Research by HSBC has revealed that financial advisers believe innovation leading to faster underwriting is the most important requirement in the individual protection market to help drive growth.

Half of advisers called for the process to be accelerated.

Current events, including delays due to difficulty in securing medical reports, have led many industry providers to review underwriting limits and acceptance criteria which can cause setbacks in the policy acceptance process.

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Mark Hussein, chief executive officer at HSBC Life UK and head of insurance UK, said: “The insight of advisers is vital to shaping innovation across the protection industry.

“They understand intuitively the changing demands of customers and are all too aware of any barriers to sales.

“Recent events are driving a rapid evolution in sales and customer engagement and we will increasingly see how the innovative application of new technologies can break down many of the current barriers to market growth.

“HSBC Life UK continues to develop and embed new platforms and technologies to deliver even greater efficiencies in the underwriting process.

“These will speed-up our customer journey and the acceptance process, whilst maintaining market leading rigour in application evaluation.

“Our internal underwriting engine works to increase the level of ‘straight through processing’ and where customer disclosures require a fully underwritten proposition, we have a robust process in place to understand where our questions can be improved to drive-up the percentage of day one acceptance.”

However, advisers (42%) also want to see a greater range of products in the protection market for people who rent homes.

Long-term renting has been a developing trend and the average age of a private renter is now 40 years old.

This demographic is likely to have dependents, so HSBC say it is important they have protection in place for the long-term financial security of all the family.

While advisers have traditionally approached homeowners when taking out a mortgage, there has not been the same engagement with renters according to the research.

HSBC suggest that with the value of so many protection products based on an outstanding mortgage value, there is an opportunity for new solutions designed specifically for this audience.

Almost four in ten (39%) advisers believe the market for individual protection needs to evolve with the introduction of more products designed specifically for the millennial audience.

A further third (32%) of advisers believe there is a need for products offering enhanced mental health coverage and 30% think there is a need for products that offer short-term cover.

Advisers highlighted market opportunities for providers that can offer value added services along with the traditional product suite.

More than a quarter (29%) of advisers believe clients would be more interested in protection services if they offered access to additional services such as helplines or virtual GPs. 

Speed of the purchase journey is a consideration, with a quarter (24%) of advisers stating the time it takes to secure a policy is too long and can discourage applicants.

They also highlight the public too often still think employers’ death in service provision would be sufficient to protect their family should the worst happen, though in reality it would unlikely provide adequate cover, with 19% of advisers saying it is a barrier to sales.