iPipeline saw protection sales figures through its adviser platforms, primarily SolutionBuilder and AssureWeb, which processes approximately 50% of all UK intermediary sales, increase during the first quarter (Q1). 

The Q1 data shows new business volumes were up 10% during the first three months of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, while like-for-like business grew 7%.

Life Insurance sales were strong, with decreasing life applications up 21% compared to Q1 2020. Level life policy sales were also up on last year – by 16% – and the average life cover amount was 4% higher than in the same period in 2020.

Critical Illness (CI) volumes also increased substantially, with level CI up 12% year-on-year and decreasing CI up 6%.

iPipeline’s data also shows that sales into multi-benefit products also continued to grow – 30% of new business applications were on a multi-benefit basis in Q1, compared with 26% in Q1 2020.

However, volumes for underwritten whole of life were down 23% compared to Q1 2020 while Income Protection (IP) sales fell 8%.

All advice channels saw improvement during the first three months of the year, with call centres seeing an 18% increase in new business compared to the same period in 2020.

After being hit hard during the first COVID-19 wave, mortgage brokers have now seen things pick up significantly, with 7% growth compared to Q1 2020.

Paul Yates, product strategy director at iPipeline, said: “The protection industry, like many others, has had a very challenging 12 months, but we are seeing some positive signs. Our Q1 data shows increases across life and critical illness and an uplift across all channels.

“The pandemic has made people realise they need protection more than ever and the best intermediaries are becoming more efficient and effective. We therefore expect to see protection volumes continue on their pre-pandemic grow trends driven by better products, better advice and sales process and better technology in 2021.”

Andrew Wibberley, co-chair of the Income Protection Task Force, added: “It is encouraging to see IP sales continue to recover, and there is clear potential for significant growth in the months ahead.

“There’s increased awareness that our collective and individual vulnerability can be confidently protected as restrictions on product offerings have been removed and underwriting returns to a pre-COVID state.”