Like any great initiative, the success to date of the Insurance United Against Dementia (IUAD) initiative has been propelled by the triumph of action over conversation. But it was during a chat between three peers – Crawford & Company’s Benedict Burke, QBE’s Chris Wallace and Lockton’s Paul Jack – about the impact of dementia on their loved ones that the idea came about, underpinned by the consensus that “we could spend our time rattling tins, or we could do something more strategic.”
Speaking with Insurance Business, Burke (pictured left) noted how the seeds of IUAD were planted that day in 2017 with the ambitious objective of raising £10 million for “cure and care” forming the foundation of the campaign. Some 900,000 people are currently living with dementia, he said, with one in three projected to develop the condition in their lifetime – but all too often the terrible emotional, societal and economic toll of dementia is overlooked when it comes to funding critical research.
Burke and Premium Credit’s Owen Thomas (pictured right) - ambassador and pre-eminent fundraiser for IUAD – both highlighted how their experiences of losing loved ones to dementia have shown them first-hand the ripple effect that the disease has not just on those living with it, but on everyone around them. With two young children himself, Thomas said, he feels very strongly about doing everything he can to support the Alzheimer’s Society, both in honour of his grandmother and also to help move the dial on preventative and curative research projects.
For Burke whose mother, Betty, also passed away with dementia, seeing the impact IUAD has had already – and how it has encouraged the insurance profession to unite under a common cause for good – has been an incredible tribute to her life. Since its inception, the initiative has raised £8.2 million, developed a UK-wide presence, and formed a structured board backed by the governance and structure offered by Alzheimer’s Society.
IUAD’s “help and hope” approach remains integral, Burke said, as the Alzheimer’s Society continues its vital work to provide help and hope for everyone affected by dementia. But it’s worth highlighting the changing demographics being impacted by the disease, with early-onset dementia more of a concern than ever, and middle-aged women disproportionately more likely to be affected by the disease than their male counterparts.
“One of the early strategic decisions that we made was that we wanted to assist in funding the UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI), through our annual Insurance Day for Dementia,” he said. “And by the end of 2023, the efforts of the insurance industry in support of the IUAD campaign will have enabled over £2 million in investment in the UK DRI. That Institute was formed in 2017 of six universities coming together and they’re some of the best researchers in the world.”
The Insurance Day for Dementia – November 30 2023 – is a highlight in the IUAD calendar which calls on the whole industry to get involved in a variety of ways with raising awareness, funding and support for those living with dementia – and their loved ones. Outlining some of the ways to get involved, Thomas noted that participants can:
“With 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK, we’ve also set ourselves the challenge, as an industry, of trying to get people out moving and racking up 900,000 steps or the Alzheimer’s Society and IUAD,” he said. “I know Benedict and I will be out and about moving and making sure we get our steps in… Last year’s drive was really successful with £171,000 raised on the day – which was supported by the Zurich Community Trust as well, who are massive supporters of IUAD.
“We’re hoping to raise over £200,000 in 2023. We’ve got collections going on at train stations across London and in Premium Credit, we’ve got a session with the Alzheimer’s Society team to try and create some more ‘Dementia Friends’. And we really encourage everyone across the industry to get out, get moving, get involved.”
The IUAD initiative has presented a real opportunity for the insurance profession to showcase a side of insurance not always made as visible as it should be to the public – its potential to act as a tremendous source of societal good. Public trust in insurance has long been a cause for concern for the sector, Burke said, but seeing the industry rally around this cause epitomises the great and the good of insurance.
“I think it should be recognised how the sector is coming together in this way, and putting down its competitive edge in favour of rallying around what is a genuinely noble cause,” he said. “There’s no other industry or professional segment in the UK doing anything quite like this, where competitors are coming together to achieve a common goal.”
Burke and Thomas highlighted the development of a second vertical – Sports United Against Dementia – as a sign of the evolving legacy of the campaign. It really shows what can be achieved when collaboration rather than competition is the name of the game, Burke said, and he believes the mainstream media should seize the opportunity at hand to promote IUAD as a proven and accessible model for how an industry can come together for the betterment of society.
Reflecting on the impact of IUAD, Thomas said he can see the strong parallels between the camaraderie inherent to working in the insurance market and how the sector has embraced this cause. Insurance is a bit like a game of rugby, he said, there are powerful people on both sides and everybody wants to win. But at the end of the game, you shake hands, and you’ll go for a drink together because that competition is founded on a bedrock of mutual understanding and regard for each other.
Seeing the industry come together has not been a surprise for Burke either who, after 42 years in insurance, sees it very much “as a village”.
“And [IUAD] is a vehicle that shows insurance professionals that they belong to a company that has a positive influence, where they have a voice in guiding that influence and where they can personally make a difference,” he said. “With this campaign, we’ve identified a cause people want to get behind – one with validity, credibility and real gravitas. It has been incredible to see it develop and evolve, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”