrates why protection needs to evolve to deliver better customer outcomes.
“It’s crucial that the protection market steps up to the challenges we face as a nation. Now is the time to seize the opportunity and make a positive impact, for consumers and society too.”
How is protection insurance evolving?
On the one hand, people are living for longer, and often in poorer health2, and advancements in medical science mean we are more likely to survive a critical illness that would have once been fatal. For example, 1 in 5 cancers are a reoccurrences3 and half of those diagnosed with cancer live longer than 10 years4.
For this reason, the traditional critical illness model has needed a rethink.
Looking at our numbers, 1 in 12 Serious Illness Cover claims in 2022 were people claiming for a second or third time5. Our continuity of cover is a benefit that really stands out in the market. As the only provider to introduce the ability to claim more than once for 100% of benefit amount, (under SIC x2 and SIC x3) our claims data helps reinforce the need for this.
This also applies to the continuation of cover into later life. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, the number of people living with dementia is predicted to double to 1.6 million by 2040, and 1 in 6 over the age of 80 currently live with dementia6.
Over 70,000 of our members are now protected with our unique Dementia Frailcare Cover, giving them the option to continue cover beyond the term of the plan.
It’s clear that advisers are already using this as an opportunity to offset this growing societal problem, with later life funding increasingly becoming an issue for families in the UK7 – but we still have a long way to go.
Why is comprehensive cover so vital?
With Consumer Duty’s heightened focus on ‘avoiding foreseeable harm’ and delivering ‘good’ client outcomes, the need for comprehensive and flexible cover is in the spotlight.
When it comes to critical illness cover particularly, the last thing any adviser wants is for their client to call up and ask: “Am I covered for this condition?” and you have to say no.
For any of us it’s impossible to know what conditions might arise. So, the broader and more comprehensive the cover is, the better the chances of a positive outcome.
That's exactly what we have delivered by ensuring we have such vast, broad coverage points and in many cases unique conditions not covered elsewhere in the market.
It’s important to stress as well that unique does not mean niche. According to our 2022 claims data, 1 in 8 claims on Vitality Serious Illness Cover would not be covered by a typical enhanced critical illness plan.
The other area I think is critically important is the role of Income Protection in not just moving with a client as their circumstances change – through GIOs and ensuring guaranteed benefit amounts – but also in helping them stay healthy and productive in the workplace, while also being there with both physical and financial support for when things do go wrong.
What role can prevention play?
To fulfil our core purpose - to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives - we incentivise and reward our members for healthy living. This is proven to encourage behaviour change, with those who are more highly engaged on average seeing 41% lower mortality rates8.
The Vitality Programme is not only about providing real immediate tangible value from day one, but also making a difference to your client’s lives today.
In 2022, Vitality members completed over 500,000 health assessments, 1.7 million mindfulness sessions and 797 billion steps. On average, 61% in the UK meet the recommended weekly exercise guidelines. This compares to 87% for those who are highly engaged with the Vitality Programme.
All this helps drive positive behaviour change that helps reduce the chance of illness and minimises the chance of a claim from occurring in the first place.
How do advisers benefit from the Vitality Programme?
When you have such a comprehensive range of benefits and a programme that benefits members today, you have far greater engagement, which drives far greater retention.
It is no longer enough for insurers to just pay claims and for distributors to treat protection advice simply as a one-off transaction. Through engagement with the Vitality Programme, we see 39% less cancellations for our most engaged members9.
Our data also proves the Vitality Programme is 10 times more engaging than comparable wellbeing apps, with 112k daily app logins a day. This creates countless opportunities for more regular touchpoints for advisers and ‘softer’ interactions, which in turn helps generate cross-sale and referral discussions, as well as foster greater loyalty.
So why wouldn't you, in the interests of your clients, provide them with the most comprehensive cover that gives them value and benefits today? In a time of Consumer Duty, we pride ourselves as a business in offering market-leading protection, better suited to the needs of today’s consumer and their advisers and true value for the here and now.
Why protection needs to evolve in line with the changing needs of people today
Where to next?
The protection market needs innovation - not consolidation
With the life insurance market showing signs of consolidation, protection product development and competition through continued innovation has never been more vital, writes VitalityLife Managing Director Justin Taurog.
Why better client engagement is good for everyone
Next in our Catalysing behaviour change series, Lara Fascione, Vitality Group Retention & Adviser Operations Director explores how harnessing the power of engagement can deliver benefits for clients and advisers alike.
Protection must evolve to meet changing customer needs
The advent of the new Consumer Duty regulations means that protection products must evolve to meet changing consumer needs and deliver good outcomes, writes Justin Taurog, Managing Director VitalityLife.
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2 Health in 2040: projected patterns of illness in England, July 2023
3 National Cancer Institute, accessed 2021
4 Cancer Research UK, 2010-2011
5 VitalityLife Claims & Benefits report 2023
6 Facts for the media about dementia | Alzheimer's Society (alzheimers.org.uk)
7 What could a government cap on care fees mean for you?, St James Place, August 2023
8 VitalityLife Claims and Benefits Report 2023