Five ways to grow your protection business


You barely see a month in the protection market go by without an announcement on the launch of a new system, tool or initiative to aid advisers when selling protection.

It’s a hugely positive aspect of the market that it continually strives to be easier to interact with, but it’s also a time consuming job to keep up with every new initiative and proposition on offer and weigh up which ones will best fit within your day-to-day sales process.

Streamlining initiatives that save time and cost, and collateral that arms advisers when discussing protection, can make a huge difference to business volumes, client experience and therefore the adviser’s bottom line. Here, we look at five ways advisers can grow their protection business.

1. Intelligent research tools

Tools that combine the advice and application process can improve the recommendations made to clients, save advisers valuable time and increase profits.

The new Solutionbuilder tool on iPipeline’s Assureweb portal describes itself as an intelligent protection quote solution. It enables advisers to review a client’s protection needs and budget to identify product recommendations, then gives the adviser options on how the products could be best packaged together, including both multi-benefit and single product comparisons. Advisers can run many quote comparisons on one screen and view them side by side.

It was originally launched with network Openwork before being available to the whole market. Openwork has said: “It [Solutionbuilder] radically improves the quality and service our advisers can give their clients, as solutions can be sourced considerably more comprehensively and efficiently than ever before.”

Ian Teague, Managing Director for iPipeline UK, commented: “In the first month Openwork saw a significant increase in both average monthly premiums (10.8 per cent) and average benefits per client (17.9 per cent), clearly showing that Solutionbuilder does not only accelerate adviser businesses, enabling them to become more profitable, but also helps to close the protection gap.”

Other research tools have been labelled as invaluable by advisers when selling protection, such as F&TRC and CI Expert. These provide advisers with a detailed breakdown of the values of protection products by comprehensively comparing product features across the market, often providing a level of detail that would be unrealistic or too time consuming to otherwise collate.

2. Improvements to multi-benefit quoting

Iress has recently made improvements to its multi-benefit offering, by launching the Protection Package on its quote system, the Exchange. It allows advisers to request a multi-benefit quote, and then ask for a multi-benefit comparison, to determine whether a single or multiple provider would be most cost effective and apply online without the need to re-key data.

Dave Miller, executive general manager for sourcing at Iress said: “In today’s market advisers will feel any inefficiency in their bottom line, so it’s crucial that technology makes the process of selling protection products as quick and simple as possible. The recent launch of Iress’s multi-policy tool means advisers are able to quickly compare individual cost of policy benefits alongside package products.

“We have also strived to ensure the amendment of information, including adding or removing benefits to maximise or achieve each client’s budget, has been made as simple as possible. All of the above can be done across a number of devices which means advisers are no longer tied to their desks and can provide this service wherever they are.”

LifeQuote was the first portal to offer multi-benefit quotes. It allows a matrix of up to 48 products to be shown, comparing single and multi-products and calculates the difference.

Neil McCarthy, LifeQuote sales and marketing director, said: “It’s all about saving advisers time and increasing their revenue, directly by simplifying the quotes so that they can get better quote research quicker, and indirectly by doing all their low cost admin, allowing them to focus on higher value tasks such as advising and seeing new clients.

“Also, helping with their compliance – by taking the non-disclosure risk (which at a point of a potential sale in the future should add value to their business), and by providing accurate information that aids and simplifies compliance audit.”

3. Get more policies on risk by setting expectations

One of the biggest reasons that protection policies aren’t taken up is that the premium comes back a lot more expensive than people were originally quoted at the start of the process due to an underwriting issue. So by setting realistic expectations from the outset, it helps the adviser with product recommendations and ensures there’s no nasty surprise for the client.

Peter Chadborn at advisory firm Plan Money said they have created their own pre-underwriting form for this reason, which covers brief questions on health, lifestyle and occupation ahead of the research process. “It means we understand very early on if there are any headline medical or occupational factors which may affect the application, thus enabling us to better manage clients’ expectations, and our own.”

Protection portal LifeQuote offers advisers a Decision in Principle pre-underwriting tool. “This is designed to enable advisers to source a medical, lifestyle, and in some cases, financial underwriting decision in principle from the provider or providers the adviser has pre-selected,” said Neil McCarthy, sales and marketing director.

“It allows advisers to create a carefully assembled and proven advice profile that will reassure the client, enhance conversion rates, reduce NTU and decline rates, and reduce the customer’s propensity to ‘multi-prop’, which in turn saves advisers time and wasted effort. It will also, usefully, give advisers additional hard evidence for why they have recommended a particular provider.”

4. Use real life stories

We know another barrier to people buying protection is that while people understand the risk that is being covered, they don’t think it will happen to them. This, combined with an overall lack of trust, can act as a significant disincentive.

The recently launched charity-led Seven Families campaign is supporting families across the UK who have lost an income without having financial support in place. It tells the stories of the families through bite-sized films on social media, which can easily be used by advisers to highlight to clients the difference that both the financial support and physical support makes when people unexpectedly find themselves unable to work. It can help encourage people to really think about whether they could cope financially in a similar situation.

Some networks and adviser firms have now made the videos part of their induction process for new advisers and paraplanners on the basis that many younger people may not have the life experience to understand why protection can be so important. One of the strongest elements of the campaign shows the value of ‘added benefits’.

Most protection policies come with access to a host of support services such as rehabilitation, counselling and medical experts that can often be used without a claim being made. Many policyholders won’t be aware that they have these additional benefits when they can be of huge help to people and avoid them getting to a point where they are unable to work, or help them return to work faster. As many advisers have often said, it is far better to have something and not need it, than to need something and not have it.

Benefits such as access to a virtual GP, or a second medical opinion through services such as Best Doctors can make a huge difference to the way people are able to manage their health and should be shouted from the rooftops when recommending a protection policy.

As well as insurers such as Vitality and Health Shield, Exeter Family Friendly has also recently added a virtual GP service for both its new and existing income protection and private medical insurance policyholders. People will be able to book and carry out face-to-face consultations with private GPs online using a webcam, making it a very convenient way of accessing expert medical advice.

Simon Philip, director of distribution and marketing at Exeter Family Friendly, said: “Access to primary care services in the NHS is a real problem, with many people having to wait days if not weeks to see their GP. This benefit means our policyholders can have a personal consultation with a practicing GP from the comfort of their own home.”

5. Use insurer initiatives as a motivator

While price shouldn’t be the sole reason to recommend a policy, provider initiatives such as premium discounts can give advisers an additional reason to speak to clients, or to go back to those previously considering protection with a further incentive to take cover out now.

VitalityLife is offering a 5 per cent discount on its Optimiser protection policies until the end of June, and LV recently offered a 5 per cent discount on all income protection policies taken out during March and April, which it has done periodically over the last few years.

Across the life of the policy a 5 per cent discount can be a worthwhile saving (taking a 25 year £30 per month premium to £28.50, saving £450 over the term), which could make the premiums more palatable to some clients. At the very least, it’s a conversation opener and a good reason to make contact.

Earlier we referred to a lack of trust and claims statistics are a good way to manage this in a pro-active and positive manner. They are published by providers on an annual basis and canbe used by advisers when talking to clients about protection, to help prove that policies do pay out, and counter some people’s perception of the industry.

According to new research from British Friendly the vast scale of self-employed people who believe less income protection claims are paid out than actually are with just 2 per cent of respondents saying that income protection claims were paid out more than 90 per cent of the time. Some 45 per cent believed that the main reasons claims were declined was insurers deliberately trying not to pay, even though on average the industry pays more than 90 per cent of IP claims.

Kevin Carr is managing director of Carr Consulting & Communications and chief executive of Protection Review

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