The last 24 months have seen a real focus on helping consumers access suitable insurance protection. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association’s (BIBA’s) 2020 manifesto is titled Access and there has been intervention from both the Financial Conduct Authority on travel insurance and the Cabinet Office on protection insurance. Now BIBA has formed a multi-sector Access to Insurance Committee to drive forward progress.
BIBA has championed access, and in particular, signposting, since 2012. It is working with the FCA to improve access to travel insurance for people with medical conditions and with the Industry Disability Champion, Johnny Timpson to help drive better access to protection covers. To channel the excellent progress these initiatives have made and to build on the success enjoyed helping older people find insurance, a diverse group has gathered in the Access to Insurance Committee (AIC) to continue the focus.
Chaired by Caroline Barr, formerly a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, the independent statutory body set up to represent the interests of consumers, the AIC also includes BIBA Executive Director, Graeme Trudgill, Johnny Timpson and representatives from insurers, brokers, charities, and other stakeholders.
Trudgill said: “The group we formed as part of the signposting worksteam in the Access to Insurance Steering Group led by Johnny Timpson was highly productive and, as its work completed, we agreed we should harness the determination and ambition of the group to drive forward wider access to insurance. BIBA was delighted to be able to facilitate this.”
The main aim of the AIC is to help consumers access different types of insurance where they face challenges due to age, medical conditions or disability or because of prevailing conditions.
Caroline Barr explained: “We have a fabulous opportunity to re-present insurance as a force for good, by collaborating to help consumers. Signposting means that firms can point a customer to assistance even where they themselves cannot find cover for them. What we need is more awareness of signposting and more collaboration. This can be a game-changer for many facing difficulty and is why I was delighted to be asked to chair AIC.”
The committee will provide operational oversight of: the Protection Agreement (launched in January 2020); the Signposting services provided under the separate Government/ABI/BIBA Agreement on Age and Insurance (launched in 2012 and recently extended), and the forthcoming travel insurance directory provided by BIBA for those with pre-existing medical conditions seeking travel insurance.
It will evaluate and review performance of the agreements and processes and also take opportunities to promote signposting awareness and participation across the financial services and charity sectors.
Johnny Timpson said: “ Personally, as the Cabinet Office Disability and Access Champion for the Insurance Industry and Profession plus a CII Insuring Women’s Futures Programme expert panel member, I welcome the establishment of the new BIBA Access To Insurance Committee and its commitment to improving signposting to aid all consumers, especially those with visible and/or non-visible disabilities and/or health conditions, better access the insurance information, advice, cover and outcomes that they need.”
The response of the sector has been immediate and positive with all committee members enthusiastic to participate with a view to both aiding consumers and improving the reputation of the insurance profession.
Committee member Kathryn Knowles of protection insurance specialist broker Cura, summarised: “I’m honoured to have been asked by BIBA to join the AIC. At Cura we have hundreds of introducers signposting their clients to us and we, in turn, signpost our clients to others when their needs are outside our specialism.
“As someone that was once declined insurance due to my health and now as a specialist protection broker, I bring a unique perspective of both consumer and adviser. Fair access to insurance is incredibly close to my heart so I will do my utmost to make this initiative a success.”