Mind the gap!

I went to a conference recently where the theme was the benefits of early intervention and pro-active claims management. Several of the speakers identified what is called the ‘protection gap’, the number of people that have no life or sickness insurance or who are relying on the cover their employers provide.

This was a truly inspirational conference where all of the speakers cared passionately about the good our industry can do. Data was produced to evidence the value of early intervention; case studies were shown which pointed out not just the financial necessity of sickness cover but also the value of the physical and emotional support we provide.  One of the speakers referred to how good these stories make his claims team feel about themselves and the role they played in delivering claims management and care at a time of crisis.

When I entered the Insurance world, many years ago, it was seen as a safe, middleclass respected career – not the sales folk — but the rest of us clerks.  It was rather like the civil service, not as worthy as doctors or nurses or teachers but still respected. However, I think many of us joined because the pay and rations were quite good and because it was a safe career for life job. But over the years this respect has been eroded and we have all become tainted by the perception that we are a sleazy, money grabbing, any excuse not to pay a claim, rip you off industry.  And of course, we have become subject to mergers, takeovers and redundancies, no more interest free mortgages and no more final salary pension schemes. All of this clearly affects our own self-worth and in many cases this attitude gets passed on the public.

So what we have to do, before we can convince the public to buy our wares, is to remind ourselves and our staff just how valuable is the ‘service’ we offer.  How managing a claim isn’t just about paying the money, but is also about supporting the claimant, rather as the 7 Families initiative is doing.  It’s about selling policies that will make a real difference, it’s about dealing with underwriting, and premium payment and renewals and of course claims in a way that is simple and jargon free. It also means getting that passion across in every interaction with the prospect/client/claimant.  It means assuming, with appropriate safeguards, everyone is honest throughout the whole process, from purchase through to claim.

Most of all it means that when we go to work and when we finish for the day we must believe and inspire our staff to believe that what we do is worthy and can and does make a difference.

Karen Gamble

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