The Blog Spot: The right thing to do

Sian Barton

The InsureTrek takes place next month. Siân Barton argues for the insurance world to do even more to help vulnerable customers.

You may be aware that a number of brave walkers from the insurance world are doing a trek through the Alps next month to raise money for and awareness of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Mont Blanc Massif trek

Covéa’s Simon Cooter has rounded up a bunch of us (including me!!) to take on the Mont Blanc Massif and, in addition to the physical challenge, we also have a target of raising £75,000 for the Society.

We haven’t quite reached the goal yet (at the time of writing we’ve hit £66,912.65) so if you’re able to help us reach our goal please do sponsor us here.

Here endeth my plug. But I do have a related point to make.

Thinking about the people we’re walking for it made me consider how difficult those with the disease, or those who are vulnerable in other ways, may find it to buy insurance.

It raises the issue of vulnerable customers and how the financial services sector treats them. We’ve discussed this before as part of Insurance Cares but it’s worth reiterating.

Forms can be long and complicated and policy wordings are hard to understand at the best of times.

Difficult
Buying insurance can sometimes be a strange, convoluted process and vulnerable people, perhaps with Alzheimer’s, or mental health conditions, or disabilities, may find it harder than others to navigate the financial services maze.

I have been pleased to see insurers and brokers supporting the Insurance Cares campaign to help vulnerable people access insurance cover. We’ve seen some good examples of how insurers and brokers are embedding good practice into their processes.

And the signposting initiative to help people with illnesses get travel cover appears to be working well.

Regulator
This is not just an example of doing the right thing, it also makes sound sense. For one you are losing out on a market. Two, why shouldn’t vulnerable people access insurance as easily as others?

And soon ways to help vulnerable customers won’t just be a ‘nice to have’. This is something the regulator is currently looking into.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is planning to consult on the matter in early 2019. Naturally at this stage the outcomes of this are unclear.

However, according to a paper issued by the watchdog the consultation will aim to provide clarity on expectations of firms and ensure good outcomes for consumers.

Signposting
Given the FCA has already called on the market to make it easier for people with pre-existing conditions get travel cover there’s every chance the consultation could see calls for signposting to be extended further to encompass more people who are vulnerable.

This, I believe would be a plus for the market in terms of reputation and in terms of opening up to a new range of customers who may be put off getting policies altogether or have the wrong cover.

It is also the right thing to do.

The InsureTrek is a positive and symbolic move but insurance should go even further and seek to make the wholesale changes required to ensure everyone buys insurance on a level playing field.

Now, where did I put my walking boots?

Further reading:

Siân Barton is editor of Insurance Age.

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