The need for Critical Illness cover has once again moved into the spotlight on the back of crucial findings from Cancer Research UK. They now predict that 1 in 2 of the UK’s population will develop Cancer at some point in their lives. Combined with the ground-breaking advancements in treatment pushing cancer survival rates beyond the ten year mark for half of adults diagnosed, protecting your clients and advising them on Critical Illness cover continues to be an essential part of your role as an adviser.

Sadly, despite the numbers the UK is drastically under-insured. This month’s Insight into Protection will explore some of the big issues, providing you with some of the facts and advice to raise awareness and discuss protection with your clients. We believe that by working together, we can close the UK protection gap:

What are the Facts?

50% of the UK population will develop cancer

It is still so surprising how many of the general public are unaware of the real numbers surrounding Cancer diagnosis and survival rates. It is a difficult and sensitive subject to tackle, but whether it be through loved ones or personal experience, a large number of us will likely be affected by the disease. Sadly, it can often take a tragic occurrence to make us stop and think, which is even more reason to encourage your clients to approach Critical Illness proactively.

50% of adult cancer patients are predicted to survive 10 or more years

Cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years, a clear indication of the steps we have made to battle this terrible illness. It is this crucial fact that will be pivotal to your client protection discussion. This is difficult, as most people instinctively protect material investments such as their home and goods. But they will also want to cover themselves against the most likely scenario, which means given the facts, clients will want to ensure they are financially covered.

UK Households spend just £7.80 a month on medical insurance

According to the Office of National Statistics, under £10 is spent a month per household on medical insurance, compared to £22 spent on household insurance. Research from a top provider also suggests that 5.2 million UK mortgage holders who earn an income have no plan or protection cover in place to cover their mortgage repayments if they become too ill to earn, another reminder of the current UK protection gap.

Why is the UK lacking Critical Illness Cover?

Protection myths

One of the most damaging myths surrounding Critical Illness is that providers go out of their way to ensure they do not pay out on an insurance claim. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, several providers have proudly released figures regarding their Critical Illness claims for 2014, showing pay-outs of over 90%. One leading provider even announced that over half of their 2014 claims were settled within 21 days, with the quickest taking just two days to process. Reasons for the rare instances of non-payment were non-disclosure of medical information and more commonly, instances where illness definition was unfortunately not met.

Consumer reliance on state support, employer or savings

Unfortunately, some consumers believe that the state would cover them financially if they were not able to work for long periods. But state support is there to ensure individuals are not immediately put in a desperate situation, it is not there to protect an established lifestyle and maintain the financial commitments that come with it. Incorrect assumptions on how long employers would provide full pay, or how long savings would last are also common. So take the time to use current figures and calculations to show your client the facts around financial protection.

What can you do as an Adviser?

Prove your credentials

Nobody wants to be scared into buying a protection policy. Use software and applications such as the CIExpert comparison, to show your client the true value of their policy, not just the priced premium costs. LV’s Risk Reality calculator is just one of many useful tools that providers offer, to assist you in the sales process and provide your client with the cover they need.

Recognise the principles of TCF (Treating Customers Fairly)

Ensure that in no circumstance are you placing profit before the client, as this is not adhering to the FCA guidelines on Treating Customers Fairly. Instead, ensure your client has every chance to be fully covered, by providing clear access to all policy options that protect them against any chance of future financial detriment.

Make sure your client is completely covered

Although Critical Illness covers your client in the event of many long term illnesses, there are several reasons why Income Protection, Life or better still, a combination of the three could be more beneficial to your client. So tailor the advice you give to suit your client’s circumstances. There are even flexible protection options out there that include care, support and child protection, providing an even more comprehensive package for your client.

As an adviser, you have a tough job competing with comparison sites battling to offer the lowest premiums. But by beginning the conversation with the facts, proving your expertise and showing you are treating them as an individual, your client can walk away knowing they have been given every chance to ensure they are protected in the event of developing and surviving a Critical Illness.