Protection Watch with Kevin Carr


Verdict: Down, but not out

1. Falling down

As many experts predicted protection sales fell sharply in 2013. According to Swiss Re Income Protection sales declined by 24% and fell below 100,000 new policies for the first time in a decade. Critical illness sales declined by 21% while sales of term assurance fell by 17%. The reasons for the drop in sales are largely attributed to price rises which occurred at the end of 2012, primarily caused by the Gender directive, which reduced much of the switching and re-broking of protection policies to save money as rates for many people have since become more expensive.

VERDICT: Down, but not out

2. e-Smoke gets in your eyes

The use of electronic cigarettes among adults in Britain has tripled over the past two years from an estimated 700,000 users in 2012 to 2.1 million in 2014. Nearly two-thirds of users are smokers and one third are ex-smokers, the research from the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found. From a protection underwriting perspective, anything that contains nicotine is classed as smoking.

VERDICT: Promising lead

3. Moving on up

The Group Risk market was up almost 6% (5.9%) last year in terms of premium income, according to Swiss Re’s Group Watch 2014. Premium income was again up across all three benefit types—life cover, income protection and critical illness cover—with death benefit premiums up 8.9% and in-force sums insured up 6.0%, GIP benefits up 15.1% and GCI ben-efits up 13%.

VERDICT: Promising lead

4. Big mistake

According to Aviva half of UK adults are classified as either overweight (31%) or obese (19%) yet many believe they are in very good or excellent health. The report also found the effect unhealthy levels of BMI were having on happiness and self-esteem, with mental health issues such as depression more prevalent among overweight individuals. Almost two in 10 (17%) obese adults sought help for a mental health condition from their GP in the last year, compared with an average of 13%, while just a few of those that were obese (12%) sought help for managing their weight.

VERDICT: Back to the lab

5. Cancer survival periods increase

Half of people diagnosed with cancer today will survive their disease for at least 10 years, according to figures published by Cancer Research UK. The analysis of over 7m cancer patients diagnosed in England and Wales since the 1970s found that 40 years ago just a quarter of people diagnosed with cancer survived 10 years. Women with breast cancer now have a 78% chance of surviving at least a decade, compared to only 40% in the early 1970s.

VERDICT: Promising lead

This article first appeared in Professional Adviser magazine