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Going clean: Why it is worth working harder to put clients on risk

05 September 2018

It’s hard to argue protection for only clean, healthy lives represents a good outcome, for any of us…

clients on risk

Some protection providers want healthy customers only. It’s a perfectly legitimate strategy. After all, a ‘clean’ life is simpler to underwrite and less likely to claim.

So is there still room for those with pre-existing conditions or health issues, or indeed those who lead less healthy lifestyles? Is it worth us going a little further – trying that bit harder – to help give your clients the cover they want?

The reason for focussing on clean lives isn’t only about claims. It also has something to do with our industry’s desire for simplicity – the dash to digital. If providers wish to offer instant quotes, and even instant terms, the cleaner the life, the better. That way they can be fast.

But there is value in going a bit further – and it isn’t just a case of altruism. Clients will be pleased with their provider and adviser if we have worked that little bit harder for them.

And they are less likely to lapse on their plan: it must be true that clients who have been accepted by a provider, having previously been declined elsewhere, are more likely to keep their insurance.

Let us not forget that protection is a social good. The protection products we offer – and the advice you give to recommend them where appropriate – aren’t simply about the pay-out. They are about peace of mind.

Peter Hamilton, Head of Market Management at Zurich, said: “There’s a social need, genuinely I think, for the kind of products that we offer. Because they do make a difference to people’s emotional and financial state.

“If the only ones who can get access to them are people unlikely to claim because they’re really healthy, just because we made it a set process, then that I would argue is not a good outcome.”

So how do we go a bit further for your clients?

For declined cases, we offers clients the “best possible alternative”.

For example, if critical illness insurance is declined but life cover is accepted, it will offer a life cover policy. If one life is declined on a joint life policy, it will offer a single life policy instead.

It is a similar approach for rated cases, in which the client may not be able to afford, or wish to pay, the higher premiums. If that is the case, we will automatically present an alternative offer based on the premium the client originally applied for, and a lower sum assured.

“There are companies out there with legitimate business strategies that say: ‘we want clean, straight through business that doesn’t touch the sides’,” Hamilton said.

“But we think there’s value in trying to go a bit further, to give customers that cover, partly because actually, if they’ve got cover they’re going to keep it.

“I think more broadly it would be unfortunate if we as an industry ended up just serving healthy lives.”

To find out more about Zurich’s new protection system, visit

This information was first published and correct as of September 2018

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