Provider Opinion: A short-term gender sales push will damage the protection industry's reputation

A short-term gender sales push will damage the protection industry's reputation

It’s a bit early to talk about festive fun, but…

For insurers and advisers there is another potential cause of stress this December to add to the usual seasonal pressures; the arrival of EU legislation outlawing the use of gender discrimination within pricing. Gender is commonly used as a factor in pricing models across many forms of insurance, and protection is no exception.

The topic has understandably generated plenty of comment and discussion over the past few months, but I don’t want to go into any of the details again here. The fact is that the change is on its way so it’s up to us as an industry to deal with it.

We have a responsibility to both advisers and consumers to make sure there is as little disruption as possible.

Understandably, there has been a lot of debate about tackling the task ahead, to make sure that insurers comply with the legislation. For some, it will be mammoth exercise and for others less so.

But what’s really going on?

For years, insurers and industry commentators have spoken about the need for advisers and consumers to engage with protection and value the importance of what we can do for our customers and their families when the need us most.

I think this quest is right; we are in the privileged position to make a positive and profound impact on lives when people need us most and as such, I happen to think in general that protection insurance offers good value for money for consumers.

It’s surprising therefore and quite sad, that some insurers are trying to use the gender deadline as an opportunity for a short-term boost in new policy sales.

You can’t argue with the fact that for some, protection insurance is cheaper than it will be again, or for a long time at least. But should a short-term potential boost in sales override the long-term aspirations of protection insurance?

Speaking personally – it’s a no from me. Having identified the need to build the perceived value of your product over time, is it such a great move to be focusing your marketing communications around a short-term price gain? Or are you simply making an already difficult job even harder for yourself in the future?  

Surely we must not keep placing our priorities on month-to-month sales figures, to the detriment of achieving our long-term objectives. This is an industry that needs to improve its image and to up its game by generating trust and being far smarter than it has in the past. 

But only when we learn that this change won’t happen overnight and until we make a real and long-term commitment are we likely to count engaged, trusting consumers as advocates of what we do.

Nick Jones is brand & marketing manager of Exeter Family Friendly

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