When the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA)’s launched its 2020 Manifesto at the Houses of Parliament in January, there was little indication that the theme of this manifesto, ‘Access’ would be so pertinent for the rest of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting UK lockdown has further emphasised the needs of the most vulnerable members of society, and the instrumental role that insurance plays in protecting these individuals.
Read more: BIBA launches its 2020 manifestov
BIBA, which has long dedicated itself to helping customer access insurance through brokers, has played a vital role in providing advice and support to the sector during this critical time and in driving new conversations regarding accessibility to insurance services. Executive director of BIBA, Graeme Trudgill (pictured), noted that the work the association does raising the profile of brokers throughout Britain and showcasing the work they do in supporting their clients is more important than ever during the crisis.
At the moment, the reputation of the insurance sector is being challenged, he said, and there’s a lot of work to be done to rebuild its’ image in the eyes of the general public. Where brokers and insurers and customers can find a win-win scenario is through the issue of access. Being granted access to insurance solutions benefits the customer enormously and heightens the reputation of the insurer, while also emphasising the role of the broking community in facilitating access to those who believe they cannot obtain a specific cover due to a disability or medical condition.
“We’ve worked recently with a specialist firm examining what, as a trade body, our brokers want us to do for them,” he said. “And what they want is for us to raise the profile of brokers and the awareness of how they can really help people. This is such an important driver because there are so many competing voices wanting people’s insurance… and a lot of smaller brokers simply don’t have the ability to fund a full marketing plan or TV advertisements, etc. So, this is where BIBA can help those firms raise their profile and grow awareness of their offering.”
Trudgill’s role within BIBA includes substantial conversations with government and devolved government officials. This ranges from continuing BIBA’s fruitful work with the Northern Irish government to increase insurance accessibility for citizens with conflict-related convictions, to the agreement BIBA first intermediated with the Treasury, the government equalities office, the ABI and Age UK in 2012.
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“Our agreement on age and insurance has been a real success story, so much so that the agreement was renewed again in December and Age UK say they no longer get any of the people they represent saying there’s difficulty in accessing insurance for older people regarding motor and travel insurance,” Trudgill explained. “And before we did what we did, the charity was noting such a significant problem that they needed to change the law.”
This was the first signposting agreement negotiated by BIBA and the second, an agreement on access to protection insurance for people with medical conditions and disabilities, was unveiled at the BIBA Manifesto launch by John Glen, MP and economic secretary to the Treasury. This agreement, which has amassed a significant industry response, encourages any party unable to offer insurance to somebody with a certain medical condition to signpost them to somebody who they know can help. Businesses can send this referral to a specialist firm or, if they don’t know of such a firm, to BIBA, the trade association, which can cater for such risks. The agreement is said to be off to a great start.
“There are 13 supporting bodies signed up but also a lot of regulated firms which have given their support saying not that they wish to receive such inquires, but that they would signpost and sign up to this voluntary agreement,” Trudgill said. “This includes such firms as Royal London, Swiss Re, Zurich and Bank of Scotland. To have these blue-chip firms sign up is a sign of great progress. And, we make sure that any firm we send those enquiries to meets the definition of what we would call a ‘specialist’.”
Read more: BIBA renews travel medical scheme
The next step, he said, is to get as many industry players as possible to take up the cause and to agree to signpost inquiries rather than just to say ‘sorry, we can’t help you.’
“The key message,” noted Pam Quinn, head of communications at BIBA, “is that the firms who are signposting customers away from themselves are not losing out because they could never have helped those customers in the first place. This is a win-win for the industry, and it just enhances the reputation of the insurance sector.”
BIBA recently launched a new guide on this protection insurance agreement, Trudgill said, which has pulled together relevant stakeholders to explain the ins and outs of the topic, from how specialist firms can help to any exclusions that may be included.
“With these two existing agreements, and the FCA soon to bring in their own requirements on signposting for people’s medical conditions and travel insurance, we thought it was a really good time to create a committee that could oversee all this work on access,” he said. “They could make sure we are delivering on meeting the requirements of raising the profile of brokers, while genuinely achieving meaningful change for the public who can now get cover they thought they couldn’t get.
“For the FCA to intervene and write a rule just proves that people with medical conditions or disabilities have had some challenges with travel insurance. A lot of the queries BIBA receives are for people with medical conditions seeking travel insurance, so I think that was always going to be the next signposting agreement for us and I’m really glad we’ve been working so closely with the FCA.”
BIBA has nearly completed creation of its medical cover firm directory which is going to provide a comprehensive resource directing people to the insurance broker that can help their specific query, he noted. This goes beyond the requirements of the FCA, with BIBA’s call centre employed to take these inquiries and make these connections where necessary. As with the access and signposting agreements, this directory has been developed with a smooth and helpful customer journey in mind.
“At the end of the journey we want our Feefo feedback to say, ‘I had a great journey, BIBA is really helpful, and my broker got me a great policy’,” Trudgill said. “That’s how we’re going to measure this, and that’s what we want. We want great outcomes for customers with brokers being that go-to place, where people know they can go to BIBA and match with a great broker.”