Access to Insurance

At a recent Insuring Women’s Futures Programme meeting, one of the speakers quoted the CII Charter and shared what for me is a key objective for all insurance professionals and especially financial protection specialists, which is “to secure and justify the confidence of consumers and employers”.

This objective is just as important today as it was when the CII was granted its Charter in 1912. Despite protection providers publishing claims paid statistics over the last decade, consumer perception that we do not pay claims is still an issue and used as a reason for not purchasing cover. It is essential that we continue to release and promote our claims statistics. But also, where possible, look beyond the numbers to the real emotional stories behind all claims.

This can be done with real video case studies such as those featured in the Seven Families Project (, and also by improving awareness of providers’ support packages, such as Scottish Widows Care, provided in partnership with RedArc. These show that in addition to the monetary claim benefit, practical help and emotional support services are also available to claimants and their family should they need them.

Another issue we need to face as an industry is the ability for customers to access appropriate and affordable cover, as the recent consumer press coverage of people with mental health issues and the difficulties, perceived or otherwise that they have in trying to access protection cover of mental health has shown.

This is something the industry is looking at, with an FCA “Improving Access to Insurance” event held in June last year, and a subsequent call for evidence. Whilst the primary area of focus was travel insurance, financial protection also featured in the discussion. I suggest that in addition to being open with our claims statistics, it is also important that that we tackle head on the perception of access to insurance being a problem. We can do this by demystifying the underwriting process and making our underwriting acceptance statistics available.

At Scottish Widows, we take pride in our underwriting expertise and having an inclusive and fair approach. And we do all we can to offer appropriate terms to those who have existing conditions. And that’s why for mental illness disclosures, we have a 95% overall acceptance rate, with 78% of cases accepted on standard terms.

As you will be aware, Scottish Widows Protect has recently joined the UnderwriteMe quote comparison service. This service enables intermediaries to obtain either a fully underwritten “buy now” or partially underwritten quote from multiple providers, through one application process. Not only does this platform simplify and improve the efficiency of the underwriting process for both the intermediary and their client, it can also help when an adviser has a client with an existing condition. Allows them to do a quick market comparison quote, specific for a condition, to see how different providers would treat this. This can help save time, and set client expectations in an efficient manner. This is just a small way advisers can demonstrate that the protection industry and profession is doing all it can to improve consumer access to the financial protection solutions that they require.

To access Scottish Widows underwriting tools visit


Johnny Timpson, Technical and Industry Affairs Manager, Scottish Widows.

Johnny has over 37 years’ business development experience in bank, independent intermediary, direct, partnership and joint venture distribution channels. Before joining Scottish Widows in 1987 Johnny worked for Commercial Union. His current role is supporting the development of financial protection need awareness, advocacy and advisory capability within Scottish Widows Protect. Johnny has been a member of numerous protection industry taskforces both past and present, bringing his wealth of experience and unique insight and knowledge to bear. Most recently he’s represented Scottish Widows on the Seven Families Project, leading the Industry Affairs Workstream.