A growing gap in the insurance advice market has left millions of people underserved when it comes to life cover and their wider financial protection needs.
Banks have retreated from offering face-to-face advice, mortgage advisers have less time available to talk about life insurance and a growing number of independent financial advisers are more focused on higher-net-worth clients.
About 8.5 million UK adults with dependents do not have any life cover in place. The result is that consumers are exposing themselves and their families to significant risk of financial ruin as they fail to take out life, critical illness or income protection cover.
The question is how can the financial services industry reach out to those customers it has failed to engage.
Specialist software provider iPipeline believes the solution lies in using digital technology to unlock customer data and nudge them to explore their protection needs at the relevant time.
The company has developed LifeGenie, a data-driven approach that allows financial institutions to change dramatically the way consumers can be introduced to and engage with their protection needs, triggering them to take action.
Its starting point is the recognition that the internet is part of the fabric of daily life, for shopping, banking and leisure, where users expect a quick and simple process that provides a personalised solution to meet their needs.
As a business you already know a lot about your customer and we can help use that to put together an accurate offer, in an instant, that is relevant to them
Yet, traditional methods for selling life insurance have not kept up with the pace of change in technology.
A web-based service, LifeGenie uses existing customer information and speedily puts together an offer that is tailored to them. It can be used as part of a face-to-face meeting, a visit to a customer-facing website or a targeted e-mail campaign, providing an illustrative price at the touch of a button.
Ian Teague, iPipeline UK managing director, says: “As a business you already know a lot about your customer and we can help use that to put together an accurate offer, in an instant, that is relevant to them.
“For instance, as a bank, you might be talking to them about their mortgage application, a financial review or setting up their own business, while as a financial adviser you might be talking about pensions or inheritance tax planning.
“However, as we all know, after a lengthy chat about a mortgage, it can be difficult to find more time to talk about life insurance. LifeGenie automates the transition into a protection conversation, saving the adviser and client valuable time.”
There are millions of financial interactions conducted every year where better tools could aid discussion on protection, and enable a quick and smooth purchasing process.
LifeGenie can be deployed anywhere – wherever the greatest number of pertinent clicks are found – whether in a branch, via an e-mail campaign or on a website, offering a click through to an insurer’s website for a more detailed quote.
Mr Teague says the financial services sector has invested a lot of time and money in building attractive and user-friendly websites, but somewhere along the way has lost sight of the need to drive customer traffic to those sites in the first place.
“We can provide a nudge to customers and to advisers to have that conversation about the benefits of life cover, and a realistic illustration of the cost,” he adds.
Given the financial pressures many businesses are under, Mr Teague recognises they are cautious about additional investment, but he stresses that LifeGenie, delivered through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, is a cost-effective way of engaging with customers and one that complements rather than replaces existing sales processes.
It has been designed to be agile and flexible, allowing users to adopt a test-and-learn approach as they figure out the best way of reaching existing and new customers, and offers them the capacity to increase scale when appropriate.
Mr Teague says: “LifeGenie can help nudge customers to get them on the journey to buying life cover and, f the experience is engaging and relevant, we know that it will result in better conversion rates.”